It’s been a long time since the NHL has seen a back-to-back winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.
Since the 2000-01 season, when Jaromir Jagr won the award for the fourth consecutive time and the fifth time in seven seasons, no one has been a repeat winner of the award and just two players – Pittsburgh Penguin teammates Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – have won the award multiple times in that span.
Heading into the 2014-15 season and beyond, that may change.
Crosby won the award last season with 104 points in 80 games, good for 1.3 points per game. Consider that only Malkin (1.2ppg) was within 0.2 ppg of Crosby over the course of the season. That’s also a down year for Crosby as crazy as it sounds. He’s averaged 1.44 ppg over his five seasons prior to last year. Of course, he also only saw a combined 99 games from 2010-11 to 2012-13, but his scoring clip only got better in his limited time.
Also worth considering? No one last season even hit 90 points other than him. Ryan Getzlaf finished second in the league with 87 points, barely within shouting distance of Crosby. He’s capable of blowing his competition out of the water and now that he’s healthy, it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down.
At 27-years-old, Crosby still has at least six seasons before he starts to slow down. He’s averaged 1.39 ppg for his career to date and only seems to be picking up steam now that he’s over his scary concussion issues of yesteryear.
His linemates also have likely gotten better. Yes, he’ll probably be paired with Chris Kunitz because the two have a chemistry that doesn’t make sense on paper. He’ll likely add Patric Hornqvist, a consistent mid-20s goal scorer, or Steve Downie, a speedy winger with grit and offensive pop, to his wing. He, in turn, will make them better than they could ever be elsewhere and the Penguins will finally have two balanced lines.
Last, and certainly not least, there’s always this one tidbit to remember: the second-best scorer in the NHL on most nights also happens to be on his team. Malkin centers the other top line for the Pens and simply having him there to take on tough defensive match ups makes life easier on Crosby. He can’t be the focal point all the time because Malkin is there to punish teams that don’t take him seriously. If teams can’t focus on Crosby all the time, they can’t limit his effectiveness and he’s free to continue his reign of terror.
All the signs point to Sidney Crosby remaining on top as the NHL’s undisputed scoring king. In his prime, better wingers, renewed health and just being flat out better than everyone else add up to a run as scoring champ that the league hasn’t seen since…well, the last time the Penguins had the league’s top offensive dynamo.
Whether Crosby can get to four in a row or not is something we’ll just have to watch and wait for.
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