While you might think predicting every NHL team's leading scorer is an easy task, that is not always the case. Only thirteen players who led their team in scoring during the 2014-15 season, repeated in 2015-16. That number should go even lower this season for a couple of different reasons. First, this past off-season we saw a great deal of star players surprisingly switch teams. Secondly, there were a few older players who led their team in scoring during the 2015-16 season, but are in midst of decline. There is bound to be a bunch of younger new faces, who will lead their respective teams in 2016-17.
While scoring goals and racking up points may not be everything, it certainly plays a huge role in whether not a team is successful or not in the standings. When you look at the players who were ranked in the top ten in points in the league during 2015-16, only two of the players played on a non-playoff team. When it comes to teams whose leading scorer is ranked in the bottom ten among all NHL team's leading scorers, only two out of the eight teams made the playoffs. While it proves it's not impossible for a team that scores by committee to make the playoffs, it's not the most reliable system. It also wouldn't hurt to point out that the Toronto Maple Leafs had lowest leading point scorer last season at just 45 points, and they ended up finishing dead last in the standings.
Here are the thirty NHL players who have a great chance of leading their team's in scoring for the 2016-17 season.
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30 Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf
The Anaheim Ducks ability to produce offense has gone down considerably in the past couple of years. They led the league in goals during both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. In 2014-15 they ranked 11th in the league, last season they dropped all the way to 17th. The main reason they ranked so low was that their two main stars in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry both had off years. This was especially true for Getzlaf early on in the season. He had just one assist through the first eight games of the season. The Ducks struggled too, with just one win in those eight games.
Getzlaf and the Ducks were able to turn things around and salvage the season. Getzlaf finished the season leading the Ducks with 63 points. Although that's a decent amount, it was still he lowest point total in a full season since 2011-12. Expect Getzlaf to get back to his usual point per game pace next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Corey Perry
29 Arizona Coyotes: Max Domi
For the past four seasons, the Coyotes leading scorer has been a defenseman. Last season they were led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who had a career high 55 points. While Ekman-Larsson may set another career high next season, the Coyotes have a depth of young forwards who are ready to take over the scoring lead for the team.
The Coyotes have not had a real dominate scorer since the days of Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick, but that is going to change in the next few seasons. One player in particular who is ready to breakout, is the highly skilled Max Domi. Last season Domi finished third in NHL rookie scoring with 52 points. The Coyotes are starting to build a talented group of young forwards, that will only help a fantastic playmaker like Max Domi improve his offensive production. With a season of NHL experience under his belt, Domi should hit the 60 point plateau next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
28 Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak
After many years of being one of top teams in the league, the Boston Bruins are now in a bit of a rebuild. It has now been two straight years without a playoff appearance. Their core has remained relatively the same since they won the Stanley Cup back in 2011, except they are much older. Last season they were led by Patrice Bergeron, who had one of the best seasons of his career, scoring 32 goals and 68 points. Bergeron is over the age of thirty now, and probably has only have few more seasons like that left in him. A couple of the other top scorers on the Bruins last season were David Krejci and Brad Marchand, but they can't be relied on to lead the team. Krejci is a very talented player, but he has had some recent injury issues. Marchand scored an incredible 37 goals last season, his previous career high was 28. Marchand is already twenty-eight years old, so it' s most likely that last season goal total was just a one time thing.
Although the Bruins have a solid group of veteran scorers, they are going to need to rely on their younger talent if they want to get out of this current rut they are in. This is where the young David Pastrnak comes into play. Pastrnak has already been a dominate player at the junior and AHL level. Last season was supposed to be his breakout year, but he was hampered by injuries. This past off-season Patrnak put on some muscle in order to handle the rigours of a full NHL season. He is ready to handle a permanent top six role on the Bruins. If he's able to stay healthy, he can be a 30 goal, 60-plus point player as early as next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: David Krejci
27 Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel
For the remainder Jack Eichel's NHL career, he may not have as much pressure on him to perform as he did last season. Along with fellow 2015 draftee Conor McDavid, Eichel is considered to be a generational talent. Although Eichel was just a teenager last season, Sabres fan's, along with the entire hockey world, had their eyes on him all season watching his every move. Eichel did not disappoint while playing under the pressure. He led the Sabres in goals with 24 and was second in points with 56.
