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Fantasy: 5 players poised for bounce-back seasons in 2022-23

Fantasy: 5 players poised for bounce-back seasons in 2022-23

30/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869737

The following five players disappointed in 2021-22, but we're projecting them to bounce back in a big way this season.

Note: Goalies were omitted from this post because we covered them here.

Jack Eichel, C, Golden Knights

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Eichel's stock is down after posting his lowest points-per-game mark (0.74) since his rookie year. However, several factors affected his performance. Not only was he working his way back from artificial disc replacement surgery, but he also played the final six weeks of the season with a broken thumb. Meanwhile, he had to adjust to his new surroundings in Vegas, where plenty of his teammates also missed time with injuries.

With a full training camp under his belt, look for Eichel to not only return to his 2019-20 form - when he finished eighth in Hart Trophy voting with 78 points in 68 games - but to explode for a career year.

It's easy to forget how immensely talented Eichel is after back-to-back injury-marred seasons. If he plays all 82 games, he'll contend for 100 points, especially if Mark Stone - the best linemate Eichel has ever had - stays healthy.

Dougie Hamilton, D, Devils

Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Hamilton's first year with the Devils didn't go as planned. New Jersey's prized free-agent signing missed 20 games due to injury and recorded only 30 points, his fewest since 2013-14.

It's not uncommon for players to take time - sometimes a full year - to adjust to their new surroundings, and it appears Hamilton is no exception. In his last two stops with the Flames and the Hurricanes, Hamilton was unspectacular in his first season before taking off in his second one.

That apparent trend could be a fluke, but regardless, the Devils are an ascending team with lots of young talent. A breakout year from Jack Hughes gives this offense plenty of upside. And Hamilton, a high-volume shooter who will quarterback the top power play, will be heavily involved. Hamilton, who's still just 29, could reach 60-70 points in a career year.

Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders

Brad Penner / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Barzal is simply too talented to stay quiet. He's coming off the worst season of his career after registering 15 goals and 44 assists in 73 contests, and he hasn't posted better than a point per game since his 85-point Calder Trophy campaign in 2017-18.

Unfortunately, the situation around Barzal doesn't appear to have improved: He's still stuck on the Islanders, who failed to add any talent around him.

It is possible, though, that the departure of head coach Barry Trotz could help unleash Barzal. It's true that Lane Lambert is a Trotz disciple, but he may be willing to open up the offense a bit - or, at the very least, play Barzal more than 18 minutes per game.

Barzal is one of the most gifted playmakers in the NHL. At 25 years old, he should just be coming into his own. Overlook his situation and bet on the talent in the later rounds of your draft.

Brent Burns, D, Hurricanes

Kavin Mistry / National Hockey League / Getty

Burns is coming off a very respectable 54-point campaign, but the two seasons prior were letdowns considering how elite he'd been. An offseason trade to the Hurricanes gives Burns an excellent chance to turn back the clock for one more spectacular season.

Yes, Burns is 37, but Carolina is the perfect fit for him. The Hurricanes love taking point shots and crashing the net, and that's well-suited to Burns' strengths.

Additionally, Burns gets to pair with one of the most underrated defensemen in the league in Jaccob Slavin. Not only will Slavin help push play up the ice, but his exceptional defensive awareness will allow Burns to run wild offensively. Considering how often Burns shoots the puck, the 60-70 point range is within reach.

Anze Kopitar, C, Kings

Codie McLachlan / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Kopitar tallied a respectable 67 points in 81 games last season, but it was still his fewest on a per-game basis since 2018-19. Kopitar is 35 years old now, so a large portion of the fantasy community is likely writing him off, but he could be in for one of his best offensive seasons in recent memory.

Offseason addition Kevin Fiala could make a massive difference for the Kings captain. Kopitar has had some stellar linemates, but none were as dynamic as Fiala is (and yes, that includes Marian Gaborik's successful but past-his-prime run in Los Angeles).

If Fiala can elevate Kopitar, the Slovenian could return to his point-per-game form - or better.

