The intensity and pressure that will be felt by all the players during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL season could result in plenty of offensive excitement for fans.
During the most recent year that was shortened by a lockout (1994-95), there were 24 players who scored a point per game or better over the 48-game schedule (among all players who played at least 40 games). Only six players scored a point per game last season.
According to Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports, the 2012-13 season will also be 48 games in length.
NHL sends memo to clubs indicating no camps before Saturday (and may not open until Monday), 48-game season to begin Jan. 19—Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 7, 2013
Let's look at a projection of the top 10 scorers for the upcoming season.
Tyler Seguin will have the best season of his NHL career in 2012-13 and will lead the Boston Bruins in scoring for the second straight year.
The 20-year-old forward improved his scoring by an astounding 45 points last year and took great strides in his development. He finished with 29 goals and 38 assists in 81 games, impressive on a team that focuses so much on defense.
Seguin has become an elite offensive player and will continue to get better alongside his usual linemates, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand—one of the best two-way lines in the NHL.
Even though you cannot compare the quality of competition in the NHL and the Swiss National A League, Seguin did score 25 goals in 29 games for EHC Biel during the lockout. He could come out of the gate this year in midseason form.
It would be surprising if Seguin doesn't score at a point-per-game pace this season, especially if he starts the year as strongly as he did last season, when he racked up 10 points in his first 10 games.
Jordan Eberle will establish himself as one of the elite offensive players in the NHL this year.
He led the Edmonton Oilers in goals (34), assists (42) and points (76) in 78 games last season, and could easily lead the team in those three categories again.
As an elite scorer playing alongside one of the best young playmakers in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it would be surprising if Eberle isn't a point-per-game player this year.
Not only should Eberle be among the league leaders in points this season, he could also finish among the top five goal scorers.
San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton is still an elite player and one of the top centers in the NHL.
The Sharks could be one of the teams that benefit the most from a lockout-shortened season because they are one of the league's oldest clubs.
Playing alongside veteran wingers Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat will also help Thornton again finish among the league leaders in assists.
Marleau is one of the most consistent and reliable goal scorers in the NHL, and despite playing in only 39 games last season because of injury, Havlat is capable of scoring 20-plus goals in a full season.
Thornton's offensive production improved by seven points last season, and he is showing no signs of regressing. He's one of the most talented playmakers in the NHL and is a lock to finish in the top 10 in scoring.
Jonathan Toews didn't play anywhere during the lockout, but that shouldn't prevent him from building on the progress he made offensively last season.
He racked up 57 points in 59 games last year, and started off the season hot with 25 points in his first 25 games.
Toews has always been a spectacular playmaker, but last season he was more aggressive in trying to score goals. Toews took a career-high 3.14 shots per game last year, and the result was him being on pace to set a new career high in goals until he sustained a concussion.
His points-per-game average has increased in each of the last three seasons, and it's hard to imagine this streak ending in 2012-13.
Toews will perform at a point-per-game level for the first time in his career this year and finish in the top 10 in scoring.
If Vancouver Canucks winger Daniel Sedin didn't miss the last few weeks of the season because of a concussion, he probably would have finished among the league's top 10 scorers last year.
Sedin has scored at least 29 goals with 37 or more assists in six straight seasons. There are few players more consistent offensively than the Canucks star.
He finished last year with 30 goals and 37 assists in 72 games, and with second-line center Ryan Kesler unavailable to start the season because of injury, Sedin will shoulder more of the Canucks' scoring burden than usual.
Sedin may be nearing the end of his prime, but he's still an elite player who also has two very talented linemates in Alexandre Burrows and his brother Henrik.
You won't find many players as dependable as Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin.
Sedin has averaged 92.25 points in the last four seasons, and there's no reason to believe his offensive production will start to decline in 2012-13. He's also the only NHL player with 60 or more assists in each of the last six seasons.
Even though many fans label Sedin as a "soft" player, he hasn't missed a regular-season game since the 2003-04 season.
Since he will probably be in the Canucks lineup every game this year, Sedin is going to be among the leaders in scoring because he's one of the three best playmakers in the NHL.
Claude Giroux had an amazing 2011-12 season and finished third in scoring with 93 points in 77 games.
The Philadelphia Flyers star will once again score more than a point per game with two great goal scorers, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek, alongside him on the team's top line.
Not only is Giroux one of the league's best playmakers (he ranked second in assists in 2011-12), he is also a quality goal scorer. This is one area of his game that has gotten better over the last three years, and there's still plenty of room for improvement.
Giroux proved in the 2012 playoffs that he is capable of scoring a lot of goals when he looks for his own offense. He scored eight goals in 10 playoff games last year.
Expect Giroux to have another spectacular season and rack up a ton of points on one of the league's top offensive teams.
Steven Stamkos had the best season of his young career in 2011-12 when he scored 60 goals with 37 assists in 82 games.
He won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer, but finished 12 points behind Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin for the scoring title.
Stamkos is the only player in the NHL who has scored 45 or more goals in each of the last three seasons, and there's no reason to think he will regress since he has yet to reach his prime.
There's no question that Stamkos will score a ton of goals this season, but he's also capable of racking up lots of assists, too.
Stamkos doesn't get the credit he deserves for his tremendous passing skills because his goal numbers have been so impressive, but he has averaged 42.3 assists per year over the last three seasons.
He's the total package offensively and will once again finish among the top three scorers in the league during the lockout-shortened season.
Evgeni Malkin led the league in assists and points last season, which earned him the Art Ross and Hart trophies. He also finished first in points per game (1.45).
Malkin will finish in the top three in scoring again this season because he is an elite offensive player and has a 40-goal scorer in James Neal playing on his wing.
The 26-year-old star has averaged 1.23 points per game throughout his six-year NHL career, and if he continues at that pace this season, he will score 59 points (if he plays 48 games).
It's hard to imagine Malkin having a disappointing season when he's playing some of the best hockey of his career, having just dominated the KHL with 65 points (23 goals and 42 assists) in 37 games during the NHL lockout.
Expect another stellar season from the second-best offensive player in the NHL.
No surprise here.
Sidney Crosby is the most talented offensive player in the game, and unless he misses a number of games due to injury, he will finish the season as the league's top scorer.
Crosby didn't play overseas during the lockout, but he skated often and was able to get some much-needed rest.
When he came back last season and played 22 games over the last two months of the year, Crosby played some of the best hockey of his career.
In every year that Crosby has missed five games or fewer, he has scored 100-plus points, so if he plays most or all of the 48 games this season, he could score as many as 65 points. A strong start for Crosby will make it difficult for anyone to catch him in the scoring race.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
Points projections were made using the following criteria:
- Number of games each player is expected to play
- Offensive production over the last four seasons
- Quality of linemates
- Special circumstances (played during lockout, fully recovered from recent injury, etc.)
- Individual improvement
- Quality of competition (division and conference opponents)