NHL's Top 50 Players: Will They Boom or Bust in 2012-13?

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJuly 16, 2012

NHL's Top 50 Players: Will They Boom or Bust in 2012-13?

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    A few weeks ago, I ranked the top 62 players of the 2011-12 season. Today, we will take a look at the same players from that bunch and we will predict if the top 50 from that same list will boom or bust in 2012-13. They were the top players in the NHL from last season so that is the building block of this ranking.

    The remaining 12 will be featured in honorable mentions slides along with a few other top players who didn't make the original list.Since that list was published, players have changed teams and gained new linemates, so there is no guarantee that every player will have repeat success in 2012-13.

    The ordering will be the same as the last list mentioned above.

    Each player will be assessed a boom, bust or even rating.

    A boom means the player will have a solid year, a bust means a player will have a down year and an even rating means the player in question will remain status quo. 

    Here are the top *50 players and whether they will boom or bust in 2012-13.


    *Re-read boldunderlined and italicized  text before leaving a comment about the order of the players on this list.

Honorable Mentions: The Sophomores

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    The two superb sophomores makes this slide as an honorable mention because of their solid rookie seasons. It will be interesting to see how the two sensational players perform in their sophomore season.


    Ryan Nugent Hopkins: Boom

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would have likely captured the Calder Trophy if he stayed healthy for a full season. However, what he was able to accomplish in 62 games was impressive. RNH tallied 18 goals, added 34 markers and ended up with 52 total points.

    Expect RNH to push for 70 points in 2012-13.


    Gabriel Landeskog: Boom

    "Lando" took home the Calder Trophy in 2011-12, and he will be joined by P.A. Parenteau in Colorado. Landeskog impressed as a two-way player during the 11-12 campaign, so with a deeper offensive core, Lando and the Avs should soar to new heights.

Honorable Mentions: The Defensemen

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    Dustin Byfuglien: Even

    The Winnipeg Jets made some moves over the summer that should strengthen the team overall. Byfuglien should have no problem continuing his solid play.


    Brian Campbell: Even

    Campbell won the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy this year as a defenseman. This is a big achievement for the Panthers defenseman who registered 53 points on the season. He will likely duplicate his production, as he is more comfortable with the system enforced by Kevin Dineen.


    Kevin Bieksa: Boom

    Bieksa was a member of a very successful Vancouver Canucks blue line. His 44 points and his plus-12 rating was solid for a two-way defenseman who is reliable in both ends of the ice.


    Duncan Keith: Boom

    Keith was a solid puck-moving defenseman during the season. His stat line consisted of four goals, 36 assists and a total of 40 points. It was a bit of a down year, but a healthy Blackhawks team should help Keith regain some points, especially on the power play.


    Kimmo Timonen: Bust

    The Flyers blueline lost some depth when Matt Carle signed with Tampa Bay. With Chris Pronger still sidelined, Timonen will have to step up even more. This may prove to be too much unless the Flyers' other defenders step up as well.

Honorable Mentions: The Forwards

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    Radim Vrbata: Bust

    Ray Whitney is gone and he played a huge role in Vrbata's success. It was a career year for Vrbata, so nonetheless, it is unlikely that he will repeat his numbers from 2011-12 in 2012-13.


    Jamie Benn: Boom

    Benn scored 26 goals and assisted on 37 others for 63 total points. Benn is one of the league's rising stars and will only continue to grow as he gains Mike Ribeiro's minutes and plays with Loui Eriksson and Jaromir Jagr.


    Daniel Sedin: Boom

    Sedin had a down year in 2011-12, but even star players experience down years. Look for D. Sedin to rise to the occasion during the 2012-13 campaign.


    Logan Couture: Boom

    Couture ended the 2011-12 season with 65 points. He is a player who Scott Howson would love to add in exchange for Rick Nash, but San Jose would never considering parting with this rising star.


    Brad Richards: Boom

    Richards got off to a hot start, cooled down and finished the season on a tear. Richards is more comfortable with his teammates now, and he will improve in his second year with the Rangers, just like he did during his sophomore year in Dallas.

50. Kris Letang

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    2012-13: Boom

    Kris Letang had a solid season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He battled through concussions and other injuries, but still was able to put up a respectable 42 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-21.

