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January 16, 2013
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Top 10 Projected Point Leaders

by Robert Vollman and ESPN Insider

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Every season we at Hockey Prospectus use the VUKOTA system to help predict the league's top scorers. While there are a slew of familiar faces among the projected leaders, a new name tops the list this season, one of eight coming out of the Eastern Conference.

One face you won't see? Sidney Crosby. Though currently healthy, with only 63 games over the past two seasons, the VUKOTA system was reluctant to project any more than 29 games played for Sid the Kid. After missing half of 2010-11 and three quarters of 2011-12 with post-concussion issues, you can see why the system is skittish. Per game production won't be an issue however, as VUKOTA projects Crosby for 31 points, which is actually quite good. On a points-per-game level, Crosby is ranked fourth (1.09), behind only Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux.

Here are the top 10 projected scoring leaders for the 2013 NHL season, and their predicted goal totals for the 48-game campaign:

1. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning, 54 points

Stamkos has finished in the top five in scoring the past three seasons, including second place last season. This could be the season he finally wins an Art Ross to complement his two Rocket Richard Trophies. Not an especially disciplined or defensive-minded player, the Lightning assign the 23-year-old only the most advantageous ice time at even strength, for which they were rewarded with the most even-strength goals by a single player in 20 years -- a third Rocket Richard Trophy could also be on its way.

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