As the NHL regular season approaches an end, there is a prestigious trophy still completely up for grabs. The Art Ross trophy. It is awarded to the NHL player who scores the most points in the regular season. It is a trophy that cements a player as one of the best in the business, and reserved for only the truly elite.
As it stands today, with approximately 6-7 games remaining, the top 4 scorers are only separated by 7 points between them. Third year phenom Connor McDavid leads the pack with 99 points on the season. If he were to hold this lead, he would be one of very few players to win the Art Ross trophy in back to back seasons – and the crazy thing is he hasn’t even entered his prime yet. Move over Sid, we have a new generational player ready to take the league by storm! Nobody has been able to handle the speed of McDavid since he entered the league. The amount of goals he has scored by simply blowing past the other team is staggering. He’s a human highlight reel.
In second and third place we have rising star Nikita Kucherov with 95 points, and the veteran Evgeni Malkin with 92. Both are benefiting from offense heavy teams in Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. They have a shot of catching up, but they are running out of games to do it. Having said that, both players teams have arguably the best power plays in the league, and all it takes is a hot streak to make up some ground.
Tied for third place with Malkin, we have Nathan MacKinnon. He is my wild card here. I think if anyone has a shot of catching McDavid, it’s him. He has been absolutely lights out this season for the Avalanche, and has carried them to a possible playoff series. Although MacKinnon is 7 points off the lead, he has managed to do this only playing 67 games due to injury, which is 9 games less then McDavid. He is a bull on the ice, and can score at will. If he keeps up his pace, it’s going to go to the wire.
No disrespect to Kucherov and Malkin, but I find what McDavid and MacKinnon have done to be more impressive for one simple reason. They are fighting for the Art Ross despite their teammates, rather than because of them. Kucherov has Stamkos and Hedman, and Malkin has Crosby and Kessel. Who do MacKinnon and McDavid have? The next highest scoring player on Colorado is Mikko Rantanen. For the Oilers, it’s Leon Draisaitl (who is over 30 points behind McDavid!). Oh what could have been with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. And just to hammer my point home, the Lightning as a team have scored 50 more goals than the Oilers. Put any other player in McDavid’s shoes and I’d be hard pressed to see them break 70 points let alone 100.
Here are my season end predictions for the top 10 players:
1. Connor McDavid 108 points
2. Nathan MacKinnon 105 points
3. Nikita Kucherov 102 points
4. Evgeni Malkin 99 points
5. Steven Stamkos 97 points
6. Claude Giroux 97 points
7. Anze Kopitar 95 points
8. Sidney Crosby 92 points
9. Blake Wheeler 91 points
10. Phil Kessel 91 points
It’s strange to see Crosby at 8 and Ovechkin and Kane not even listed. Three players that have been cemented in the top 10 for years, no chance of winning. But as the saying goes, “out with the old, and in with the new”.