(Analytics source: Evolving-Hockey)

Josh Wegman has been theScore's resident fantasy hockey expert since 2015. Find him on Twitter @JoshWegman_.

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Maple Leafs sign RFA Sandin to 2-year pact with $1.4M AAV

Maple Leafs sign RFA Sandin to 2-year pact with $1.4M AAV

30/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869735

The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their contract stalemate with restricted free-agent defenseman Rasmus Sandin, signing him Thursday to a two-year pact with an average annual value of $1.4 million.

Sandin suited up for a career-high 51 contests in 2021-22. He potted five goals - good for second among all Maple Leafs defenders - and 11 assists while averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time per contest.

The Swede posted favorable underlying numbers in Toronto last season. The Maple Leafs controlled 55% of the goals, 58% of the expected goals, and 58% of the scoring chances with Sandin on the ice at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The signing comes at the perfect time for the Maple Leafs, who have run into injury trouble on their blue line before the start of the regular season. Timothy Liljegren is on the sidelines after undergoing hernia surgery, while Jake Muzzin is working through back discomfort.

Depth pieces Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom suffered injuries during Wednesday's preseason clash against the Montreal Canadiens, forcing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot to fill in on defense.

The ailment issues apparently urged Sandin's camp to get a deal done.

"This morning, Rasmus Sandin and (agent) Lewis Gross reached out to us and informed us that after watching our game last night and seeing more injuries accrued by our defense, that they wanted to get this locked in today," general manager Kyle Dubas said, according to ESPN's Kristen Shilton.

Sandin signed the same deal as teammate and fellow RFA rearguard Liljegren, who put pen to paper in late June. They'll both remain RFAs once their pacts expire. When that time comes, Sandin will be due a qualifying offer of $1.6 million, per TSN's Chris Johnston.

Selected by the Leafs in the first round of the 2018 draft, Sandin has 28 points in 88 career contests.

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7 attainable NHL milestones for the 2022-23 season

7 attainable NHL milestones for the 2022-23 season

29/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869738

It's always satisfying to see someone's hard work pay off.

The guys on this list are approaching significant markers that are seasons upon seasons in the making. Most players act nonchalant and indifferent when asked about individual achievements, but we still think their accomplishments are pretty dang cool.

Here are seven major milestones to keep an eye on once the 2022-23 campaign gets underway.

Kessel: Coming for the ironman streak

Norm Hall / National Hockey League / Getty

Let's get the slam dunk one out of the way first: Phil Kessel is just eight games away from surpassing Keith Yandle to set the NHL's new ironman record. Barring any setbacks, he will suit up for his 990th consecutive game when the Vegas Golden Knights take on the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 25. Kessel will tie Yandle the night before against the Toronto Maple Leafs, his former team.

For almost 1,000 straight games, nothing - not even injuries, illnesses, or the birth of his first child - has stopped Kessel from lacing up his skates. His longevity in the league is a marvel, and it'll be interesting to see how far he can go. Will Kessel play in all 82 games in 2022-23 to extend his streak to 1,064, or will the veteran, who'll be 35 by the time the season starts, end up watching some Golden Knights games from the press box?

Crosby and Ovechkin: Nearing 1,500 points

The Washington Post / The Washington Post / Getty

Yep, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are vying for the same milestone this season. Now we can all argue about who will hit 1,500 points first. Feasibly, both players can pull it off this season: Crosby is currently sitting at 1,409 career points, meaning he's 91 away from becoming the 15th player in NHL history to accomplish the feat, while Ovechkin is one ahead of him at 1,410.

Let's start with the Pittsburgh Penguins star first, and for the purpose of this exercise, let's assume Crosby can stay healthy enough to play a full 82-game season. If Crosby wants to hit 91 points in 82 contests, he'll need to produce at around a 1.11 point-per-game rate. The good news for him is he's only failed to hit that mark three times in his career. The only thing holding him back here is time - Crosby hasn't played in a complete 82-game campaign since 2017-18. If he misses a couple games here and there, the feat is obviously still accomplishable, but the window gets tighter and tighter.

