By Chris Nosek
After taking a look at who could take home the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy just the other day, the Art Ross Trophy will go to the player who scores the most points with both goals AND assists considered. So taking into consideration assists as well, who will score the most this season?
Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Leon Draisaitl are the odds on favorites in Vegas for the Art Ross and for damn good reason too. In a season that McDavid wasn’t at full health, Draisaitl posted 110 points last season and McDavid had 100 and 108 points in the back-to-back seasons he won in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The only other winner over the past four seasons was Nikita Kucherov, but he’s out for the season. MacKinnon is now being considered by many to be the best player in the game and having posted 93 and 99 points over the past two seasons, it’s not out of the question to think he could make another step forward with his offensive game.
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When it comes to scoring, you will see Panarin’s name A LOT, and rightly so because he has posted 182 points over the past two seasons while only playing in 148 games – including 95 points over 69 games last year. With Chris Kreider on the first line next to Zibanejad, Panarin somehow finds himself on the teams 2nd line with Ryan Strome, this means he will likely see a lot of second defensive pairings. The Rangers also find themselves seeing teams with either below average or young and inexperienced goaltending or weaker defenses for most of their season. Will the Rangers make the playoffs? Well, they most certainly could – and if they do, Panarin will certainly play the biggest role in how they get there.
Stammer managed to post 66 points in 56 games last season before being taken out of commission to get surgery on a core body muscle. As he was recovering from this surgery, he managed to play in one game during the duration of the postseason and in under 3 minutes of ice time, he took one shot and scored,reminding the entire league of just how good he still is. Now back to full health, he finds himself playing the wing next to Brayden Point. Having spent most of his 13 year career playing the pivot position, he has still managed to keep his 837 career points almost split evenly between goals and assists – having posted 424 goals and 413 assists. While he should see an increase in goal production on the wing, his linemates of Point and Ondrej Palat are also very capable of scoring, allowing him to add more assists to his total.
Starting the year on Injured Reserve would knock just about anyone off the list for a scoring title. However, David Pastrnak has proven to not be “just anyone” when it comes to scoring. By posting 95 points in just 70 games last season and 81 points in just 66 games the season before, Pastrnak has proven that even missing a handful of games he will still be right up there with the best scorers in the league.
Hidden away on a middling Panther team, Huberdeau posted 78 points over just 69 games a season ago. Even though he is penciled in on the 2nd line (per dailyfaceoff.com), he will still see plenty of time on the powerplay with other great puck handlers such as Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, and Keith Yandle (for now). Being in the new Discover Central division, Huberdeau faces some teams with questionable, mediocre, or “just OK” goaltending for most of the season and guys like Ovechkin, Panarin, and McDavid will be facing the names you see floating around the Vezina voting more frequently (with Andrei Vasilevskiy being the lone exception). A strong scorer in a division is goaltending overall on the weaker end of the spectrum could add up to a surprise Art Ross Trophy winner.
With all eyes in Vegas on newly anointed captain Mark Stone, William Karlsson is sneakily proving to be someone the Blue Jackets (and Ducks) wish like hell they still had on their roster. With 182 points over his 230 games since joining the Golden Knights, Karlsson never really had to deal with missing too much time until some injuries hindered him towards the end of the regular season last year. With every team in the Honda West division having some kind of question regardless of who they put between the pipes – Vegas currently being the only exception to this – Karlsson will see plenty of opportunities to help his teammates score goals while still being able to put a few pucks in the net himself.
While the nickname of “The Perfection Line” is already taken by Boston’s top line, the Hurricanes put together a line that was closest to it last season with Aho centering Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen. Each forward posted over 60 points last season and helped power the Hurricanes through the qualifying round in the bubble playoffs. With veteran forward Nino Neiderreiter now in the mix and taking time on the top line, Aho will see plenty of time on the powerplay and will face teams such as Florida, Detroit, and Chicago, who likely won’t be praised for elite defense this season. While not the name many would expect, seeing Aho take home a scoring trophy wouldn’t really shock too many people in the hockey world.