NHL Hockey Column: Studs & Duds
NHL 2012-13 Short Season Predictions
I am as happy as the next poolie to finally fill my spare time with some Fantasy hockey. And what better way to kick off the season by sharing a few predications? It is easy to go with the favorites, and I am guilty of that as well. However, given a short season, anything can happen. Heck, even Phil Kessel may be considered a Rocket Richard nominee, with that other elite sniper riding shotgun. Well, probably not, but you get the point.
Stanley Cup – Pittsburgh Penguins
Why? A short season means less chance for two of the best players in the world to get hurt. That should translate to big, and timely, production. Even though recent memory shows a huge defensive collapse in last year’s playoffs, with Tomas Vokoun now serving as back up, you can expect better numbers from the new tandem.
Conn Smythe – Sidney Crosby
Why? The face of the NHL delivers once again. This result is probably at the top of the NHL’s wish list in terms of damage control. Essentially, Crosby winning the Conn Smythe, as well as the Cup, would go a long way to keep the young fans addicted to the game.
Art Ross and Hart – Evgeni Malkin
Why? Conditioning. Malkin had a great head start with 65 points in 37 KHL games. If there is anyone who is physically ready to dominate, it is Malkin. Yes, Crosby is 100% healthy, and could definitely challenge, but I am going with Malkin for both repeat wins.
Rocket Richard – Steven Stamkos
Why? Give me the guy who scored 60 last season and 156 goals over the last three seasons combined. You simply cannot go against those numbers. If there was a poll and 100 poolies voted, Stamkos would get 99 votes. The lone vote would be some Leafs fan voting for Phil Kessel. Jokes aside, Stamkos is your man in this category.
Vezina – Pekka Rinne
Why? If the Preds do well in life after Ryan Suter, and make the playoffs, it will be largely due to Rinne. He is as sound as any other elite goalie and we will see what he is made of this season. Henrik Lundqvist is obviously the sexiest pick, but having just won the Vezina, I do not see him repeating. To be honest, this trophy is anyone’s game. Any goalie from Cam Ward to Carey Price can take this one home, which makes this an interesting race.
Calder – Justin Schultz
Why? Again, some fancier picks may be Nail Yakupov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Galchenyuk, but I am going with the hot hand. In 34 AHL games, Schultz recorded 48 points. While that pace will go down at the NHL level, Schultz has found early chemistry with the young Oilers squad.
Norris – Kris Letang
Why? Before getting derailed with an injury last season, Letang was lights out. There is no doubt that he will be able to resume that spectacular play and get the job done in Pittsburgh. While you cannot count out the likes of Zdeno Chara and current holder, Erik Karlsson, Letang will finish the season as a strong contender for the Norris title.
There you have it folks, a few favorites and a few surprises. Good luck this season and enjoy the ride.
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