As for the Washington Capitals captain, he hit 90 points on the nose over 77 contests in 2021-22, so he'll be just fine if he pulls that off again. However, Ovechkin didn't produce at a point-per-game rate in 2019-20 or 2020-21, which will be a must to get to 1,500 points this campaign.

Fortunately, the pair of stars are signed for multiple years beyond this season, so if they don't hit it this time, there's always the next go-around.

Ovechkin (again): Top 2 on all-time goals list

John McCreary / National Hockey League / Getty

To be fair, Ovechkin is always on milestone watch when it comes to goal-scoring, and this season is no different.

In 2021-22, he potted 50 goals to cement his place within the top three of the NHL's all-time goals list, surpassing Marcel Dionne, Brett Hull, and Jaromir Jagr.

The next name on his hit list is Gordie Howe, who sits in the No. 2 spot with 801 goals. Ovechkin currently has 780 career tallies and only needs 22 more to take over, which is essentially a lock, barring disaster: The Russian scored a career-low 24 goals in 45 games during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 campaign, but even that would have put him on pace for 44 tallies over 82 contests.

Unfortunately, this won't be the year Ovechkin takes down Wayne Gretzky for No. 1 on the list (unless he goes full Super Saiyan or something). He still needs 115 goals to pass the Great One, but depending on how Ovi fares this season, maybe he can contend for that milestone next campaign.

Bergeron, Stamkos, and Kessel: 1,000-point club

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

We've got a gaggle of guys who can all but walk into the 1,000-point club this season.

Thank goodness Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron decided to come back for another season because he's only 18 points away from being just the seventh active player to hit the milestone! He won't have his talented running mate Brad Marchand to start the 2022-23 campaign, but Bergeron is perfectly capable of doing it himself and will have probably reached the marker by the time Marchand returns in late November.

Tampa Bay Lightning stud Steven Stamkos also isn't far off, only needing 28 more points. Stammer is already the Bolts' franchise leader with 972 points, but it'll also be significant once he becomes the first player in Lightning history to eclipse 1,000 in that category.

Rounding out the top three candidates is Kessel, who will need 44 points to join the party. That shouldn't be a problem, though. As we've already established, Kessel plays a lot of games, and he got 52 points last season with the struggling Arizona Coyotes. He'll have even more offensive weapons to work with in Vegas.

Honorable mention: Joe Pavelski. The Dallas Stars maverick is coming off a career year where he hit 81 points. He needs 76 to reach 1,000, so it's possible, but it's tight. Repeating last year's success will be tough, and he only surpassed 76 points in a season on two other occasions.

Stamkos: Staring down 500 goals

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

Hey, it's Stamkos again! The Lightning captain is currently sitting at 481 goals, meaning he just needs 19 more to reach 500. This club is even more exclusive than the 1,000-point gang: Ovechkin and Crosby are the only two other active players who have lit the lamp 500 times.

Stamkos launched into this conversation by scoring 42 goals this past season for his first 40-goal campaign since 2018-19, so he certainly made this feat a lot easier on himself to accomplish.

What's more, Stamkos has played in 922 career NHL games, so he'll in all likelihood hit 500 career goals before suiting up for his 1,000th contest.

Fleury: No. 2 on all-time wins list

David Berding / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Everyone loves rooting for Marc-Andre Fleury, so fans around the league can cheer him on as the beloved goaltender vaults his way up the podium of the NHL's all-time wins list.

Fleury is already in third place with 520 victories, but he needs 32 to bump Patrick Roy out of the No. 2 spot. However, that is probably as far as he'll get: Martin Brodeur is in the gold medal position with 691 wins, and Fleury only remains signed for two more seasons. There simply isn't enough time.

However, the 37-year-old should get more than his fair share of action with the Minnesota Wild this season. His backup Filip Gustavsson is only 24 and has just 27 games of NHL experience to his name.

