John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Nine different players have won the NHL's scoring championship in the 12 past seasons and nobody has won back-to-back Art Ross Trophies in that time span. We're betting the trend continues in 2014-15 with another first-time winner.
In the 12 seasons since then, nine players have won it and nobody has taken home the Art Ross Trophy in successive seasons. We at thn.com predict that trend to continue. And if our crystal ball isn’t defective, there will be another first-time winner this season.
With that in mind, here are our top 10 choices for the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15, in descending order.
10. Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa: What’s that you say? A defenseman hasn’t finished in the top 10 in scoring in two decades? That’s true, but Karlsson has come very close, coming 11th in 2011-12 and 14th last season. Karlsson will continue to feast on power play and score a career high in points.
9. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh: Sid the Kid has a difficult time putting together back-to-back healthy seasons. That’s not to say he won’t accomplish the feat in 2014-15, but his approach to the game leaves him vulnerable to injuries. If he can remain healthy, he finishes in the top three guaranteed.
8. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas: Benn will continue his upward trajectory to becoming the league’s dominant power forward. With Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky anchoring the second unit, the power play will probably be better and Benn and Tyler Seguin may be able to get looks against lesser lines.
7. Taylor Hall, LW, Edmonton: Hall has averaged better than a point-per-game the past two seasons and there’s little reason to expect a dip in production in 2014-15. Hall turned down a chance to play in the World Championship last spring so he could maximize his workout time in the off-season and will benefit from finally playing for the same coach in successive seasons.
6. Alex Ovechkin, RW, Washington: Well this should confuse people for the first half of the season. It appears Ovechkin is moving back to right wing under new coach Barry Trotz. It shouldn’t matter. Ovechkin scores too many goals and is too involved in the Capitals offense to not get into the top 10 of the scoring race.
5. Claude Giroux, C, Philadelphia: An injury 15 minutes into his first training camp scrimmage was not an encouraging sign, but Giroux should be back in form in plenty of time for the regular season and if he can avoid an early drought, such as the one last season when he scored only two goals in his first 20 games, Giroux could conceivably win it all.
4. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim: Getzlaf put together a legitimate Hart Trophy-type season in 2013-14 and easily eclipsed his career high in goals with 31. He needs 92 points this season to hit the 700 mark for his career and the betting here is that he reaches the milestone before the end of the season.
3. Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas: Do you get the sense we’re just starting to scratch the surface with this guy? Of his 84 points last season, Seguin scored just 25 of them on the power play. With the addition of Spezza, the Stars have one of the league’s premier set-up men who will be looking for Seguin when the Stars have the man advantage.
2. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay: Stamkos finished last season on pace for an 89-point season, but was on pace for 118 points before he broke his leg in November. He has already pronounced the leg 100 percent recovered, which was not the case when he returned to the Lightning lineup last season.
1. John Tavares, C, NY Islanders: Had Tavares not been injured at the Olympics, he would have finished second in NHL scoring with 92 points. That’s still a long way from the 104 posted by Crosby, but a healthy Tavares is primed for his first 100-point season. With the Islanders acquiring more depth at forward over the summer, Tavares might not have to face the same checking he has as consistently as he has in the past.