Monday, August 17, 2015

The Top Seven Art Ross Trophy Contenders, Ranked

Credit: Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports
AUTHOR’S NOTE: You may notice a slight change in content from here on out. I’ve recently acquired a Partnership from HFBoards. What does this allow me to do? Well, I can display my content to all users on the forum. This includes fans of other teams.

Yes. I still hate the Oilers. But you may see the odd post here discussing that team. It’ll still be 85% Flames content. But this post today kick-starts the rush of NHL content, too.

(And yes, Logical Expectations is still going. It’ll be back tomorrow.)

Sidney Crosby used to be the indisputable face of the NHL, a consistent Art Ross frontrunner, if not winner, and everybody’s favourite whipping-boy. While he still holds two of those titles - although perhaps not for long on the whole ‘face of the NHL’ front - Crosby no longer stands alone at the top of the pack in the scoring race.

Here are the biggest threats to capture the Art Ross trophy come next April.

All HERO charts in this article come from ownthepuck.blogspot.ca.

Credit: Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports

Tyler Seguin

Everybody’s favourite ESPN Body Issue model had a career year last year, finishing seventh in scoring with 77 points - in 71 games. That’s an 89-point pace extrapolated through 82 games. And what’s to say Seguin can’t reach those heights? 

Injuries. Seguin missed three weeks in February and March after being sidelined with a lower-body injury after a nasty Dmitry Kulikov hit.

However, aside from that setback, Seguin has never missed any major time in his NHL career. He should be right back to lighting up oppositions next season.

2014-15 Stats: 71 GP, 37 G, 40 A, 77 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 81 GP, 39 G, 41 A, 80 PTS.


Credit: Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports

Jakub Voracek

Voracek had a stellar season in 2014-15, finishing fifth in League scoring with, in 82 games, 81 points. Of those 81 points, 59 were assists, good enough to rank second in the entire NHL. However, half (11) of his goals last season came with the man advantage - a career high. Despite this, however, his possession numbers reek of superstardom - his HERO (Horizontal Evaluative Rankings Optic) chart places him well above first-line status in all three Corsi metrics. He didn’t get lucky scoring many of his goals on the power play. Expect big things out of this big Czech 26-year-old next season - and he’s barely in his prime. 

2014-15 Stats: 82 GP, 22 G, 59 A, 81 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 82 GP, 20 G, 62 A, 82 PTS.


Credit: Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports

Alex Ovechkin

You already know the deal. The best pure sniper in the entire league, Ovechkin will dazzle, be physical, and consistently score 50 goals a year (while likely scoring under 35 assists) all while making defensemen look silly.

Don’t expect that to change this year. He’ll let Nicklas Backstrom handle the playmaking on his line - no one can score like Alexander the Great.

2014-15 Stats: 81 GP, 53 G, 28 A, 81 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 82 GP, 52 G, 31 A, 83 PTS.


Credit: Jasen Vinlove - USA Today Sports

Vladimir Tarasenko

Tarasenko stole the show in St. Louis this year, leading the team in scoring with 73 points in 77 games and, in the process, establishing himself as a superstar. The only one of this list not to be ranked in the top 7 in scoring last year, Tarasenko will be expected to carry the load in St. Louis from this point on. Fresh off of signing a gargantuan 8-year, $60 million contract - the richest in Blues history - Tarasenko will be eager to lead the club past the second round for the first time in fifteen years. With stellar metrics all across the board and a sure increase in ice time from his 17:37 last year coming, expect a banner year out of the extremely talented 23-year-old.

2014-15 Stats: 77 GP, 37 G, 36 A, 73 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 79 GP, 41 G, 43 A, 84 PTS.


Credit: Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports

Jamie Benn 

Last year’s Art Ross winner will enjoy another elite season, albeit not quite to the degree of which he enjoyed his last. Buoyed by the best shooting-percentage of his career, Benn will falter slightly in the upcoming season, although his regression may be offset by a full season of Tyler Sequin and a new toy in Patrick Sharp. Focusing more on the positives, Benn is a rare power forward with slick hands and a good, frequent shot, who can score both on the power play and shorthanded. Just watch out for some mediocre possession numbers

2014-15 Stats: 82 GP, 35 G, 52 A, 87 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 80 GP, 32 G, 54 A, 86 PTS.


Credit: Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports

John Tavares

The first-overall pick in the 2009 Draft has lived up to expectations thus far in his career, finishing second in the scoring race last year after a late surge by the aforementioned Jamie Benn. He’s a great scorer with a very good shot, and is also a skilled playmaker - ask any Islanders fan about what they think of Kyle Okposo, and they’ll credit many of his accomplishments to Tavares.

On the flip side of the coin, Tavares isn’t great defensively - his Corsi Against/60 is lacking. However, every other part of his HERO chart is firmly in first-line territory - he’s no slouch when it comes to getting shots on the net. 

2014-15 Stats: 82 GP, 38 G, 48 A, 86 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 82 GP, 41 G, 50 A, 91 PTS.


Credit: Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Sidney Crosby

There were two factors that led to Sidney Crosby losing out on the Art Ross last year: first, he finished the season with the second-lowest shooting percentage of his entire career; and second, he missed five games. The two men ahead of him both played 82 games. He played 77. Had he played those five extra games, while scoring at his pace for the season, he would have finished with 89 points. That’s two more than Jamie Benn’s league-leading total.

Oh, and now he’s got Phil Kessel on his wing. 

Crosby’s got this one in the bag. He finally has an elite winger, and his shooting percentage should go back to his usual totals. Expect another dominant season from the 2005 first-overall pick - of course, unless…
Gah!
2014-15 Stats: 77 GP, 28 G, 56 A, 84 PTS.
Projected 2015-16 Stats: 82 GP, 37 G, 60 A, 97 PTS.


Other Players Who Merited Consideration: Connor McDavid, EDM; Ryan Getzlaf, ANA; Nicklas Backstrom, WSH; Evgeni Malkin, PIT; Corey Perry, ANA; Steven Stamkos, TB; Claude Giroux, PHI; Patrick Kane, CHI*

*I am not providing a stance on Kane’s situation. I wasn’t going to mention him here at all, but I figure that if he ends up playing, he’ll be up there. 

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