Carlson, Doughty, and Josi: Approaching 600 points

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

We've got three defensemen who are zeroing in on the 600-point milestone in John Carlson, Drew Doughty, and Roman Josi.

Carlson is just seven points away, so the savvy offensive-minded Capitals defenseman should have no problem becoming the seventh active blue-liner to accomplish the feat.

Also in the mix is Doughty, who needs 33 points to get it done. The Los Angeles Kings veteran had his 2021-22 campaign cut short due to injury, but he did amass 31 points in just 39 games. Doughty can certainly pull it off if he can stay healthy this season.

Josi is the furthest away at 58 points out, and he's only reached that number three times in his career. However, it'd be silly to doubt the Nashville Predators star's ability to reach the milestone. Josi is coming off a career campaign that garnered him a Norris Trophy nomination after he paced all defensemen with 96 points in 80 games.

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Zegras leaves preseason game with upper-body injury

Zegras leaves preseason game with upper-body injury

29/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869741

Anaheim Ducks phenom Trevor Zegras departed Wednesday's exhibition contest after colliding heavily with Arizona Coyotes prospect Jan Jenik midway through the second period.

Zegras went to the dressing room immediately afterward and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game with an upper-body injury.

The officials didn't hand Jenik a penalty for what appeared to be a clean hit.

Zegras is coming off a stellar season in which he finished second in Calder Trophy voting after notching 23 goals and 38 assists over 75 games.

The 21-year-old dazzled with numerous highlight-reel plays last season, including a lacrosse-style goal he set up for Sonny Milano that went viral. Zegras, who Anaheim drafted ninth overall in 2019, ranked second on the Ducks in both goals and points last season.

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Forwards Jarnkrok, Kerfoot play defense for injury-riddled Leafs

Forwards Jarnkrok, Kerfoot play defense for injury-riddled Leafs

29/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869742

Forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot took versatility to a new level Wednesday night.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were forced to play the duo on defense in their preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens when Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom went down with a groin and a shoulder injury, respectively. Head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed postgame that both are expected to miss "some time."

Keefe opted for the move with Toronto having just four healthy defensemen. In addition to Benn and Dahlstrom, Timothy Liljegren is out until at least early November following hernia surgery, while Rasmus Sandin remains unsigned.

Jarnkrok played alongside Morgan Rielly, while Kerfoot was paired with T.J. Brodie.

Toronto begins its regular season Oct. 12 against the Canadiens.

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2022-23 NHL futures: 3 best point total bets

2022-23 NHL futures: 3 best point total bets

29/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869740

The defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche will enter the 2022-23 campaign with the league's highest point total at 111.5.

Are they more likely to go over or under their season total? Where else does the value lie league-wide?

Let's dive in with the three best bets for the upcoming season.

Anaheim Ducks 79.5 -120/-105
Arizona Coyotes 66.5 -105/-125
Boston Bruins 95.5 -105/-120
Buffalo Sabres 77.5 -115/-115
Calgary Flames 102.5 -120/-105
Carolina Hurricanes 102.5 -120/-105
Chicago Blackhawks 66.5 -115/-115
Colorado Avalanche 111.5 -115/-115
Columbus Blue Jackets 79.5 -115/-115
Dallas Stars 94.5 -105/-125
Detroit Red Wings 85.5 -105/-125
Edmonton Oilers 104.5 -105/-125
Florida Panthers 105.5 -115/-115
Los Angeles Kings 95.5 -115/-115
Minnesota Wild 101.5 -105/-125
Montreal Canadiens 72.5 -115/-115
Nashville Predators 96.5 -115/-115
New Jersey Devils 88.5 -125/-105
New York Islanders 94.5 -105/-120
New York Rangers 99.5 -120/-105
Ottawa Senators 85.5 -115/-115
Philadelphia Flyers 74.5 -115/-115
Pittsburgh Penguins 101.5 -115/-115
San Jose Sharks 75.5 -115/-115
Seattle Kraken 82.5 -115/-115
St. Louis Blues 96.5 +100/-135
Tampa Bay Lightning 103.5 -115/-115
Toronto Maple Leafs 107.5 -120/-105
Vancouver Canucks 93.5 -105/-120
Vegas Golden Knights 97.5 -115/-115
Washington Capitals 95.5 -105/-125
Winnipeg Jets 87.5 -125/-105