    Letang will be starting the year off healthy, so there is no reason why 2012-13 won't be a boom year for him and the Pens.

49. Dan Boyle

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    2012-13: Boom

    Dan Boyle is a solid offensive defenseman for the San Jose Sharks, but he is getting older. Boyle has been a mainstay on the Sharks blue line for the past few seasons and will likely retire there.

    Boyle posted a stat line of 9-39-48 with a plus-10 rating. He was also eighth among defensemen in scoring.

    The one thing that make Boyle a solid defenseman is his consistency. This consistency will allow Boyle to at least duplicate his production from 2011-12.

48. Eric Staal

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    2012-13: Boom

    Eric Staal rebounded well during the second half of 2011-12. He is a solid offensive player with a ton of skill, so the first part of 11-12 should be looked at as a fluke. Staal will be joined by his brother Jordan, and the two are expected to be linemates.

    This chemistry should rejuvenate Eric and it will lead to a productive season.

47. Jarome Iginla

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    2012-13: Bust

    Jarome Iginla was another top player who had a down 2011-12 season. Iginla ended the year with 67 points and a rating of minus-10.

    He is in the last year of his contract, so it would be wise for Calgary to move him while it still can. Another down year in point totals could really damage Iginla's worth at the deadline.

46. Max Pacioretty

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    2012-13: Even

    I don't see Max Pacioretty booming or busting in 2012-13. Pacioretty scored 33 goals and assisted on 32 others for a total of 65 points in 11-12.

    He is a solid player who rebounded from injury in a huge way last season, so look for Max Pax to duplicate his production plus/minus about five points.

45. Patrick Kane

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    2012-13: Bust

    Patrick Kane is a solid player but his numbers over the past year suggest that he is trending downward. He will have a slightly down year but won't be a complete bust.

    Kane had an average season in 2011-12 as he dipped in total points for a second consecutive season.

    Since scoring 88 points during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup year, Kane scored 73 points in 2010-11 and 66 points in a 2011-12 season where he played in nine more games than the year before.

    Kane was also shifted between center and the wing often, so that could explain his dip in points. Nonetheless, over the past few years, Kane has been trending down. 

44. Marc-Andre Fleury

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    2012-13: Boom

    Marc-Andre Fleury had a solid year between the pipes. Fleury posted a record of 42-17-4 with a 2.36 GAA with four shutouts. He was sub-par in the postseason, but the addition of Tomas Vokoun should have a solid impact for Fleury and the Penguins.

    Vokoun is a reliable backup and a former starting goaltender, so he will be able to give Fleury the rest he needs. When you factor this in, there is no reason why Fleury shouldn't have a great 2012-13 season.

43. Mike Smith

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    2012-13: Bust

    Mike Smith had an amazing playoff run, but Phoenix is likely going to be a much different team next season. The Coyotes have already lost Ray Whitney and they could be losing Shane Doan as well.

    Smith is an excellent goaltender, but he may lose a lot of close games that last year the Coyotes would have won off a clutch goal scored by Ray Whitney. If the Coyotes can not replace the offense lost, Smith may have his work cut out for him all year.

42. Henrik Zetterberg

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    2012-13: Bust

    This year is going to be a huge adjustment for the entire Detroit Red Wings franchise. Losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart is going to take a huge toll on the team defensively. Henrik Zetterberg is a solid two-way forward, but without a top-notch back end, everyone is going to play a more defensive style.

    Zetterberg won't experience a huge drop-off in production, but it will be a bust drop.

41. Kevin Shattenkirk

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    2012-13: Boom

    Kevin Shattenkirk had a solid season in 2012-13. If he can keep up his solid play, Shattenkirk can earn himself a sizable contract extension very soon.

    Shattenkirk was a plus-20, scored nine goals and assisted on 34 others for 43 total points of offense.

    He is a solid defenseman who will only improve under a full offseason with Ken Hitchcock in charge, so expect Shattenkirk to boom in 2012-13.

40. Alex Edler

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    2012-13: Boom

    Alex Edler is one of the rising defensive stars in the NHL, and he will surely benefit from having Jason Garrison on the team.

