It's been a long wait, but it's time to do fantasy hockey prep work for the 2013 NHL season and Scott Cullen has projections ready to cover your needs.
When you've done the prep work, check out TSN's Fantasy Hockey League Manager and have a chance to win a VIP Wednesday Night Hockey Experience just for playing.
Projections are based on historical precedent, both for the individual player in recent seasons, but also compared to similar players (age, NHL experience, production) over the last 20 years. That provides a base for a player's production, but those numbers also have to fit with the player's expected role coming into the 2013 season.
This abbreviated season also offers an additional factor. Since many players were either playing in Europe or the AHL during the lockout, there is an opportunity to factor in league equivalencies and, with the season set to start after a quick training camp, there may be an advantage for players that have been playing at a relatively high competitive level.
With all of those factors in play, Evgeni Malkin, the reigning MVP who kept himself busy dominating the KHL (scoring 65 points in 37 games), sits at the top of the forecasted scoring list and the overall fantasy rankings, just ahead of teammate Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos in both cases.
A couple of things to note about these rankings. First, the fantasy rankings are incorporating hits instead of penalty minutes for skaters. More and more fantasy leagues seem to be shifting in that direction as owners tire of picking up the one-dimensional enforcer just to fill a category.
Also, because so many players have been active, there are quite a few injury situations that aren't quite settled as teams prepare to start training camp and if that affects player status leading up to the season, the projections will be updated next week when some of these situations are more clearly defined.
In the meantime, there will fantasy preview articles, as well as NHL Power Rankings, on the way in the coming days.
Finally, the fantasy hockey season is just around the corner.