Colorado Avalanche under 111.5 (-115)

I love the way the Avalanche have built their team over the years and truly believe they're going to be a perennial contender. This line feels a little extreme, though. A year ago they cleared this total by 7.5 points, and that was with Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and Darcy Kuemper in the fold. Kadri put up 87 points in just 71 games, Burakovsky exceeded 60 points, and Kuemper posted one of the league's highest five-on-five save percentages during the regular season. Losing each of those players will sting.

The Avalanche did a nice job of adding some affordable support pieces around the edges - Evan Rodrigues is a great scheme fit and Alexandar Georgiev should benefit from playing behind a better defense core - but they remain clear downgrades.

Don't get me wrong: The Avalanche can and will pile up the wins again. But they could be one of the NHL's best teams and still fail to clear such a high point total.

New Jersey Devils over 88.5 (-125)

The Devils figure to be one of the NHL's most improved teams this season. Their five-on-five profile was actually quite good last season, relatively speaking. They were sunk by the league's worst goaltending, an egregiously bad power play under Mark Recchi, and injuries to key players like Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton.

Vitek Vanecek finished top 10 in five-on-five save percentage a year ago and will be a big improvement in goal. A healthy Mackenzie Blackwood will help, too, and there's still a possibility that Jonathan Bernier can get right and join the mix. New Jersey doesn't have a star netminder by any stretch but could have three competent NHL goalies sooner than later.

The Devils do have a fantastic core of young forwards led by Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, Dawson Mercer, and Yegor Sharangovich. Top prospect Alexander Holtz is expected to make the jump and will add scoring pop up front, as will the offseason signing of Ondrej Palat.

The power play should be more potent as well now that it's run by Andrew Brunette, a Jack Adams finalist last season.

Lastly, John Marino and, to a lesser extent, Brendan Smith will add some stability and depth to the back end.

Tom Fitzgerald may not have added any marquee names, but he improved the roster up front, on defense, in goal, and behind the bench. If the Devils' top players stay healthy, the team will seriously contend for a playoff spot.

New York Islanders under 94.5 (-120)

The New York Islanders were an 84-point team a season ago. Despite getting all-world goaltending from Ilya Sorokin, they finished 11 points below what they'd need to clear this total.

While the Islanders did deal with injury troubles, that can come with the territory for older teams, and they certainly are that.

Outside of Sorokin's play, nothing really stood out in a positive way for the Isles. They ranked 22nd in expected goals share, 25th in scoring chances share, and 28th in shot share at five-on-five.

Their only notable addition this summer was Alexander Romanov, a defense-only rearguard who doesn't really move the needle even in the areas perceived to be his strengths.

New York could have better luck with injuries this year and might get a boost from new head coach Lane Lambert, but regardless, I don't see the Islanders as a 95-plus-point team in a competitive Metropolitan Division.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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Blue Jackets sign Peeke to 3-year extension with $2.75M AAV

Blue Jackets sign Peeke to 3-year extension with $2.75M AAV

29/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869743

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Andrew Peeke to a three-year extension with an average annual value of $2.75 million beginning in 2023-24, the team announced Wednesday.

Peeke, 24, played all 82 games for the Blue Jackets last season, posting two goals and 13 assists while averaging just over 21 minutes of ice time per contest.

The Florida native will play out the final season of a two-year pact with a cap hit of $787,500 this campaign. He could have become a restricted free agent next summer.

"Andrew is a smart, versatile defenseman who moves the puck well, added an element of physicality to his game last season, and showed that he can play effectively in all situations," general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. "He arguably was our most improved player a year ago, and we are excited to see what the future holds for him as he continues to develop and progress as a player."

