It is extremely important to get off to a hot start in a lockout shortened season.
With the lockout-shortened season officially underway, it will be up to the young core of the Edmonton Oilers to shoulder the lion's share of the scoring this season.
The Oilers started the season in fine fashion with a shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 20 and will look to build upon that momentum as the season starts rolling along.
With a roster that boasts such talented stars as Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and their newest addition, Nail Yakupov, the Oilers should have no trouble filling the stat sheets this season.
Here are the point predictions for the Edmonton Oilers' top 10 players.
If Whitney can stay healthy he should put up respectable numbers this season.
Ryan Whitney is an offensive defenseman and will be looked to as a leader on this young Edmonton Oilers team.
After two injury-shortened seasons, Whitney's numbers should increase from last year when he contributed three goals and 17 assists for 20 points.
If Whitney can stay healthy he should be able to put up respectable numbers in this lockout-shortened season.
2012-13 Projection: Around 30 point, with at least 20 assists. Plus-minus rating of around minus-five
Smyth will get his share of 'dirty goals' this season from his office in front of the net.
Though Smyth may be getting up there in age, he has still proven that he is able to compete at a high level.
Smyth registered 46 points in 82 games played last season and provided a veteran presence in the locker room to the emerging stars on the team.
Smyth will likely see third-line minutes this season with Nail Yakupov on the team, so a dip in production could be expected. Plus-minus will also take a hit seeing as the gritty left winger should be a premier penalty killer for the Oilers.
2012-13 Projection: Around eight to 10 goals and 10 to 15 assists with a plus-minus rating of minus-eight.
Devan Dubnyk will have to step up his game in order for the Oilers to compete in the short season.
Thanks to his new two-year contract worth $7 million, Devan Dubnyk is the new No. 1 goaltender in Edmonton.
Whether or not he deserves this position is up for debate, but Dubnyk will get the chance to succeed this season, and with the aging Nikolai Khabibulin on the sidelines due to injury, expect Dubnyk to play in 35-40 games.
Last season Dubnyk posted respectable numbers with 20 wins and 20 losses with a 2.67 goals against average and .914 save percentage.
If the defense in Edmonton improves their play in front of him, Dubnyk's numbers should improve as well.
2012-13 Projection: 28-34 wins with around a 2.70 goals against average and .930 save percentage
Sam Gagner is in his fifth year with the Oilers and is still only 23.
Sam Gagner has been with the Oilers for what seems like an eternity, but the talented center is only 23 and looks poised to have a breakout season.
Centering a line between the pass-first playmaker Ales Hemsky, and the Russian dynamo Nail Yakupov, should see Gagner's point total increase from last year (proportionally to the condensed schedule).
Gagner factors to also get quite a bit of power play time and could find himself on a line with either Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle, so the offensive potential is certainly there.
2012-13 Projection: 15 goals and 20-25 assists and should register a plus-minus of around plus-five.
While it is unlikely that Justin Schultz will duplicate his AHL performance, he should still be a big factor in the Oilers' offense this season.
Justin Schultz had quite the prolific career playing in the NCAA and followed that up with an equally impressive debut in the AHL for the Oklahoma City Barons.
Schultz registered an amazing 48 points in 34 games but will find that teams in the NHL will be keying on him more.
While expectations might be too high for the young defenseman, he should still factor in the Oilers' potent power play and will likely lead the charge from the back end.
2012-13 Projection: 10-15 goals and around 15 assists with a minus-seven rating.
Hemsky should benefit greatly being paired with Nail Yakupov.
This may be the first season that Ales Hemsky's pass-first mentality is not criticized by Edmonton Oilers fans, as the talented winger should benefit from playing with Nail Yakupov.
With Yakupov being an outright sniper, Hemsky could prove to be the perfect partner and could rack up the assists over the course of the season.
Hemsky also has the ability to put the puck in the net, so this could be quite the year for the Czech Republic native.
2012-13 Projection: 10-15 goals and 20-25 assists with a plus-minus rating around plus-10.
Nail Yakupov will be exciting to watch this season as he familiarizes himself with the NHL game.
Nail Yakupov should be ready to go in the shortened 2013 season after spending time playing in the KHL during the lockout.
Unfortunately for the talented winger, there will be little time to get acclimated to the NHL and Yakupov will be looked upon to contribute immediately.
With natural goal-scoring ability it should only be a matter of time before Yakupov hits his stride in Edmonton, and playing with guys such as Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky should provide Yakupov with every opportunity to succeed.
Sometimes criticized for his lack of defensive zone efforts, Yakupov could be on the lower side of the plus-minus scale in Edmonton.
2012-13 Projection: 10-15 goals and around 15-20 assists with a lower plus-minus around minus-ten.
Playing in the AHL with linemates Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins should help Hall quickly find his offensive game this season.
It is clear that new head coach Ralph Krueger has big plans for the speedy left winger, having named Taylor Hall an alternate captain heading into the 2013 season.
Hall should have no problems racking up the points this season after coming off of major shoulder surgery in the offseason.
Whether or not Hall can stay healthy and play the full 48-game schedule will be the major question this season, but after joining linemates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle late in Oklahoma City, Hall had an immediate impact and will look to continue this momentum with the Oilers.
The time in AHL should do wonders for Hall and his linemates, as conditioning should not be a problem and they've had added time to build upon the dynamic chemistry the trio of youngsters established last season.
2012-13 Projection: 15-20 goals with around 20 assists and a decent plus-minus of around plus-five.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be one of the main catalysts for a potent Oilers attack this season.
After registering 52 points in 62 games and finishing second in the voting for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is primed to have a breakout season.
RNH will be another one of the core Oilers who will benefit greatly from the decision to play in the AHL during the lockout, as he and linemates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will look to provide the spark that the Oilers will need to be competitive this season.
Nugent-Hopkins also looked quite dominant during the World Junior Championships where he captained Team Canada. Though the team didn't perform up to their lofty standards, Nugent-Hopkins was one of the lone bright spots for the disappointing Canadian team.
He will have to improve in the faceoff circle in order to really take that next step and should see his plus-minus dip a bit due to defensive zone faceoff losses, but RNH is poised to take the next step in his career.
2012-13 Projection: 10-15 goals with 25-plus assists and a plus-minus rating around minus-6.
Eberle should lead the Oilers in scoring for the second consecutive year.
Jordan Eberle was the most explosive Oiler last season and head coach Ralph Krueger has rewarded his young superstar with the honor of being a permanent alternate captain.
After registering 76 points in his sophomore campaign with the club, Eberle will be the catalyst for Edmonton's attack going forward.
With gifted playmaking abilities as well as a dangerous shot, Eberle is a threat to both score or assist his teammates. With the chemistry established with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle should put up comparable numbers to last season (in proportion to the shortened schedule).
2012-13 Projection: 20-25 goals and 20-plus assists and should lead the team in plus-minus at around plus-10 or so.