    Edler is offensive-minded and scored 11 goals and assisted on 38 others for a total of 49 points. If he is paired with Garrison, there is a good chance Edler could hit the 50-point plateau next season.

39. Alex Pietrangelo

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    2012-13: Boom

    Alex Pietrangelo had a great season for the St. Louis Blues. He was an offensive force and racked up 39 assists, 52 points and a plus-rating of plus-16. He is a cornerstone of the Blues' current blue line, and he will likely replicate this performance next season.

    Ken Hitchcock will also help him become a better overall defenseman, so the sky is the limit for Pietrangelo in 2012-13.

38. Martin St.Louis

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    2012-13: Bust

    Martin St.Louis is starting to slow down as he gets older. His 74 points were a significant drop off from the 94 he had the year before. St.Louis has also battled injuries, but that is something that can linger as a player gets older.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning star is still good for at least 60 points, but he is trending downward.

37. Alex Ovechkin

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    2012-13: Boom

    Adam Oates is the new bench boss of the Washington Capitals, and that is something that will benefit Alex Ovechkin in a huge way. Ovechkin is an offensive-minded player that was forced to play a defensive style under Dale Hunter.

    With Oates behind the bench, Ovechkin should thrive in a more offensive system, especially on the power play.

36. Valtteri Filppula

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    2012-13: Bust

    2011-12 was a breakout season for Valtteri Filppula. He is a solid two-way player, and he emerged in a big way when he scored 66 points. Filppula is a solid player, but it is unlikely that he repeats this high level of production next season.

    He is a career 40-45 point player, and that is where he likely will fit in next season.

35. Teemu Selanne

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    2012-13: Even

    The Finnish Flash is getting up there in age, but that hasn't stopped him yet. Selanne scored 26 goals and assisted on 40 others for 66 points last season, and he is returning at age 42 for one more year. 

    Expect the Flash to be a solid contributor because if this is indeed his last season, he will want to go out with a huge bang.

34. Ryan Suter

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    2012-13: Bust

    During the 2011-12 campaign, Suter was a plus-15, scored nine goals and assisted on 39 others for a total of 46 points.

    Suter is a solid two-way defenseman who will struggle off the bat in Minnesota. His defense partner will be a far cry from Shea Weber, and that could have a huge impact on Suter's overall play.

    Suter will have a good year, but he won't be as effective as he was sans Weber.

33. P.A Parenteau

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    2012-13: Bust

    P.A. Parenteau had his best season ever and scored only 18 goals, but he assisted on 49 others for a total of 67 points last year with the Islanders.

    He benefited from playing with John Tavares, Matt Moulson and a few others over the past few years, so it will take time for PAP to acclimate himself to the Colorado Avalanche.

    For the most part, P.A. Parenteau will struggle, but once he gains some chemistry with Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny, the sky is the limit.

32. Zach Parise

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    2012-13: Boom

    Zach Parise is going to enter the season with a new team and new linemates, but he will be healthy. Parise will likely be paired with Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu off the bat, and that could be a pretty solid threesome.

    Parise could return to the 80-point mark if everything clicks as it should with the Minnesota Wild.

31. Joffrey Lupul

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    2012-13: Even

    The biggest issue surrounding Joffrey Lupul is his health. If he can stay healthy, he could be a 30-goal scorer and an 80-point player. Lupul likely will be in this same range next season because of his proneness to injury.

    Lupul has the skills and talent, but injuries have betrayed him so far during his young career.

30. Jason Pominville

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    2012-13: Bust

    The Buffalo Sabres lost Derek Roy via a trade and replaced him for the short-term with Steve Ott. The success of Jason Pominville lies on whether or not Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons can make the team at some point this season.

    He could also be paired with Tyler Ennis, and that could be a productive combo.

    Both draft picks are quality centers who could step in and lighten the load of Pominville. Both are also two centers who could become a solid pivot for Pominville.

29. Tyler Seguin

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    2012-13: Boom

    Tyler Seguin is one of the youngest and most talented centers in the game today. He is a complete two-way player who has grown so much during his time in the NHL. 

    Seguin took a big leap for the Bruins and posted a stat line highlighted by 29 goals, 38 assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-34 in 2011-12, and there is no reason why Seguin can't be a 30-45-75 player next season.