Peeke led the Blue Jackets with 169 blocks in 2021-22 and ranked second on the team with 191 hits.

Selected by Columbus in the second round of the 2016 draft, Peeke has 21 points in 115 career contests, all with the Blue Jackets.

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Predicting the top 5 scorers of the 2022-23 NHL season

Predicting the top 5 scorers of the 2022-23 NHL season

29/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869739

Scoring was up across the NHL last season, as eight players broke the 100-point barrier for the first time since 1995-96. From an entertainment standpoint, let's hope the offensive surge wasn't an outlier and that we get more of the same from the league's biggest stars starting in October.

There's no guarantee on who may or may not light the lamps next season - health is the biggest factor in production - but we're taking a stab at guessing this campaign's top-five point-getters. Our list is full of usual suspects, but alas, here's how we think the scoring race will shake out.

5. Kirill Kaprizov

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

2021-22 stats: 81 GP, 47 G, 61 A, 31 PPP, 19:06 ATOI

Kaprizov was sensational in his first full NHL season, finishing fifth in the NHL with 108 points after winning the Calder Trophy a year prior. He scored 23 more points than the next most productive Minnesota Wild skater. Kaprizov achieved his monstrous numbers despite ranking 47th among all forwards in average ice time.

His production in limited minutes - Kaprizov slotted fifth league-wide in points per 60 (3.24) last season - is one of a few reasons the Russian should be counted on to push for an Art Ross. If he sees an increase in minutes, it's only natural to assume a player of his caliber will take advantage of a bigger role. Minnesota also lost a key contributor in Kevin Fiala this summer, meaning more of the offensive load will fall on Kaprizov's plate.

Kaprizov doesn't have the luxury of a deep cast of offensive catalysts on his team like the players ranked ahead of him on this list. He's projected to share the Wild's top line and first power-play unit with Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello. Kaprizov is unquestionably the guy in Minnesota, and making him an even bigger centerpiece of the attack should lead to fireworks.

4. Nathan MacKinnon

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

2021-22 stats: 65 GP, 32 G, 56 A, 27 PPP, 21:04 ATOI

Stanley Cup? Check. Richest contract in the league coming his way? Check. MacKinnon has virtually nothing left to accomplish in the hockey world after a gigantic summer, but we all know he's not the type to rest on his laurels. In our minds, his recent accomplishments should leave him unencumbered to achieve one thing that's surprisingly eluded him throughout his career: a 100-point season. MacKinnon has been on pace to reach the century mark in each of the past three campaigns but came up short due to the pandemic and injury. The closest he's come is recording 99 and 97 points.

There are no hot takes required to justify this selection. MacKinnon is on the shortlist for best-player-in-the-world status. He owns a 1.35 points-per-game rate over the past three seasons combined. He's the focal point of the league's most dangerous offense. He's fresh off lighting the playoffs on fire. And he'll be motivated as anyone to get back to hockey's summit. There's no need to overthink this.

3. Auston Matthews

Andrew Lahodynskyj / National Hockey League / Getty

2021-22 stats: 73 GP, 60 G, 46 A, 29 PPP, 20:37 ATOI

Matthews provided the NHL's first 60-goal campaign in a decade and topped the 100-point mark for the first time last season. We think he's in store for even bigger things in 2022-23. The reigning MVP finished sixth in scoring (and third in points per game) last campaign despite recovering from an early-season wrist injury that limited him to only two points in six games in October. If Matthews is full speed for 82 contests, the sky is the limit.

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs iced the league's top power-play unit a season ago, Matthews managed a modest 29 points on the man advantage - good for 16th in the NHL and second among Toronto skaters. If Matthews catches a few more breaks while the Leafs are up a man, he's almost a lock to establish new career highs due to his even-strength dominance. He ranked third with 77 even-strength points in 2021-22, and his five-on-five expected goals mark of 64.16% was the best in the league among players to log over 1,000 minutes.

