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January 15, 2013
Top 10 Projected Goal Scorers
by Ryan Wagman and ESPN Insider
In 1994-95, the NHL narrowly avoided hockey Armageddon, as a handful of large-market owners came to the conclusion that the need to implement a salary cap was not dire enough to cancel an entire season, thereby ending a lockout that had been more than three months in the making.That season is considered by many to be the first of the "dead puck era," as the average combined goals per game dropped from 6.48 in 1993-94 to 5.97. Even so, five players still managed to score at least 30 goals in the shortened season. Washington Capitals legend Peter Bondra led the league with 34 goals, while a 22-year-old Jaromir Jagr finished second with 32.
Jagr is once more an active NHLer and the Capitals still have a legendary European goal scorer, but neither is expected to walk away with the 2013 Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer in the latest shortened season. VUKOTA expects to see six of last season's top 10 remain on the leaderboard for this season. Here's the top 10 roundup, along with their 48-game goal projections.
1. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning, 28 goals
Stamkos, who first led the NHL in goals scored as a 19-year-old in his sophomore season, led again last season, as his incredible 60 markers validated VUKOTA's preseason love. Even more impressive was the fact he broke his previous career high while actually reducing his power-play production. As he has not missed a game since his rookie season, Stamkos is as reliable as it gets. With VUKOTA conservative by nature, we should not be surprised in the least if Stamkos can turn his blistering wrist shot into another Rocket Richard Trophy and beat his projection once again.
2. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins, 23 goals
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