Chicago Blackhawks: Is Art Ross Trophy in Patrick Kane's Future?

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Chicago Blackhawks: Is Art Ross Trophy in Patrick Kane's Future?
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane has been a reliable point-producer in his first five seasons at the NHL level.

Coming into the 2013 season—his sixth with the Blackhawks—it was clear that Kane had something to prove.

Yes, the charismatic 24-year-old has put up an average of 70 points a season, but Kane is capable of so much more. In fact, it wasn't too far-fetched to say that Kane could one day reach the 100-point plateau.

That may be out of the question this year due to the NHL lockout, but Kane is poised to make the most of it.

Ranking second in the NHL with 19 points, Kane is on pace to crush his point production of the past five seasons. He also ranks second in goals scored with nine—six of those coming on the Blackhawks' six-game road trip.

Can anybody say Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophy?

That is the question: Can Patrick Kane continue his high point production and contend for the Rocket Richard and Art Ross Trophies?

We've seen this before, when Kane gets off to a hot start only to fall off midseason. His production starts to taper off only to come back towards the end of the season. 

But can he retain consistency and help the Blackhawks contend for the Stanley Cup?

Kane acknowledges that his goal is to finish in the top of the NHL scoring race while also helping his team into the playoffs (via the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc):

If anyone says it's not, they'd be lying to you. You always want to put up numbers and points. Especially in my kind of role; that's my job to make plays, score goals and get assists. You want to keep doing that to help your team win. There are still things I can do better personally. That's the exciting part for me and the team. I always try to keep improving.

Last season saw Kane's production dwindle due to his position change from right wing to center. While learning how to win faceoffs and play a more defensive role in his own zone, Kane failed to do what he does best: lead the Blackhawks offensively.

In fact, Kane put up only 66 points in 83 games—his worst offensive output with the Blackhawks.

It may explain why Kane was pumped to come into this season and why he expects so much from himself every game—all while remaining modest when finding success on the ice.

"Sometimes you get on a roll and it keeps going," Kane told Kuc. "It helps when you're playing with good players and you're getting good chances to score goals or make plays."

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This could also be a breakout year for Kane; the kind that elevates his game for years to come. 

If he can finish in the top three of the NHL scoring race, it may shoot enough confidence into his game to help him become an elite player for the Blackhawks.

Well, a more elite player for the Blackhawks, the kind that elevates his teammates' play as well as his own in order to win games. Kane could become a player like Jonathan Toews or Sidney Crosby—vital to the success of any team they play on.

But for now, figuring out how to stay on the board as this season progresses must be Kane's top priority.

Overcoming slumps will be key in not only his chances to win a scoring title, but also for the Blackhawks' chances to win a Cup.

 

Follow James Maahs on Twitter for all the latest on the NHL and Chicago Blackhawks.


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