Last season I wrote a few columns breaking down each of the Western Conference team's top-six and bottom-six, so I'll go back to the well once again and give you better insight into this season.
As Russ Miller said in his article last week, at the end of the day what it all boils down to is opportunity. A top-line player will receive every possible chance to succeed, while a top-six player will receive decent even strength/second unit power-play ice-time for production. A bottom feeder will most likely receive checking line time and definitely won't receive ample optimal scoring time. Their big break will only come if there are injuries or sudden collapses of young players from their team's top-six. We all like to be optimistic with our projections, but there really isn't a point in projection 80 points for a player who won't even crack a team's top-line let alone top-six. If you haven't read my projections article, definitely go and take a gander. I know I had an eye-opening experience when digging up all the stats. Note: Take the line combos with a grain of salt. They are just arbitrary and are used primarily to separate a team's top-six from the bottom-six. I really don't want to get into arguments about player X had chemistry with player Y, therefore they'll be on a line together during the season.
If you've followed my columns during the last couple of seasons, you'll realize that I'm heavy into my stats. Yes, Shoeless I can bend the stats to say whatever I want, but at the end of the day it still paints a general picture of what goes on in the real world. So I'll start off with a few more stats that I dug up from last season, but first, I have a few questions that I would like you to ponder. Without looking at the table below, I want you to think of and write down a number that you think an average team's leading scorer would tally in a season. Now I want you to think about and write down a number that you think a third-leading scorer would tally and finally I want you to ponder and write a number that the sixth-leading scorer would average. Now compare those numbers to the numbers in the table below.