    Along with Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins have a solid two-way center punch in their top-six.

28. Scott Hartnell

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    2012-13: Even

    Scott Hartnell found lightning in a bottle alongside Claude Giroux during the 2011-12 season. The two players had a solid year with Jaromir Jagr, but that dynamic will likely change in 2012-13.

    Hartnell should have no problem duplicating his performance from last season as long as he is paired with Giroux. It is also a contract year for Hartnell, so expect him to do his best so he can collect some extra dollars during free agency.

27. Matt Moulson

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    2012-13: Boom

    Matt Moulson is a solid player who you should keep your eye on. He is able to do a lot for his team without taking penalties, and he scores a lot of points in the dirtier areas of the ice.

    Moulson has taken strides to improve his overall game, and alongside John Tavares, the duo will likely have career years.

26. Patrick Sharp

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    2012-13: Boom

    Patrick Sharp really turned around his overall game during the 2011-12 season. His versatility makes him a huge asset to the 'Hawks, and he could have another breakout year in 2012-13.

    He has always been a two-way threat because of his lethal hands and shot, but Sharp kicked it into another gear this past year. He improved from a plus-minus rating of minus-one to finishing '11-12 with a plus-28 rating.

    Sharp is one of the NHL's most complete players, and this could be the year he hits the 40-goal mark.

25. Pavel Datsyuk

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    2012-13: Boom

    Injuries limited Pavel Datsyuk's 2011-12 season, so he will come out like a man with a mission during the 2012-13 campaign. Datsyuk is one of the NHL's top two-way forwards, but this year, Datsyuk will have an increased responsibility. 

    Without Lidstrom and Stuart on the Wings' back end, Datsyuk will have to take a larger role with the team, but he is a player who can rise to the challenge.

24. Patrice Bergeron

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    2012-13: Boom

    Patrice Bergeron had a standout season for the Boston Bruins, and he captured the Frank J. Selke trophy at the 2012 NHL Awards ceremony.

    Bergeron is able to play two-way offense, and that was evident with his 22 goals and his 42 assists for a total of 64 points during the 2011-12 season.

    Bergeron's most memorable stat was his league leading plus-minus rating of plus-36. Bergeron has the potential to grow even more, so there is a chance that the best is yet to come.

    Expect big things out of Bergeron for the 2012-13 season.

23. Loui Eriksson

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    2012-13: Boom

    Loui Eriksson performed well last season without Brad Richards, and he should perform even better next season with his new linemates. Eriksson is slated to play with Jamie Benn at center and Jaromir Jagr on the right flank.

    This trio of players will be well supported by the Dallas Stars' other lines, so this could be a solid season for all involved.

    Expect Eriksson to have a big year in which he scores 70-80 points.

22. Shea Weber

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    2012-13: Boom

    Shea Weber is arguably the NHL's best defenseman, and losing Ryan Suter won't have as big as an impact as you think because it is likely that Nashville will trade Weber.

    If Weber doesn't want to sign long-term, the Predators will then shop him to teams he would sign with so they can get the best possible return.

    Weber has a great shot, is sound defensively and is a very physical player who can be a total game changer.

21. Pekka Rinne

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    2012-13: Even

    Pekka Rinne led the NHL in wins with 43 and also posted a solid 2.39 GAA and recorded five shutouts during the 2011-12 season. He is a superstar netminder, and he should have no problem duplicating this success.

    The only thing that could impact Rinne's season is if Shea Weber is traded.

20. Anze Kopitar

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    2012-13: Boom

    Anze Kopitar really came through in the clutch for the Los Angeles Kings during their Stanley Cup run, and he was solid during the regular season.

    Kopitar scored 25 goals and assisted on 51 others for a grand total of 76 points during the regular season, and it was a breakout year. With a more defined top-six heading into the '12-'13 season, Kopitar is primed to have a monster season.

19. Jordan Eberle

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    2012-13: Boom

    Jordan Eberle may be the best player to emerge from the Edmonton Oilers' current corps of youngsters. Eberle scored 34 goals and assisted on 42 others for a solid 76-point season in 2011-12.

    Eberle is still so young and so talented, and it will be interesting to see if he can hit the 80-point mark next year.

