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Odds for Top Contenders to Win the 2015-16 NHL Scoring Title

Steve MacfarlaneFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2016

Odds for Top Contenders to Win the 2015-16 NHL Scoring Title

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    The NHL scoring race looks like it will have a landslide winner.

    As of Thursday morning, there was a 15-point gap between Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and his closest competitors. It sure looks like Kane is set to become the Art Ross Trophy winner for the first time in his career.

    But he was in a good position to win the race last season too before a collarbone injury ended his year early.

    The bottom line is anything can happen—and there are a handful of hopefuls playing well enough to make up some ground should Kane slow down or get hurt. The list includes Sidney Crosby, who has stormed back into the league's top six. If you ignore his early struggles and look at what he's done since Christmas, he's a legitimate challenger.

    Some talented names you won't see include Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers, who has had a nice season but is finding himself in the shadow of once-again-healthy super rookie Connor McDavid. You also won't find St. Louis Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko, who has gone ice cold in the past few weeks.

    As of now, only Kane projects over 100 points by extrapolating his numbers over the remaining games, but don't discount a fantastic finish by one of these talented contenders. On top of the prorated projections, you'll find my odds on who's going to take the 2015-16 NHL scoring title.

    Spoiler: It's top heavy and favors the polarizing Kane.

    Click ahead to see how they shake out, and leave your honorable mentions in the comments section.

Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    By the numbers: 56 games, 18 goals, 34 assists, 52 points

    Season synopsis: One of the reasons Patrick Kane is having a career year has been the addition of Artemi Panarin—another diminutive but dynamic playmaker—to the Chicago Blackhawks roster. He's the runaway favorite for the Calder Trophy after joining the Hawks from the KHL last summer and has shown no signs of slowing his pace. He has almost zero chance of beating his linemate, barring injury, but would he be as successful without Kane's presence?

    Prorated total: 76 points

    Odds: 100-1 (0.99 percent)

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    By the numbers: 51 games, 21 goals, 28 assists, 49 points

    Season synopsis: Johnny Gaudreau has been impressive for a terrible Calgary Flames group this season, flirting with a point-per-game pace all year. The small (5'9") but supremely skilled 22-year-old is 14 points ahead of his closest teammate, Sean Monahan, and is quickly establishing himself as one of the game's most exciting players to watch—not unlike Patrick Kane. Working against him is the likelihood of the Flames selling at the trade deadline and depleting the talent pool.

    Prorated total: 78 points

    Odds: 75-1 (1.32 percent)

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    By the numbers: 49 games, 17 goals, 32 assists, 49 points

    Season synopsis: Nicklas Backstrom started the season on the injured list. And when he came back, he found himself with unfamiliar linemates because Evgeny Kuznetsov did such a great job alongside Alexander Ovechkin in his absence. But the Washington Capitals' top center eventually regained his place between Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie and has been in the competition for a top-10 scoring spot despite the early adversity.

    Prorated total: 79 points

    Odds: 50-1 (1.96 percent)

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    By the numbers: 52 games, 25 goals, 27 assists, 52 points

    Season synopsis: One of the most underrated snipers in the game, Joe Pavelski is second only to Alex Ovechkin in goals scored (103 to Ovechkin's 135) over the past three seasons, according to QuantHockey.com. But the captain of the San Jose Sharks is this term on track to reach the 40-assist mark for the second time in his career. He has never finished with a point-per-game total, but the surprisingly strong Sharks are giving him the support he needs to do it this campaign.

    Prorated total: 82 points

    Odds: 45-1 (2.17 percent)

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    By the numbers: 52 games, 15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points

    Season synopsis: It's rare to have teammates who are not on the same line both among the league's top scorers, but in Washington, it's a reality this year with top centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom. Kuznetsov has been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL in his sophomore season after earning just 37 points in 80 games as a rookie.

    He started the year on Alex Ovechkin's line but hasn't lost a step playing alongside Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky most of the campaign.

    Prorated total: 85 points

    Odds: 40-1 (2.44 percent)

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    By the numbers: 55 games, 11 goals, 49 assists, 60 points

    Season synopsis: Erik Karlsson has hung around the NHL's list of top scorers this season despite the fact he is a defenseman. The Ottawa Senators man is looking to become just the second blueliner to win a scoring title, although some of the hotter forwards will likely make it more difficult for him to join Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr in the history books.

    Karlsson went through March and April last season with a point-per-game average of under one but will have to remain above that mark the rest of the way to make it happen.

    Prorated total: 89 points

    Odds: 20-1 (4.76 percent)

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    By the numbers: 54 games, 28 goals, 30 assists, 58 points

    Season synopsis: Tyler Seguin's numbers nearly identically match those of his talented linemate Jamie Benn, whom you will also see nearer to the top of this list. They are different in the way they play the game, with Seguin more of a visionary setup man and Benn more of a power forward. However, they each have 28 goals to rank among the top three sniping totals.

    Capitalizing on each other's nose for the net, they keep opponents guessing. If Patrick Kane stumbles for any reason, Seguin will be ready to pounce.

    Prorated total: 88 points

    Odds: 12-1 (7.69 percent)

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    By the numbers: 52 games, 24 goals, 29 assists, 53 points

    Season synopsis: Considering Sidney Crosby didn't even get an invite to the NHL's All-Star Game this year, it's incredible he's made his way onto this list. But since Christmas, he's been a much more consistent player—even more so since the All-Star break at the end of January. In the four games following that, he put up 12 points before being blanked for the first time since on Wednesday night.

    He's now up over a point-per-game pace and into the third tier of top scorers. But if he plays the way he has lately for any extended period, he could actually knock Patrick Kane from his perch.

    Prorated total: 83 points

    Odds: 10-1 (9.09 percent)

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    By the numbers: 54 games, 28 goals, 33 assists, 61 points

    Season synopsis: Jamie Benn's steady ascension among the elite has continued this year. Last year's Art Ross winner is on pace to improve upon that career-best tally of 87 points. He's in the hunt to win the Maurice Richard Trophy and second in the Art Ross race behind Patrick Kane—although the latter's 15-point lead is a huge cushion.

    Benn is part of the most balanced one-two punch in the league with center Tyler Seguin, and either one could claim the scoring title with a big run down the stretch. Benn won last year's title on the last game of the season.

    Prorated total: 93 points

    Odds: 8-1 (11.11 percent)

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    By the numbers: 57 games, 32 goals, 44 assists, 76 points

    Season synopsis: No one has come close to Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane's pace this season. He has a 1.33 point-per-game average and has not been held off the scoresheet for more than two straight games all year, which has only happened twice. He mixed in a 26-game point streak along the way, the longest by a Blackhawk and an American player and the longest in the NHL since Mats Sundin's 30-game mark in 1992-93.

    Barring an injury—superstitious Kane fans knock on wood here—Kane will become the first Blackhawks player to win the Art Ross Trophy in nearly 50 years, with Stan Mikita's last Art Ross triumph coming in 1967-68.

    Prorated total: 109 points

    Odds: 5-7 (58.33 percent)

     

    All stats via NHL.com unless otherwise noted.

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