Who will raise the Stanley Cup in 2013? Will the 2009 champion Pittsburgh Penguins again hoist the trophy? Or will the Boston Bruins (2011 winners), Chicago Blackhawks (2010 champion) or Vancouver Canucks (2011 runner-up) take the title?
Those teams should be considered among this season's favorites according to VUKOTA, the projection system created by Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus back in 2009. Named after Islanders tough guy Mick Vukota, VUKOTA is fundamentally a player projection system, and thus it projects individual statistics such as goals, assists, save percentage and games played -- summarized in another stat we call goals versus threshold, or GVT. However, since team GVT is simply the sum of player GVTs, the sum of the VUKOTA GVT values for a team becomes our projection for the team's goal differential. On average, teams record one extra point in the standings for every three goals scored or prevented. Using this as a barometer, we're able to use that differential to project their finish in the standings.
VUKOTA gained credibility by correctly tabbing the up-and-coming Chicago Blackhawks as 2010 Western Conference champions. And as far as individual projections go, David Staples of the Edmonton Journal concluded that VUKOTA was the best for "predicting the point totals of Edmonton Oilers players" for the past two seasons.
The chart on the right outlines VUKOTA projections for the shortened 2013 NHL season, with its original 82-game projections and 48-game equivalents.
As demonstrated last season when the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings knocked off the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils to capture the Stanley Cup, regular-season success, or lack thereof, doesn't necessarily predestine a team's fate in the postseason.