    The Oilers will really benefit from a maturing forward group highlighted by players like Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hokpins.

18. Marian Gaborik

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    2012-13: Bust

    Marian Gaborik will start the year with a strike against him because he will miss some time as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

    Nonetheless, Gaborik seems to be a streaky player who is good one year and average the next. He is coming off a season in which he was third in the NHL with 41 goals and finished with 76 points.

    Gaborik will look to break the trend next year, but the time away from the game could make him rusty.

17. Joe Thornton

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    2012-13: Bust

    This past season, Joe Thornton scored 18 goals and assisted on 59 goals and put up 77 points. Thornton was also a plus-17 while taking only 31 penalty minutes. It was a solid year for the Sharks pivot but he is starting to slow down a bit.

    Thornton is getting older, so look for the Sharks to try and bring in some new talent in order to make a sizable Stanley Cup run.


16. Ray Whitney

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    2012-13: Even

    Ray Whitney had a marvelous season considering his age. His nickname, "The Wizard," aptly describes his magical play for the Phoenix Coyotes this past season.

    Whitney continued to be a scoring threat, was a successful power-play producer and tallied 24 goals, 53 assists and 77 points on the season.

    He will be surrounded with a better supporting cast in Dallas, but as he gets older, it will be hard to surpass his previous totals, so expect him to at least come close to duplicating his past performance.

15. Zdeno Chara

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    2012-13: Boom

    Zdeno Chara is one of the league's best defensemen, and that showed this past season. Chara finished the season with 12 goals, 40 assists, 52 points and a plus-rating of plus-33. 

    Chara just continues to get better with age, and his consistency is something that will benefit the Bruins.

14. Erik Karlsson

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    2012-13: Bust

    Erik Karlsson is going to have a good season, but not as good as he was in 2011-12. Karlsson's game is now well-known, so he won't be able to capitalize on the same set plays he used with Ottawa forwards last year.

    Karlsson also will be roughed up a bit more this year because teams learned that the more you hit Karlsson, the less impact he had on a game.

    Expect Karlsson to hover between 50-60 points next season.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Toews

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    2012-13: Boom

    Jonathan Toews wasn't a member of the original list because injuries limited his season. Ordinarily, he is a top-15 player, so that is why he is included in this list.

    Toews was a point-per-game player in a shortened 2011-12 campaign, so expect him to continue his superb play as long as he is healthy for the entire 82-game schedule.

13. Marian Hossa

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    2012-13: Even

    Marian Hossa had a solid season for the Chicago Blackhawks, and he could have been more of a factor in the playoffs if Raffi Torres didn't take his head off with a blatant dirty hit. Nonetheless, in the regular season, Hossa finished 12th in scoring with 78 points and finished with a plus-rating of plus-18.

    Hossa will look to come back with a vengeance next season after his 2011-12 season was cut short.

12. Jonathan Quick

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    2012-13: Even

    Jonathan Quick had a tremendous season. He was the Conn Smythe recipient in the playoffs and finished second in the Vezina voting. 

    Quick posted an impressive stat line of 35-21-13 with an absurd GAA of 1.95 and 10 shutouts. Quick had an amazing season and was one of the league's best goalies. 

    Repeating a Stanley Cup-winning performance is never easy, so there is no reason why Quick can't be equally good as last season.

11. Patrik Elias

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    2012-13: Bust

    The New Jersey Devils may have went to the Stanley Cup final in 2011-12, but they are going to fall back to Earth in 2012-13.

    Patrik Elias is one of the league's revered veterans who still has an impact on the game today. He was second on the New Jersey Devils in scoring and finished the season with 78 points during the 2011-12 season.

    The loss of Zach Parise will force Elias to take a larger role on the team, and that added pressure could weigh on the elder statesman of the Devils.

    Elias will not completely bust in 2012-13, but I don't think he will be among the league leaders in points.

10. Henrik Lundqvist

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    2012-13: Boom

    Henrik Lundqvist captured his first Vezina Trophy after going 39-18-5 with a 1.97 GAA and a total of eight shutouts. Lundqvist was the NHL's top goalie this year. He took his game to new heights this past season, and he will threaten to hit the 40-win plateau in 2012-13.

