Another year passes in the National Hockey League, and another time to reflect is upon us. Names like Claude Giroux, Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos truly have risen to the forefront in terms of being dynamic offensive threats in the league.
While certain names have surprised and dazzled us this year, there are other veterans who you may be surprised to see on this list.
Given his excellent two-way play and valuable intangibles, it could be a little surprising to hear this one, but Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is amongst the top-10 scorers in the 2011 calendar year. In fact, Toews is currently tied with Stamkos for the goal-scoring lead, each having lit the lamp 20 times thus far.
As we prepare to say goodbye to 2011, let's take a look at the 10 players who probably wouldn't mind extending the year a little longer. The following numbers are as of the morning of December 22.
Kicking off the countdown is No. 19 of the Ottawa Senators, Jason Spezza. The Mississauga, Ontario native has consistently shown he has a knack for finding the scoresheet over the course of his career, with 532 points in 526 games regular season games.
The 28-year-old Spezza has had a lot to be thankful for in 2011, considering his second-half start last season continued right on into this season for the Sens.
Marian Hossa has perhaps quietly put together a very nice career so far. He may be most remembered for his determination to win a Stanley Cup, which saw him play for Pittsburgh and Detroit in back-to-back seasons back in 2008 and 2009, where both clubs would lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to each other. Finally, Hossa realized his dream in 2010, capturing the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Over the course of his career, and including this season so far, Hossa has amassed 415 goals and 887 points in 931 career games.
This season, along with Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Hossa is amongst the top 10 in league scoring with 38 points in 34 games, picking up right where he left off last season.
Calgary Flames star captain Jarome Iginla continues to enjoy offensive success, as he has his entire career. Including this season's numbers, Iggy has registered an astounding 1,032 points in 1,140 regular season contests.
Arguably the best Flames player of all-time, Iginla, now 34, is on the verge of yet another milestone: 500 goals. Currently sitting at 497, Iginla just might achieve this magnificent feat before 2011 ends. When he's been one of the best this calendar year, it just may become a reality.
Patrick Kane currently holds the 20th position in all NHL scoring, with 34 points in 35 games with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Even better, his 2011 has topped that of such players as Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin and teammate Marian Hossa. Kane is a legitimate scoring threat every time he steps onto the ice and was instrumental in getting the Hawks back on top.
With the way Patrick Sharp, Toews, Hossa and himself are playing, there's no doubt Kane and the Hawks will likely carry this success over with them into 2012.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel has been on a tear early in this 2011-12 season in case you've been living under a rock.
The 24-year-old Kessel is blossoming into a premier NHL scorer before our eyes. We caught a glimpse of that during his time in Boston, when he notched a 36-goal season before being shipped off to Toronto.
Last season, although a minus-20, Kessel posted a career-high 64 points and is on pace to set the bar even higher this season. Currently, "Phil the Thrill" is sitting nicely in third place in league scoring, with 39 points in 33 games, and making a great case for the Hart Trophy.
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks is tied with Phil Kessel, each with 80 points in 2011.
Toews is perhaps best known for his serious demeanor, leadership skills and two-way abilities. However, Toews has never failed to score at least 20 goals in each of his four seasons. Now in his fifth season, Toews has already hit 20 goals through 35 games and is on pace to register 46 goals, good for a career-high.
Perhaps the best story of 2011 is Teemu Selanne. The NHL's 22nd all-time leading scorer seems to be an ageless wonder.
Selanne, "The Finnish Flash," continues to dazzle in an Anaheim Ducks uniform at age 41. This season, his stellar play (35 points in 31 games) seem to be one of the few, if not the only, bright spot in the Ducks' season so far. Selanne is an excellent professional who never ceases to provide the offense for the Ducks.
Don't be surprised if Selanne passes legends Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri, Dale Hawerchuk, Doug Gilmour, Adam Oates and Bryan Trottier in career scoring by season's end to take over the 15th spot. He's on pace to finish with 86 points this season, which would pass Trottier by one.
Regardless of what happens there, at this rate, it seems Selanne will be playing until he's 48.
Thomas Vanek has been serving his homeland extremely well, proving to be a fine ambassador for the game. You may be surprised to see the 27-year-old Austria native on this list, but those who watch him play regularly will tell you that it's not surprising whatsoever.
A naturally gifted goal-scorer, in each of his seven seasons, Vanek has never failed to score at least 25 goals. This season should see him in the 30-40 range, too, as Vanek currently has 17 goals and 35 points in 33 games.
It wasn't until this past season that Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks fully emerged onto the NHL scene.
His record season last year saw him take home the Rocket Richard Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy, leading the league with 50 goals. The big reason he won the Hart was due to this second half last year. In fact, his play was unbelievably crucial in leading the Ducks to a playoff spot.
Although Anaheim is struggling to win games and score goals this season, Perry is fighting the adversity. Through 33 games, the 26-year-old has tallied 14 goals and 29 points.
When the Philadelphia Flyers traded away leading goal scorer Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards in the offseason, it was evident that somebody needed to step up.
Claude Giroux simply stepped up and said, "No problem."
Through 29 games this season, the 23-year-old Giroux is leading the league with 43 points, exerting his dominance over teams on a nightly basis. Veteran Jaromir Jagr and Giroux comprise one of the league's deadliest duos this season.
One half of the NHL's deadliest duo, Henrik Sedin shares the magical hockey sense with his brother, Daniel. Just when you think a play is dead, Henrik will turn nothing into a highlight-reel play, which is why they are constantly exciting to watch.
Currently, Henrik is second in points (40) only to Claude Giroux, and is leading the league in assists, with 31. That's no unfamiliar territory for the Swedish playmaker, either, as he has led the league in assists the last two seasons.
Here's your No. 1 scorer for the year of 2011: Daniel Sedin. It likely comes as no surprise, considering Sedin was the only player last year to crack 100 points, when he tallied 41 goals and 104 points, en route to an Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy nomination. Daniel also sported a plus-30 rating that season, good for third in the league.
On top of that, Sedin hasn't slowed down one bit, either. The 31-year-old Ornskoldsvik, Sweden native is tied for third in points, with 39, through 33 games.
So long as the magical twin wizards stay healthy, the Vancouver Canucks are always a tough team to play against defensively.
Tying for 11th place are both Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jason Pominville of the Buffalo Sabres.
It's no surprise that Stamkos is up there, given his recent 51-goal season, and another solid year last season in which the 21-year-old registered 45 goals and 91 points.
Like Thomas Vanek, it may be surprising to see Pominville on that list, but he has been a consistently strong offensive threat for the Sabres. He finished with a great second-half last season, one that saw him finish with 52 points in 73 games.
This season, Pominville is looking to compile an even better campaign, with 35 points in 33 games already for a struggling Buffalo squad.
Note: This list is likely to change very slightly with a few games left before New Year's Day, but now you can follow this yourself all the way to the end!
Thanks to @TSNResearch for the initial numbers from the beginning of the week.