Matthews is the odds-on favorite to capture a third consecutive goal-scoring crown, but we estimate this is the year he'll throw his hat in the ring for the Art Ross as well.

2. Leon Draisaitl

Codie McLachlan / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2021-22 stats: 80 GP, 55 G, 55 A, 41 PPP, 22:21 ATOI

Given that only one of the last six Art Ross winners has played on a team outside of Edmonton, you probably could have guessed who our top two candidates are before even opening this list.

Draisaitl's racked up 409 points in 289 games since 2018-19. Sure, he shares a lot of ice time with the best player in the world, but the Oilers' dynamic sidekick deserves his fair share of credit as one of the most gifted talents in the game. If he keeps going at the rate he's established, it's safe to say he's on the fast track to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The German is one of the league's top marksmen but also has the intelligence to set up teammates with ease - as evidenced by his 32 playoff points this past spring while visibly fighting through a high ankle sprain. Draisaitl hasn't finished outside the top five in scoring since the 2017-18 campaign. Barring something completely unforeseen, there's no reason to believe he won't be there again this coming season.

1. Connor McDavid

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

2021-22 stats: 80 GP, 44 G, 79 A, 44 PPP, 22:04 ATOI

Shocker, we know.

McDavid is fresh off his fourth scoring title in seven years and set new career highs across the board. No. 97 has become so dominant offensively that nothing he can do from here on out will surprise the hockey world. But it's important that fans and pundits alike relish in his excellence while he's still in his prime. For context, McDavid is approaching the 500-game mark, and his career 1.43 points-per-game clip is good for fourth in league history. He trails only Wayne Gretzky (1.92), Mario Lemieux (1.88), and Mike Bossy (1.49) in that department.

McDavid's 123 points last season were the third most of the salary cap era. Shortened seasons aside, the 25-year-old has set a new career high every campaign, so the 130-point barrier is certainly in play in 2022-23 if he suits up for 82 games.

While McDavid has been viewed as an elite setup man throughout his career, we may see a slight changing of the guard this season. He said at the NHL's media tour that he devoted plenty of time this summer studying different ways to score goals and has flirted with the idea of being "a little more selfish" on the ice.

Good luck, opposition.

Just missed the cut:
Nikita Kucherov, Lightning
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs
Artemi Panarin, Rangers
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche
Aleksander Barkov, Panthers

(Advanced stats source: Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick)

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Report: NHL salary cap could increase nearly $10M by 2025-26 season

Report: NHL salary cap could increase nearly $10M by 2025-26 season

28/09/2022, USA, Hockey-Ice, NHL (ice-hockey), Article # 30869744

The NHL is preparing for a significant salary cap increase over the next three seasons, sources told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Rory Boylen.

Teams reportedly received projections of the approximate salary cap through 2025-26. These values aren't guarantees but reflect the league's estimations. The 2022-23 salary cap is $82.5 million, an increase of $1 million from last season.

Year Possible salary cap
2023-24 $83.5 million
2024-25 $87.5 million-$88 million
2025-26 Approximately $92 million

According to this projection, the salary cap would begin to increase by more than $1 million per season beginning in 2024-25. This would be the first multimillion jump in the salary cap since 2019. Notable free agents for the 2024 offseason include Auston Matthews, Steven Stamkos, and Sebastian Aho.

By 2025, a projected salary cap of $92 million would represent a nearly $10-million raise over three seasons. The summer of 2025 is set up to be massive, with major stars including Victor Hedman, Leon Draisaitl, Mitch Marner, and Sidney Crosby up for new contracts.

This season represents the first increase to the salary cap since the 2019-20 campaign. Players were paid full salaries in the shortened 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, resulting in an imbalance in the revenue split between the players and owners. The league introduced a flat salary cap until hockey-related revenue surpassed $3.3 billion in the preceding season as well as a series of escrow clawbacks to even things out.

The salary cap previously rose every season from 2013-14 until 2019-20.

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