Last season, Daniel Sedin made NHL history in 2010-2011 by winning the Art Ross trophy as the NHL scoring leader.
The Art Ross had never before been won by siblings in consecutive years, let alone by identical twins. (Henrik Sedin of course won it in 2009-2010)
Can Daniel Sedin defend his Art Ross trophy?
The answer is yes.
Last year he won by relatively slim margins, putting up 104 points. His closest challengers were:
Martin St Louis of the Tampa Bay Lighting with 99 points.
Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks with 98 points.
Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks with 94 points.
Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning with 91 points.
Looking at these challengers, the field seems wide open for Daniel Sedin to repeat as scoring leader.
First, the Northwest Division is even weaker defensively (if that is possible) than it was last year, allowing Sedin to rack up points against non playoff teams.
His closest challengers from last year are all in much tougher divisions. Perry has to go up against improved Sharks and Kings teams within his division, while Stamkos and St Louis no longer have doormats in Atlanta (now Winnipeg) and Florida to run roughshod over.
Second, consistency only favours some of the competitors. Perry has yet to prove that he can perform at this high level consistently, and Stamkos was practically non-existent in the latter half of the regular season as he ran out of steam.
St Louis, along with Henrik and Daniel Sedin are all consistently putting up points at this rarefied level over the last few seasons, but there age could come into play.
Martin St Louis is 36, where as the Sedins just turned 31 during training camp. Physically, the twins are still in their prime, while St Louis is hitting the age where physical talents are usually on the decline.
Also of note, since they are always in the discussion, Alexander Ovechkin put up a paltry (by his standards) 85 points last season, while Sidney Crosby put up 66 points in only 41 games. Crosby was on pace to run away with the scoring title before his season was ended prematurely by concussions.
Ovechkin I don't think is a favoured contender for the scoring title. To win the scoring title, you need to play all 82 games. Missing even a few games is a huge disadvantage.
Ovechkin hasn't played a full schedule since 2007-2008, the year he won the Art Ross himself. Since then he has been limited to an average of 76 games due to injuries and suspensions.
Given the way he plays with reckless abandon and the new rules over head shots, Ovechkin has better odds of picking up a suspension (possibly lengthy as a repeat offender), than he does of playing the entire season.
Who will win the Art Ross in 2011-2012?
As for Sidney Crosby, as I write this the Penguins are three games into their season, and he still isn't cleared for physical contact.
Even if he was to magically play the remaining 79 games of the season, to expect him to miss over half a season and then just go right back to where he left off, scoring at the same elite level is simply absurd.
Now aside from the challengers from last year (Perry, St Louis, Stamkos) and the perennial challengers (Crosby, Ovechkin), there very well could be a dark horse candidate challenging from the scoring title.
But for every dark horse, there are compelling reasons why they aren't favoured in the first place.
Of course, every point in Daniel Sedin's favour that I just listed applies equally to his identical twin Henrik Sedin, especially since when one of them scores, the other inevitably has an assist.
If the scoring race comes down to duelling Sedins, as it almost did last season, I don't think Canucks fans will mind.