Five New Players and One Veteran in His New Uniform Take Their Bows
Friday, June 23, 2006

Our NHL 13 lineup raised eyebrows and generated applause when it was announced a few months back. Five of the players in NHL 13 are making their Sports Picks debuts, while the lone "Sports Picks veteran" is showing off his new team's jersey and celebrating the rejuvenation of his already-impressive career. It's easy to get excited about NHL 13's numbers: five new players, two standout rookies, and one missing tooth.

DANY HEATLEY: Ottawa's new left wing turned in a career year in his first season in Canada's capital. The NHL's rule changes and Ottawa's wide-open style gave Heatley the freedom to play his game, and no one is arguing with the results. Heatley led the Senators in scoring and was one of only three players to score 50 or more goals in the 2005-06 season. Just imagine what he could do with a full set of teeth...

ALEXANDER OVECHKIN: The rookie hype leading into the season was all about Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, but Alexander Ovechkin stole half the spotlight by season's end. With 52 goals and 54 assists, Ovechkin became only the second rookie in NHL history (alongside Teemu Selanne) to score 50 goals and tally 100 points in his rookie season. The Russian superstar's 106 points are the second best in team history, begging the question -- "What's he going to do for an encore?"

BRYAN McCABE: Toronto's high-octane defenseman proved that the best defense is a good offense, scoring 19 goals while dishing out 49 assists in 2005-06. McCabe's offensive output ranked him third in scoring among defensemen, and helped him pair with Tomas Kaberle as the highest-scoring defensive teammates in the NHL.

HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Jaromir Jagr's return to form helped push the Rangers into the playoffs for the first time since 1996-97, but the stalwart play of rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist was just as important. Lundqvist helped lead Sweden to Olympic Gold midway through the NHL season, but a hip injury sat him down for most of the stretch run. Lundqvist turned in an impressive 30-12-9 record, playing in only 53 games. He finished the season ranked fifth in goals-against-average (2.24) and fourth in save percentage (.922).

ALEX TANGUAY: Alex Tanguay's final season in Colorado was one to be remembered, he set a career high with 29 goals and finished second on the team in scoring with 78 points, one shy of his career best. His outstanding performance helped bump Dallas in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. He entered restricted free agency in the summer, and was immediately acquired by the Calgary Flames. Tanguay heads north looking to bring some punch to the Calgary offense.

JOE THORNTON 2: The first significant trade of this NHL season also ended up being the MOST significant. San Jose sent three players to Boston in exchange for Joe Thornton. The trade sparked Thornton, and his arrival lifted the cellar-dwelling Sharks into the NHL playoffs and all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Thornton led the NHL in scoring with 125 points.

NHL 13 is scheduled to hit stores in early October 2006.