Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks is often thought of as the best active American-born player in the NHL. He further cemented this status at the end of the 2015-16 season when he became the first American-born player to take home the Art Ross Trophy. He also made history that season with his historic 26-game point streak, as well as taking home the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.
He’s had a very strong 2018-19 season, but does he have the chops to win another scoring title? And who is he up against this season?
What Kane’s Stats Say
As of Jan. 31, 2019, Kane has tallied a total of 29 goals and 42 assists, giving him 71 points. According to league stat-keeping, this puts him in fifth place overall in points.
Kane believes he can break his own record on a hot streak, as he told the Daily Herald before the start of the season, “Throughout seasons you always have some type of streak where you can get hot,” he said. “The thing is trying to keep that going as long as possible. In that (MVP) season, I had a 26-game (point) streak. I mean that’s something that can’t really be replicated unless you get really hot. Just take it a game at a time, try to produce every night and see what happens.” (from ‘Patrick Kane is off to his best start ever. He thinks he can reach “another level.”’- Daily Herald – 11/02/18).
Head coach Jeremy Colliton believes Kane can do even more, as he told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I think he’s got more to give, which is exciting. You see how many plays he makes out there, and he can make even more. His line can play with the puck more and be in the offensive zone and execute and be cleaner, so looking forward to that.” (from ‘Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton thinks red-hot Patrick Kane can do even more’ – Chicago Sun-Times – 12/31/18).
He has yet to add another lengthy point streak to his resume this season but has had several smaller point streaks scattered around. He tallied 106 points the last time he took home the Art Ross Trophy, only 35 points ahead of Kane’s current 71 points. With only 31 games left in the season, he should have no problem breaking his own record since he is averaging above a point per game.
That leads to the main question, can he beat his competitors in the race to a scoring title?
What About the Others?
Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning is currently in the lead for most points with 22 goals and 79 points. Like Kane, Kucherov is known for tallying big numbers, even reaching 100 points, a career-high, in the 2017-18 season. This season he is on track to break his personal record.
Kucherov is one of Kane’s biggest competitors when it comes to being a top scorer. Like most younger NHL players, he admires Kane, as he told the Tampa Bay Times, “Everything he does, it seems easy and smooth,” Kucherov said. “He’s an unbelievable player. Every time we play against him, I’m just watching him and have got the best seat in the arena.” (from ‘Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane’ – Tampa Bay Times – 11/27/17).
22-year-old Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche currently holds second place in the scoring race with 23 goals and 51 assists, a total of 74 points. He is set to beat his career-high of 84 points he tallied last season. With over 30 games left to go for the Avalanche, he can easily beat his record and possibly win a scoring title.
Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames lands in third place with 29 goals and 44 assists, giving him a total of 73 points. Like Rantanen, he’s set to beat his career-high of 84 points that he set last season. Gaudreau is often cited alongside Kane and Auston Matthews as some of the best American-born players in the NHL. He even beat Kane in the puck control contest at the 2019 All-Star Skills Competition.
Fourth place goes to Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers with 29 goals and 73 points. Like Kane, McDavid is no stranger to winning a scoring title. Since Kane won in the 2015-16 season, McDavid has taken the title twice. Often cited as the top player in the NHL, he’s a tough one to beat. With Kane only two points behind him, the possibility of him taking back his crown is alive and well.
All four players ahead of Kane have a similar style of play to him. They are all speedy and dominant forwards, and all are at least five years younger than Kane. The game of hockey is quickly becoming younger, and these four players are perfect examples of that trend.
At 30, Kane is having no trouble keeping up with the younger crowd. With half the season over and the numbers tight, the scoring title isn’t guaranteed to anyone. If Kane continues on his current path, he can easily take the scoring title. The challenge will be scoring more than all of the players ahead of him. With all five players on a hot streak, the scoring title will most likely go to whoever has the best scoring streak.