The race among NHL forwards for the Maurice "the Rocket" Richard Trophy and the Art Ross is usually down to just a few elite snipers by the three-quarter mark of the season. Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Martin St. Louis—whichever five or six players are competing in the goal and point sprints have put a lot of separation between themselves and the pack by then.
For instance, 2011-12 scoring champ Evgeni Malkin posted 109 points to win the Art Ross. Sitting in fifth that year was Ilya Kovalchuk. His points total? 83.
That's a pretty large gap between No. 1 and No. 5.
The competition to be the NHL's top-scoring defensemen, on the other hand, is a ridiculously tight affair on a yearly basis. Except for when a player like Erik Karlsson or Mike Green posts gaudy, forward-like numbers of course.
There was no runaway defensive scoring king in 2013. P.K. Subban put up 38 points and was the No. 1 scoring defender. Kris Letang tied that total, and only three other defenders broke the 30-point barrier.
After that, seven points separated the sixth-placed Niklas Kronwall and the 30th-placed John Carlson.
All of this illustrates just how small the gap between a top-five and a 30th-place defender is. As tough as it can be to guess who will win the defensive scoring race (and usually, the Norris Trophy because of it) we've put together our best wagers as to which blueliners will do the most damage in 2013-14.