    Lundqvist will have a deeper and stronger defense core surrounding him, so he will not be forced to be completely perfect like he was at times in previous years.

9. Henrik Sedin

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    2012-13: Even

    Don't expect anything extremely better or worse from Henrik Sedin this season. 

    Henrik Sedin dipped in points from his previous season, but it wasn't as bad as the dip his brother Daniel took. H.Sedin finished with 67 assists, 84 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-23.

    These are solid numbers, but not the numbers he would like to have after a full season.

    Sedin will likely replicate his performance from last season, and hopefully, his brother can do the same so the duo can rekindle its 2010-11 success.

8. John Tavares

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    2012-13: Boom

    John Tavares has the potential to become the next face of the NHL. His talent is undeniable, his professionalism is unrivaled and he is one of the most loyal players in the NHL.

    2011-12 was a huge step in the right direction for Tavares, but 2012-13 will be even better for him.

    Tavares'  81 points and 51 assists are something that should give the Islanders hope for the future, but in 2012-13, it wouldn't be shocking to see Tavares hit the 90-point mark.

7. James Neal

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    2012-13: Even

    James Neal emerged in a big way for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He finished fourth in goal scoring with 40 markers and he also added 41 assists to his name.

    With a healthy Sidney Crosby, Neal could see less ice time, so it wouldn't be surprising if Neal's production drops ever so slightly.

6. Phil Kessel

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    2012-13: Even

    Phil Kessel had a great season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finally played up to his potential and had a year in which he scored 37 goals and 83 points. Kessel got off to a fast start and then meandered through the down stretch of the season.

    Kessel will likely repeat this success, but he won't exceed it. 

5. Jason Spezza

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    2012-13: Boom

    Jason Spezza has been a mainstay for the Ottawa Senators, and he is growing as a player. Spezza had a solid season and scored 34 goals and assisted on 50 others for 84 points. 

    The Senators are really growing as a team, and Spezza really has the potential to take his game to new heights in 2012-13.

4. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    2012-13: Boom

    Ilya Kovalchuk led the New Jersey Devils with 83 points during the 2011-12 season. Kovy scored 37 goals and had a solid postseason. There is a good chance that Kovalchuk could be named the Devils' new captain after the departure of Zach Parise.

    Kovalchuk played with nagging injuries throughout the entire season, so he should be commended for his toughness.

    He has the potential to return to his 50-goal potential, but he will need to come out with a booming start next season.

Honorable Mention: Sidney Crosby

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    2012-13: Boom

    Sidney Crosby spent most of the 2011-12 season injured, and he wasn't a member of the list. However, he is a top-50 player and is included in the rankings heading into next season.

    Crosby is a generational player who has undeniable talent. He has done amazing things statistical in such a short time, so if he remains healthy for an 82-game schedule, he could make some serious noise.

3. Claude Giroux

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    2012-13: Boom

    Claude Giroux could be the league's next big star. He had a monster year in which he scored 28 goals and assisted on 65 others for 93 points. In the process, Giroux became the de facto face of the franchise and the Flyers' leader.

    Giroux has a bright future, and it will be fun to watch him next season. Next year, Giroux will hit the 100-point mark and will cement his role as the Flyers' next captain.

2. Steven Stamkos

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    2012-13: Boom

    Steven Stamkos scored 60 goals this season and was the main offensive producer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stammer had to pick up the slack as many of his teammates had down years.

    In 82 games, Stamkos finished with 97 points and continued to improve as one of the NHL's best forwards.

    Steve Yzerman made some solid acquisitions and free-agent signings that stabilized the Lightning's situation in net and the state of their blueline.

    With a stronger team, Stamkos can lead the Lightning back to the playoffs.

1. Evgeni Malkin

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    2012-13: Even

    Evgeni Malkin captured the Art Ross, Hart and Ted Lindsay Trophies at the NHL Awards this year. Malkin scored an amazing 109 points in 75 games. He also has a solid rating of plus-18 on the season

    There is no way that he can be predicted to be a bust for the 2012-13 season, so it is likely that he will duplicate his production within ten or more points. If Malkin plays in every single game, there is no reason why he can't demolish his personal best set this season.