About one week ago, a fellow fantasy hockey writer and a great twitter follow Pete Jensen published the following tweet.
Pete received a mixed bag of responses ranging from excitable homers from around North America to a series of groans from twitter’s most sarcastic hockey followers. While tongue in cheek, Pete’s underlying question is an interesting one. Who will reach the 100 point plateau this year? Will anyone?
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100 Point Seasons by the Numbers
In the 7 full seasons since my second favorite NHL lockout in 2004-05, there have been twenty-five 100 point seasons. This gives us an average of around 3.6 100P scorers per season. These monstrous years are split between only 15 players. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are responsible for ELEVEN of them.
40% of these 100 point performances were reached by way of 50+ goals scored. Only Alexander Ovechkin reached the high water mark without recording 50 or more assists (65G, 47A, 2007-2008). The “Great 8” completed the feat in only 72 games in the 2009-10 season, signifying the fewest games played by any of our 15 participants.
These scoring dynamos played an average of 80.5 games per 100P season. If the average 100 point scorer plays ~80.5 games, he needs to score at a minimum clip of 1.242 points/game played or 1.219 points/team games based on the full 82 game schedule.
Let’s Meet Our Contestants!
At the time of Pete Jensen’s tweet, 8 players were on pace to score 1.219 points per team games played. Ten days later, 7 players are still on pace for 100 points, yet the list looks a little different.
Hey guys that’s me! Excuse the time stamp on that tweet, fantasy hockey keeps me up at night from time to time. Never mind that. Let’s round up on the average of 3.6 and say 4 players will reach 100 points this season. Out of the 12 players mentioned, which 4 make the cut?
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Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
What more can you say about Sid the Kid’s young season? He is the NHL’s leading scorer with 23 points in Pittsburgh’s 16 games. He has points on 8 of the Penguins’ 12 power play goals. Watch Crosby battle and earn the secondary assist on Evgeni Malkin’s only power play goal (and point) this season.
You read that correctly. Evgeni Malkin, bonafide power forward and power play threat only has one point on the man advantage. Once Geno gets going, how many more assists will come from Crosby’s tape? The Penguins currently sit 10th in the league with a 21% PP conversion rate.
Barring an injury, Crosby breaks the 100 point ceiling this year with ease. Even if he picks up a knock here or there, his current scoring output will leave him at 100 points in only 70 games played.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
95, 91, 97. Steven Stamkos has broken 90 points in each of his last 3 full seasons but has yet to hit 100. This will be his year. In the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Stamkos racked up 57 points in 48 games, scoring at a 97 point pace for an 82 game season. Without his tail spin of only 8 points in his final 10 games (sarcasm font), Stammer could have been on track.
Not many NHL pundits gave the Lightning a chance to compete this year. Luckily for them, the Eastern Conference and specifically the Metropolitan division have gotten off to an abysmal start. The combination of playing in an embarrassing division and Ben Bishop’s magnificent form have spelled success in Tampa.
So long as the ageless wonder Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos make ridiculous plays like this, Stamkos finds himself among NHL royalty in the 100 point club.
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Players like Henrik Sedin make living on the east coast tough. On many occasions I’ve had no choice but to stay up way past my bed time to watch the Western Conference powerhouses battle for points. The Canucks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, good enough for only 4th place. Their recent success has had much to do with Henrik’s hot streak.
Hank, (can I call you Hank?), Sedin is your NHL leader in assists with 17 to go along with 3 goals. Henrik may be slightly off the 100 point pace, but he will eventually get there. He is shooting the puck about 1.8 times per game, the most frequently he has done so since his 94 and 112 point seasons of 2010-11 and 2009-10, respectively.
While his shooting rate is up, his shooting percentage is under 10% for the first time since 2006-07. Once some of the blazing hot goaltenders out west begin to cool down, expect Sedin’s shooting percentage to trend back toward his career average of 13%. In the mean time, Henrik will continue to pile up the apples on his way to 100 points.
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Batting clean up in our 4 man list is none other than Ovi. Love him or hate him, Alex Ovechkin is one of the most talented scorers on planet earth. Similar to Henrik Sedin, Ovechkin is fractions away from 100 point pace. An upper body injury kept him out of 2 of Washington’s 15 games this year, but Ovi has still managed to rack up 18 points.
Had he been healthy enough to play, there is no question that Ovechkin would be on a similar pace with Crosby and Stamkos. The Great 8 has yet to play fewer than 72 games in a full season. To show everyone in the DC-MD-VA area that he was healthy again, he potted two power play goals plus an assist in his return to the lineup.
Along with his longevity, Ovechkin will be a night in and night out scorer this year due to Washington’s prolific power play. Once again, the Capitals are perched at the top of power-play scoring. Nicklas Backstrom’s vision and slick hands have been as potent as Ovechkin’s one-timer with the man advantage this season. It was no surprise that Backstrom assisted on both of Ovi’s PPG two nights ago.
Ovechkin may score 25 goals on the power play alone on the road to 100 points. Oh hey want to watch all 65 of Ovi’s goals from 2007-8? Cool, me too.
Out of the remaining pack, there are a few players who may not reach 100 points but will continue to dazzle throughout the season. Both Martin St. Louis and Nicklas Backstrom are playing with white hot scorers at the moment. Expect the two of them to continue to take advantage of playing along side instant-offense and superb finishers. While neither of them eclipse 100, they make a legitimate run.
Kyle Okposo is in a similar situation. He is the third most dangerous forward on his line. Now Kyle don’t get upset with me. Since Thomas Vanek joined him and John Tavares on the Islanders top line, Okposo has exploded. He will reap the benefits of this line configuration for 82 games, but he lacks the raw talent to reach the elusive 100 mark.
Phil Kessel and Matt Duchene will likely see production dwindle as they do not have the same top flight talent surrounding them. Neither Duchene nor Kessel has a top 40 scorer on their squad. While they both have been revelations for their streaky squads, I don’t see either of them continuing the one man scoring show.
Flashes in the Pan
It was fun while it lasted boys. These players may have been integral in your fantasy team’s early season success. While they may last on NHL.com’s first page in scoring stats, they won’t be within an arms reach of 100 points. David Backes, Alexander Steen and Frans Nielsen are all shooting over 23% on the season. Numbers like this are not sustainable.
Steen only has 5 assists. Unless he plans on scoring 75 goals that won’t be good enough. Backes has faded considerably in only a week’s time. Nielsen has 3 points in his last 5 games. These three will all end up around 60 points, which for all intents and purposes is a successful season. However, we are speculating about record book seasons, not record book months.