Alex Ovechkin and The 10 NHL Players Most Likely To Top 50 Goals
The 50 goal mark is one of the most important single season milestones that one can achieve. It may seem common, but it is actually one of the rarer feats seen in the NHL. Since the 2006-2007 season, the 50 goal marker has only been topped 9 times by just 7 different skaters (Alex Ovechkin has done it three times in that span.)
Last season saw three skaters hit 50 goals: Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay, with Crosby and Stamkos both doing it for their first time. With that, let's take a look at the 10 players likely to reach the 50 goal plateau:
#10.) Marian Gaborik
Marian Gaborik has always been a solid goal scorer (see: 2007 5 goal game against the Rangers) but he has been constantly bitten by the injury bug, most severely during the 2008-2009 season when hip surgery limited him to just 17 games.
After signing with the Rangers after that season, Gaborik quickly got back to his high scoring ways, tallying 42 goals in 76 games last season. If he can get some help from newly acquired Alexander Frolov and Ruslan Fedotenko, than 50 goals should certainly be on Gaborik's mind.
#9.) John Tavares
Surprised? Don't be. John Tavares has been a prolific goal scorer at every level he has played at so far, and after a year of adjusting in the NHL, he should be ready to explode in 2010-2011. Yes, I know the former #1 overall pick had just 24 goals in his rookie season, so 50 seems way out of his reach, but it would not be unprecedented if Tavares did reach this milestone.
Just look to last season where Steven Stamkos finished with 51 goals, just a year after a rookie season where he scored just 23 times. I know Stamkos had a better supporting cast, but he shows that it can be done, and Tavares certainly has the skill to ring up 50 goals.
#8.) Ilya Kovalchuk
The $100 million dollar man, Kovy is an elite goal scorer, having already topped 50 goals twice in his career. Based on skill alone Kovalchuk should be higher on this list, but after such a huge payday, some question whether or not his drive will diminish.
This along with the fact that New Jersey is never the most high scoring team, and usually relies more on solid defense and a certain future HOF goalie to win games, so 50 may not be in Kovalchuk's future this season. However, he has scored 40+ goals for 6 straight seasons, so you should never count him out.
#7.) Devin Setoguchi
Another surprise here, but if you look into it, its not that shocking. Setoguchi may have only scored 51 goals total in the last 2 seasons, but 50 is certainly possible in 2010-1011. It always is when you're on a line with Joe Thornton. Thornton's laser passes and incredible awareness make everyone he plays with a 50 goal threat. Just look at Jonathan Cheechoo.
In 2006-2007 Cheechoo led the NHL with 56 goals, while Thornton led the league with 114 points, 92 of those points were assists. After they were split up, Thornton has continued to flourish, while Cheechoo scored just 5 goals in 61 games for Ottawa last season and was sent down to the AHL. If Thornton can make Cheechoo a 50 goal scorer, he can certainly make Devin Setoguchi one too.
Side Note- Setoguchi could get bumped off this line and replaced by Joe Pavelski, who can also become a dangerous scorer
#6.) Rick Nash
Despite playing 7, count 'em, 7 full season in the NHL, Rick Nash is just 26 years old, and he, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, need him to step up big this year. With a young team around him, the #1 overall pick in the 2002 draft should be the offensive focal point, with Derek Brassard, Jakub Voracek, and Nikita Filatov helping him along the way. Nash scored 40 goals two years ago when the Blue Jackets made their first playoff appearance. He'll need to score 50, and he has the skill to do it, if he wants to get back there in 2011.
#5.) Evgeni Malkin
Geno, the 2009 Art Ross and Conn Smythe winner has produced goal 4 goal filled seasons so far for the Pens. He had a down season last year, but he always has the capability for 50 goals, and now that Jordan Staal will be moved onto the second line along side of Malkin, he is finally surrounded with a talented winger (yes, Stall is a center, but he is expected to move outside) who he can feed off of en route to a very memorable season
#4.) Dany Heatley
Here is another San Jose Shark who is poised for a 50 goal campaign, except Dany Heatley doesn't need to rely on his line mates to make him a 50 goal scorer like Setoguchi, he can do it all on his own. Gifted with great size and quick hands, he can always catch a goalie out of position for a goal.
Heatley posted back-to-back 50 goal seasons for Ottawa in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. He scored 39 times in each of the last two seasons, but look for a rejuvenated Heatley to help lead the Sharks on a deep playoff run.
#3.) Sidney Crosby
With all the skating ability and stick handling that Crosby has, not to mention his laser shot and pin-point accuracy, Crosby has all the tools to put up 50 goals year in and year out. However he hasn't. That is not to say that he can't but he is usually more of a pass-first type of player. This is why he didn't reach 50 goals until last season when he put up 51, good for a tie for 1st in the NHL. Depending on his line mates and what he wants to do, Crosby could either put up 50-60 goals this year if he wants to shoot, or 30-40 if he wants to pass, just like he has for every other year he's been in the NHL.
#2.) Steven Stamkos
After his shaky first season, many prematurely began to call Steven Stamkos a bust. He proved them all wrong in style by scoring 51 goals in his sophomore season as just a 20 year old. Stamkos has all the talent, speed, amazing accuracy, powerful shot, and the pure drive to score 50+ for many years to come. He has a good supporting cast who will feed him the puck and he will be the focal point on offense for the Lightning. Stamkos may be the best young goal scorer in the NHL, well except for one guy. . .
#1.) Alex Ovechkin
I mean come on, if anybody is going to score 50 this season, it has to be Alex the Great. In his five NHL seasons he has scored 52, 46, 65, 56, and 50 goals. He is all but guaranteed to do it again as he is playing on arguably his best team so far and with a playmaker like Nick Backstrom on his line feeding him the puck, 50 should be no problem for OV this year. He could make this season very special for Washington fans.