2017/18 NHL Art Ross Trophy Futures: Top Points Bets
Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
During his first season and a half in the NHL, he’s produced at a hall-of-fame pace, notching 148 points in 127 games – good for a 1.17 a point-per-game rate. There’s little doubt that he’ll continue to maintain this lofty standard with the Oilers, earning a minimum of 90 points if he plays 75 games during the 2017-18 season.
Projections show that he’ll finish between 95-105 points, which should be enough to earn his second consecutive Art Ross trophy in his third NHL campaign. If Connor follows up his MVP season with a similar campaign, the rest of the league will find it tough to keep up.
Crosby, Kane and Kucherov are the only three players who appear capable of reaching 95 points in a single season, while Jamie Benn could reach the 90-point mark. None of them have the same ceiling as McDavid, which is why Connor’s the overwhelming favorite to lead the NHL in points.
Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
Tough to say what Sidney’s stats would look like if he played during the firewagon hockey era of the 1980s and early 90s - before the New Jersey Devils discovered that you could win a Stanley Cup with a great goalie and a suffocating left wing lock. He’s the last player to score 120 points in the NHL, completely wrecking the league during his sophomore season in 2006-07.
After the work stoppage and concussions ruined three of his prime seasons, Sidney’s bounced back health-wise, appearing in at least 75 games for four years straight. Any healthy campaign gives Crosby a chance to secure another Art Ross.
The only trend which reduces Sid’s chances would be his increased goal scoring. He’s netted 35 goals three times in the past four years, including a league-leading 44 last year. This implies that he’s setting up his teammates less often. Sid doesn’t care, because he just wants to win more cups for Pittsburgh – another strike against his Art Ross odds.
Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
Kucherov experienced a 19-point jump last season, becoming the most prolific scoring threat on the Lightning’s deep roster of forwards. He managed to create new career highs in almost every offensive category, except power play assists. Instead, his power play goal production jumped from 9 to 17 goals, leading the NHL in that category.
Nikita scored 85 points to finish in the top five, despite missing eight games and Steven Stamkos for much of the year. If he played all 82 games, he could have challenged the 95-point mark, good enough for second place in the Art Ross race.
Stamkos returns to the Tampa Bay lineup fully healed from another unfortunate injury, ready to reignite the chemistry previously displayed with Kucherov. If Steven manages to play close to a full season, Nikita could breach the 90-point mark and challenge McDavid for the point-scoring crown.
Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane was white-hot during the 2015-16 season, earning his first Hart and Art Ross trophy with an insane, 106-point campaign. The runner up was Jaime Benn with 17 fewer points, underlining the scoring dominance Patrick displayed that year. Kane enjoyed career highs in goals, assists and powerplay goals.
Similar to Crosby, Patrick’s developed a nose for the net over the past couple of years, notching 80 goals over the past two seasons to add to his prodigious assist output. This helped to lift him to the upper echelon of NHL producers.
Kane finished tied for second along with Crosby last year, putting up 89 points during the 2016-17 campaign. He’ll miss Artemi Panarin, but that won’t stop Patrick from another excellent year. His projected linemates, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Sharp, won’t be a huge downgrade, and the powerplay will remain strong, giving Kane plenty of chances to create joy for Chicago fans.
Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars
Benn won an Art Ross in 2014-15, finishing atop NHL scoring with 87 points. The year afterwards, he finished second to Patrick Kane with 89 points, earning enough recognition to finish third in MVP voting for 2015-16. Last year was a complete disaster for the Dallas Stars, dragging Jamie down along with the rest of the crew.
The Stars responded by reloading in the offseason. Dallas signed Alexander Radulov away from the self-destructing Montreal Canadiens for nothing, added Marc Methot from the Ottawa Senators via an expansion draft trade, and signed Ben Bishop to solidify the goaltending.
Benn already has an elite linemate in Tyler Seguin, and adding Radulov will open more offensive opportunities. Methot and Bishop are welcome additions who will allow Jamie to focus a bit more of scoring. Benn isn’t the favorite for another Art Ross, but he’s a great dark horse candidate to finish on top of the league for point production.
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