The impending NHL lockout, slated to begin less than a week from today should the two sides not reach a miraculous last-minute agreement, has mostly dampened enthusiasm for every hockey fan's favorite September pastime of predicting the standings and projecting player performance to brace themselves for the coming year or just get a leg up on their Fantasy Hockey opponents. Player expectations generally present more interesting questions: is this the year that young player has a breakout season? Will that veteran scorer finally start to decline? Can that player who disappointed a season ago bounce back?

In the absence of a crystal ball, the default answers to these questions are usually positive, sometimes unrealistically so, as training camp breeds optimism in nearly every NHL fanbase. But what if we had a crystal ball? Hockey Prospectus writer Tom Awad's VUKOTA system is far from that but it can still provide some valuable insight into how players might perform in the coming year. VUKOTA uses traditional and non-traditional statistics to compare active players to those from NHL history in order to predict their output in the following season. After the jump, we'll take a look at what it projects for Sharks players in 2012-13 and try to gauge just how accurate VUKOTA's predictions are by comparing its 2011-12 Sharks projections with what actually transpired last year.

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