Elite Players Not Necessarily From Elite Teams

Does a player need to be on a great team to put up great numbers, if the past few years are any proof, the answer is no.

We are over the halfway mark of the season and so far it looks as though the winner of the Art Ross Trophy will come from a team who currently sits outside the playoffs.

Voracek and Seguin Bright Parts of Poor Teams

Voracek leads the league with 58 points in 50 games. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Voracek leads the league with 58 points in 50 games. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek sits first in the NHL in scoring, a spot he has held down for the majority of the season. He has 17 goals and 58 points in 50 games and bearing a drop off in production and a surge from someone behind him, the trophy will be his for the taking.

If Voracek is surpassed by one of his peers, the next closest, and most likely to do so, would be Dallas Stars winger Tyler Seguin. The 22-year-old is one goal behind Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin with 28 goals and sits second in scoring with 53 points in 48 games. Also in the conversation is Voracek’s teammate and Flyers’ captain, Claude Giroux, who has 16 goals and 52 points in 49 games.

Both the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers sit outside of a playoff spot. The Stars play had been improving lately, but after dropping their last two games and five of their past 10 games, the team remains six points out of the final Wild Card spot in the West, with Colorado and Los Angeles between them and the final place Flames. Meanwhile Philadelphia has won their past two games, but still remains 10 points out from the final Wild Card spot in the East.

Martin St. Louis
Martin St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy in 2013 despite his team missing the playoffs. (Icon SMI)

This phenomenon is nothing new in the NHL. During the 2012-13 season Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos finished one and two in league scoring on a Tampa Bay Lightning team that finished 28th in the NHL standings. In fact Stamkos and St. Louis have done so on more than once occasion. Stamkos finished second in league scoring in 2012 and finished fifth in 2010 where St. Louis finished sixth.

During the 2010-11 season, Jarome Iginla finished sixth in scoring with 43 goals and 86 points in 82 points, despite Calgary finishing the season in 10th spot in the West. And during the 2010 season, just behind Stamkos and St. Louis in scoring, was Brad Richards who had 24 goals and 91 games for his 12th placed Dallas Stars.

This year just two of the league’s top six clubs have a player in the top-10 in scoring. Those players being Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Tyler Johnson of the Lightning. Although there has been a knack of players among the leaders in scoring coming from non-playoff teams, the fact is St. Louis’ Art Ross win is the only time since 2001-02 that a player on a non-playoff team has taken home the hardware. That was achieved by Iginla who finished with 52 goals and 96 points on an 11th place Flames squad.

Great goal scorers are usually on the best teams in the NHL, but don’t for a second think that just because a team is doing poorly that they don’t have players who can burn you.