NHL Players Most Likely to Break the 80-Point Mark in the 2014-15 NHL Season
Of last season's NHL scoring leaders, only seven reached or exceeded the 80-point plateau. That was the fewest to do so since 2003-04. This puts more focus upon those with the best shot of reaching that mark this season.
Many of the current top 30 scorers appear to have a good chance of reaching 80 points, but it's still only early in the season. Injuries, a player cooling off after a hot start, improvement in league defense over the course of the season or a decline in team performance can hamper offensive production.
The following is a listing of NHL players most likely to reach or exceed 80 points this season. Previous point totals, current rate of production, experience and player development factored into this compilation.
10. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
In only his third NHL season, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko is emerging as a lethal young scorer. He's also becoming an invaluable part of the Blues offense.
As an NHL sophomore last season, Tarasenko showed his promise with 43 points in 64 games. In 27 games, the 22-year-old currently leads the Blues with 17 goals and 29 points. He's also among the league leaders in those categories. At his current pace, Tarasenko could reach 50 goals and 90 points.
It remains to be seen if Tarasenko can maintain his current scoring groove. So far, he's shown no signs of slowing down, which bodes well for an 80-point campaign.
9. John Tavares, New York Islanders
With 66 points in 59 games heading into the 2014 Winter Olympic Break, New York Islanders captain John Tavares was jockeying for top spot in the NHL scoring race. A knee injury suffered during the Olympics, however, ended his season and his chance of winning the 2013-14 league scoring title.
Tavares is off to a slower start this season, with 24 points in 27 games. The 24-year-old has reached the 80-point mark before, with a career-best 81-point performance in 2011-12. During the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he collected 47 points in 48 games.
At his current rate of production, Tavares is within reach of the 80-point level. Given his previous numbers, it won't be surprising if he picks up the current pace and finishes with more than 80 points.
8. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks have overcome a slow start to this season, moving up the standings to within reach of top spot in the Western Conference. The play of right wing Patrick Kane is among the reasons behind their recent improvement.
With 26 points in 27 games, Kane leads the Blackhawks in points and also ranks among the league leaders. He is on pace to reach 80 points for the second time in his career, having reached a career-high 88 points in 2009-10.
Injuries derailed Kane's chances of reaching 80 points last season, as he collected 69 points in as many games. As he and linemates Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg continue to develop chemistry, the 26-year-old winger has the potential to reach 90 points.
7. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel has led the Toronto Maple Leafs in scoring every season since joining the club in September of 2009. Over the past two seasons, Kessel was also among the NHL's top 10 scorers. He's also reached the 80-point mark twice.
It comes as no surprise that Kessel is once again the Leafs' leading scorer and near the top 10 NHL scorers. In 26 games, he's tallied 27 points. That puts the 27-year-old right winger on pace for almost 85 points.
While the Maple Leafs need to improve their defensive numbers, their offensive stats remain among the league's best. They can thank Kessel for leading the way.
6. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
While it's been a miserable season thus far for the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, forwards Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux are among the few bright spots. Both are currently among the NHL's leading scorers.
It's not surprising to see Giroux among the top 10 scorers. He's twice exceeded the 80-point plateau in his career, most recently with an 86-point performance in 2013-14. This season, the 26-year-old Flyers captain collected 29 points in 26 games, putting him on pace to exceed 85 points.
Voracek's made steady improvement over the past two seasons and is on pace for a career-best performance. The 25-year-old right winger has 33 points in 26 games and is challenging for the league points lead. If he can avoid an offensive decline in the second half, Voracek could exceed 100 points.
5. Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Since 2007-08, Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have regularly finished among the Capitals' top scorers. This season is no different, as Backstrom leads the club with 25 points in 26 games, while Ovechkin was right behind with 21 points.
Backstrom has exceeded 80 points twice in his career and tallied 79 points in 82 games last season. At his current rate of production, the 27-year-old center is on pace to reach 80 points.
Ovechkin is a former Art Ross, Hart and Richard trophy winner. He's surpassed 80 points six times and collected 79 points last season. While Ovechkin's recent production is well down from his four 100-plus-point seasons earlier in his career, it would be foolish to discount his chances of reaching 80 points this season.
4. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Both have previously cracked the 80-point mark. Getzlaf's done it three times, most recently with an 82-point effort last season. Perry's done it twice, most memorably in 2010-11 when he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Richard Trophy as the leading goalscorer.
In 27 games this season, Getzlaf collected 26 points, while Perry has 22 points in 23 games. Given their previous history and current rate of production, don't be surprised if both wind up north of 80 points this season.
3. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Since being dealt from the Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars in July of 2013, Tyler Seguin has blossomed into a scoring star. Last season saw Seguin tally 84 points in 80 games, helping the Star reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The 22-year-old center has shown no signs of slowing down this season, with 35 points in 27 games. As of Dec. 6, he leads the league in goals and points. At his current rate of production, he could reach over 50 goals and 100 points.
Seguin is not only the Stars' leading scorer, he's also their most important offensive component. As long as he remains at the top of his game, they have a chance of reaching the playoffs.
2. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has shown no lingering effects from the broken leg which sidelined him most of last season. After 28 games, the 24-year-old center is among the league leaders in goals (16) and points (32). At his current rate of production, Stamkos could reach 50 goals and 100 points.
For Stamkos, this is familiar territory. He's a two-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the league's leading goalscorer. He's also exceeded the 80-point plateau on three previous occasions. Given that offensive pedigree, Stamkos is all but certain to exceed 80 points this season.
Stamkos' teammate Tyler Johnson is also currently on pace for an 80-point performance. While Johnson's having an impressive sophomore campaign, it remains to be seen if he can maintain that pace.
1. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Two of the greatest players in Penguins history, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the best players of their generation. They are each two-time winners of the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer and could be in contention for that award this season.
Crosby and Malkin have reached the 80-point mark several times in their careers, so it's unsurprising that they're on pace to reach that total this season. In 26 games, Crosby had 34 points while Malkin had 32.
This talented duo is not only among this season's top scorers, but their current numbers put them on pace to reach 100 points each at season's end. Barring injury, Crosby and Malkin are the most likely to break the 80-mark this season.