Discussion

10 most important players for 2013

Updated: January 19, 2013, 2:18 AM ET
By Craig Custance

With their impressive track records of success, we already have a pretty good idea of who the most productive players of the 2013 NHL season will be. But you won't find Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos or Henrik Lundqvist on the list below. For the most part, their success is a given. What the fortunes of this season's teams will ride on is the contributions of key players carrying big loads or assuming new roles. These are the 10 most important players of 2013.

First, an explanation of who is not on this list. When compiling the 10 most important players to their teams during the shortened season, you could easily do 10 goalies. Or the 10 biggest stars. But this list won't have Crosby nor Lundqvist. They're important, but everybody already knows they're important. And for the most part, we know exactly what to expect from them if they're healthy.

These are the 10 guys who could help swing whether or not their team advances from good to great. Or from average to good. Or if they struggle, from a playoff team to one that falls short. These are the hinge guys, the 10 who could end up deciding which direction their team is headed this season:

1. Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota Wild -- The Wild love this guy. He's going to get the first crack at skating next to Ryan Suter, and it was entertaining watching him instruct Suter during their first couple practices together. He said there is still some work to do with terminology as Suter adapts from Nashville to Minnesota's system, but once they get that worked out that pair should be one of the better ones in the Western Conference. Spurgeon has the potential to be that good.

MORE NHL HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM