Every NHL season, there are countless projections focused on how much players will score. Each year, I go back and look at my forecast to see where I missed the mark. Without fail, there are players who significantly exceed expectations and, without fail, there are others that fall flat.
Below is a comparison of my 2013 NHL point projections with their actual points-per-game results.
There are several reasons that players might have exceeded my expectations; most notably, they had a breakout year, performing at a level that they had yet to achieve in the NHL. That's true of the defencemen at the top of the list, Kris Letang and P.K. Subban, as well as young scorers like Nazem Kadri, Taylor Hall, Derek Stepan, Jiri Tlusty and Cody Franson.
On the other hand, there are proven performers, that might have been on a down slope, who bounced back with productive years, like Mike Green, Patrick Kane and Brad Boyes.
It turns out that it's possible to underestimate how good it is to play alongside Sidney Crosby, as both Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis were among those to exceed my preseason expectations the most.
In a season already shortened by the lockout, missing any substantial time with injuries could pretty much wipe out a player's forecast, and that counts for those that exceeded -- Joffrey Lupul, Ville Leino -- as it does for those that came up way short like Stephen Weiss, Mikael Samuelsson, Ryan Malone, Martin Havlat and others.
One of the biggest disappointments, on a points-per-game basis, was actually Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins centre who finished with 33 points in 31 games. That production is nothing to scoff at, but after leading the league with 109 points in 2011-2012, and ripping up the KHL during the lockout (scoring 65 points in 37 games), Malkin was my projected top scorer.
Beyond Malkin, among those projected for better than a point-per-game the biggest underachievers in terms of point production were: Daniel Sedin, Joe Thornton and Ilya Kovalchuk. (Note: This is a simple differential being used, so it's much easier for Malkin to be further off from his projection than some player in the middle or low end of the pool. Chad LaRose's ratio from 0.44 to 0.11, for example, is much, much worse.)
Teemu Selanne dropped off sharply, while Sergei Kostitsyn, Marian Gaborik, Mikhail Grabovski, Erik Cole and Scott Hartnell were among those who fell way below expectations.
On the other hand, the biggest jumps, above projection, to get to a point-per-game included: Letang, Kunitz, Hall, Kane, Lupul, Martin St. Louis, Thomas Vanek and Alexander Semin.
Oddly enough, what was easily my most contentious preseason projection -- calling for Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle to have a dip in production -- turned out to be on the mark. When looking at so many that finish above and below my forecasts, it eases the mind a little to at least be on target once in a while.
To make sure my head doesn't get too big about it, though, here are the players that finished in the Top 200 in league scoring, but were not in my Top 300 Projections.
Some are easy enough to understand, as rookies or veterans who hadn't scored much recently, but here are the dozen players that came from off the board to score at least 20 points in 2013: Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Saad, Slava Voynov, Cody Eakin, Francois Beauchemin, Andrew Cogliano, Matt Stajan, Jay Bouwmeester, Shawn Matthias, Kyle Palmieri, John Mitchell, Joel Ward
Here is the full list of projections and results from the 2013 NHL season:
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy Sports on Facebook.