NHL

Cullen: Ovechkin the pick to lead scoring race in 2011-2012

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Scott Cullen
9/6/2011 6:10:29 PM
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Coming off a career-low 85-point season, Alexander Ovechkin is forecasted to bounce back and lead the league in scoring in the 2011-2012 NHL Point Projections.

There are a few reasons to consider Ovechkin as a candidate for a bounceback season. First off, his shooting percentage of 8.7% was easily the lowest of his career, well below his average of 11.9%, so there's a fair chance that he'll score more goals this year.

Another reason to suspect that Ovechkin could bounce back is that the Washington power play, which ranked first in 2009-2010 and second in 2008-2009, dropped to 16th last year. A Capital rebound with the man advantage should result in an increase in Ovechkin's power play scoring. He settled for a career-low 24 power play points last season after averaging 41.6 power play points in the previous five seasons.

If he's out of shape, as some off-season rumours might suggest, then Ovechkin's projection might be different (see Dustin Byfuglien) but, for now at least, we'll go on the presumption that he's as ready to play as the vast majority of the players in the league.

So, the expectation is that Ovechkin will finish with 102 points, one ahead of Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, for the Art Ross Trophy as league scoring leader.

Tandems find their place in the Top 10, with Martin St. Louis riding shotgun with Stamkos in Tampa Bay, Vancouver's Sedin Twins continuing their perennial scoring assault and the Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry also picked for the Top 10.

The wildcard remains Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who is pegged for 10th, with 80 points in 55 games, but the uncertainty surrounding his return from post-concussion syndrome makes it difficult to get an accurate read on his value for the upcoming season.

More fantasy information will follow this week, as TSN launches its Fantasy Hockey League Manager on Friday, September 9, coinciding with the release of my Top 300 fantasy rankings, along with position-by-position rankings.

For now, though, enjoy the appetizer of the Top 300 projected scorers and I'll update them, along with the fantasy rankings before the season starts when injuries and other news start to come out of NHL camps and keep following TSN.ca's 30 Teams in 30 Days NHL Preview, which includes my take on each team's statistical leaders.

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 on Facebook.

Alex Ovechkin (Photo: Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
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