NHL: Art Ross Trophy Update

A TRUE CONTENDER: John Tavares was highlighted as a contender to take the Art Ross Trophy in the preseason and he has proved to be legit so far this season

BY JEFF ANGUS

I did an Art Ross preview before the start of the season and with roughly a quarter of the season in the books, I figured an follow up would be in order.

THE FAVOURITES
SIDNEY CROSBY
Pittsburgh Penguins to Win Stanley Cup +700
Sid the Kid has been very solid to start the 2013 regular season. He is fifth in scoring with 17 points, and he is also fifth in assists with 12. Expect him to remain in contention (I’d still consider him the frontrunner at this point in time).

EVGENI MALKIN
Pittsburgh Penguins to Win Eastern Conference +340
Malkin is tied for the NHL lead in assists with 13, and he has been very solid to start the 2013 season (like Crosby). Neither Pittsburgh superstar has gone on a hot streak yet, but they have been keeping pace with other NHL stars that have. Once they get going, the real scoring race will begin.

STEVEN STAMKOS
Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning (-150, 5.5)
Seven goals and 17 points in only 11 games – Stamkos has been sensational for Tampa Bay in the early going. He looks even bigger, faster, and stronger this season, and that isn’t good news for the rest of the NHL. He is living up to his preseason status as a favourite to win the Art Ross.

DO NOT FORGET ABOUT
ALEX OVECHKIN
Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers (-150, 5.5)
Please forget about Ovechkin (and the fact that I listed him in my original list…). Ovechkin has been a monumental disappointment this season. It may be a lack of effort, it may be the fact that he isn’t as fit as he used to be, or it may be the fact that he is unable (or unwilling) to adjust to so many coaching changes over the past year and a half in Washington, but Ovechkin’s days as a dominant NHL force look to be over.

THE CONTENDERS
JOHN TAVARES
NY Islanders to Win Atlantic Division +2500
13 points in 11 games is a solid start to the season for Tavares, and the arrival of Lubomir Visnovsky on Long Island should kick start the top power play unit a bit (which will mean a few more points for Tavares along the way). He’ll be in contention for many Art Ross trophies during his career, but 2013 may be a year or two early for the talented center.

CLAUDE GIROUX
Philadelphia Flyers at Winnipeg Jets (-150, 5.5)
Giroux has only seven points in 12 games to start the season, as the injury to Scott Hartnell forced the Flyers to come up with some new line combinations. Giroux hasn’t had a steady pair of wingers yet in 2013, and that lack of chemistry is a contributing factor behind his disappointing production.

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

17.71% EV 28 GIROUX,CLAUDE – 24 READ,MATT – 17 SIMMONDS,WAYNE
16.78% EV 48 BRIERE,DANIEL – 28 GIROUX,CLAUDE – 15 MCGINN,TYE
8.39% EV 28 GIROUX,CLAUDE – 19 HARTNELL,SCOTT – 10 SCHENN,BRAYDEN
6.78% EV 48 BRIERE,DANIEL – 28 GIROUX,CLAUDE – 17 SIMMONDS,WAYNE

As you can see above, Giroux’s wingers have been changed with great frequency by head coach Peter Laviolette.

DANIEL AND HENRIK SEDIN
Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks (-225, 5)
The Sedin twins had their best game of the season (by far) on Saturday against Calgary, but they are not Art Ross contenders at this point in their respective careers. They have played with Zack Kassian and Alex Burrows as their right wingers, and I’d expect Burrows to spend the bulk of the time in that position from here on out. Daniel and Henrik should finish close to the point-per-game mark, but I wouldn’t expect them to challenge the league leaders in scoring in 2013.

THE SLEEPERS
ERIC STAAL
Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils (-175, 5)
Carolina’s big gun has gotten off to a terrific start in 2013 with seven goals and 12 points in 10 games. Staal has found immediate chemistry with sniper Alex Semin on Carolina’s top scoring unit. The Hurricanes are not a team that struggles to put the puck in the net.

RYAN GETZLAF
Anaheim Ducks at Chicago Blackhawks (-175, 5.5)
After a disappointing 2011-12 campaign, Getzlaf wanted to get his career back on track in 2013 (especially as he approaches unrestricted free agency this summer). Through the first 11 games of the season, he has three goals (more than a quarter of the 11 he scored in all of 2011-12) and nine points. The real story in Anaheim has been the play of the ageless Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, though.

THE NEW CONTENDERS
THOMAS VANEK
Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators (-150, 5.5)
The top line in Buffalo (Cody Hodgson between Vanek and Jason Pominville) has been the lone bright spot for another disappointing season for the Sabres. Vanek put up five points against the Bruins a few weeks ago (his second five-point effort of the season), and he already has six multi-point games. He is a notoriously streaky point producer, but will his scoring even out in a 48 game season, or can he keep his hot streak going long enough to win the scoring title?

PATRICK KANE
Anaheim Ducks at Chicago Blackhawks (-175, 5.5)
Kane has been the best forward in the NHL season, and he has led the Blackhawks to a ridiculous 10-0-2 start. He is known for his ability to make opposing defensemen look foolish, and he is doing so game after game in 2013. He and Marian Hossa have been a nightmare to contain for opposing defenses. Don’t be surprised to see Kane keep going on his impressive scoring pace for the rest of the 2013 regular season.

HENRIK ZETTERBERG
Detroit Red Wings to Win the Stanley Cup +1900
Wayne Gretzky recently went on record to say that he believes Zetterberg is the greatest Swedish player who has ever played in the NHL. Now that is what you would call “high praise.”

Zetterberg has shaken his reputation as an injury-prone player in recent years, and as the new captain in Detroit, he is leading his team with 18 points in only 12 games. Zetterberg and Swiss rookie Damien Brunner have looked great together, building off of the chemistry they developed while playing together in Switzerland during the lockout.