After years of being one the bottom feeders in the league, the Sabres are definitely on the upswing. Promising young players like Sam Reinhart and Alexander Nylander are going elevate Eichel's offensive production. Eichel has all the talent to be one of the leagues elite offensive players. There is no reason why he can't be a top ten scorer in the league, starting next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Ryan O'Reilly
26 Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau has only been in the league for two seasons, but has already established himself as one of the best offensive players in the NHL. After a dominating college career with Boston College, the diminutive forward had his first full season with Calgary Flames in 2014-15. He had a tremendous first year with the Flames, finishing tied for first in NHL rookie scoring with 64 points. If anyone thought his rookie season was a fluke, that type of thinking was squashed in his sophomore season when he finished tied for sixth in the league in scoring with 78 points. The Flames haven't had a player score that many points since Jarome Iginla scored 86 during the 2010-11 season.
The problem with Gaudreau being so successful early on in his career, is that he has set the bar so high for himself. He might be able to improve on last season's total a bit, but don't expect him to be a 100 point scorer. However, there definitely nothing wrong with being a perennial eighty point scorer.
Runner-Up Candidate: Sean Monahan
25 Carolina Hurricanes: Jeff Skinner
It's no secret that the Carolina Hurricanes have trouble putting the puck in the back of the net. The have ranked near the bottom of the league in goals during the past few seasons. The Hurricanes don't have any players who you would consider a dangerous offensive threat. However, that doesn't mean they don't have some solid offensive players. Last season Jeff Skinner led the team with a decent 51 points. However, there was only two other NHL teams where their leading scorer had less points.
The Hurricanes do have some talented offensive forwards coming up in their system. Their 2015 second round draft Sebastian Aho, led his Finnish team in scoring last year as an eighteen-year-old, and he should make his NHL debut this upcoming season. Although it looks like one day he could be the Hurricanes top scorer, don't expect that for at least a couple seasons. Unfortunately for Hurricanes fans, you can probably expect another season of being led by the good but not great scorer Jeff Skinner.
Runner-Up Candidate: Victor Rask
24 Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane
In 2015-16, Patrick Kane had one heck of a season, by far the most productive of his career. Kane led the NHL with a career high 106 points. That was 18 points more than his previous career high he set back in the 2009-10 season. Kane is one of the best scorers in the league, but last season's total is going to be a tough total to beat. Last season he averaged 1.29 points per game, while he averaged 0.97 points per game prior to 2015-16. Look for Kane to go back down to his usual point per game pace next season.
Not only will Patrick Kane lead the Blackhawks in points next season, there is no imminent threat of any other player taking over his reign. Although Jonathan Toews is one of the top players in the league, he is not one the top scorers. Artemi Panarin, who was second on the Blackhawks with 77 points, relied too much on Kane last season to ever be a threat to Kane's crown. It's clear that Kane was worthy of winning the Hart Trophy last season as Chicago would be a completely different team without him.
Runner-Up Candidate: Artemi Panarin
23 Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene
More often than not in recent years, the Colorado Avalanche have been in the bottom half of the league standings. In return they have been able gather a bunch highly touted players throughout the years. These players include the likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon. All three of these players were former top three draft selections, who had fantastic junior careers. The problem is that these players have not quite lived up to there true potential. Duchene has had some good years, but for every good year, he's had a down year. Landeskog has become a great leader on the team, but seems to have plateaued as a 50 to 60 point player. MacKinnon was an elite player in junior, but hasn't been anywhere near elite offensively in the NHL, averaging .70 points per game so far in his career.
While there is still a ton of time for a player like Nathan MacKinnon to become an elite scorer in the NHL, right now Matt Duchene is there most dangerous offensive player. Duchene was more of a playmaker earlier on in his NHL career, but he has recently become more of a goal scorer. He scored a career high 30 goals last season, but saw his assists totals drop. The Colorado Avalanche points crown is Duchene's to lose.
Runner-Up Candidate: Nathan MacKinnon
22 Columbus Blue Jackets: Alexander Wennberg
There was a time when it looked like the Columbus Blue Jackets had found their perennial point leader in the former first round draft pick Ryan Johansen. After a slow start to his NHL career, Johansen scored a combined 160 points in his last two and a half seasons in Columbus, no other player on the Blue Jackets scored more over that time frame. Johansen's reign as Columbus' leading scorer was ended after he was traded to the Nashville Predators midway through the 2015-16 season. This left an opening for another player on the Blue Jackets to take over the scoring lead. Last season Brandon Saad and Cam Atkinson shared the team lead with 53 points. Both players had career years, which they will look to improve upon next season.
The one player who is going to give them a run for their money in 2016-17, is Alexander Wennberg. The twenty-one year-old Wennberg had a breakout season in 2015-16, recording 40 points in 69 games. He will most likely center the Blue Jackets top line next season, so expect a healthy increase in points for the talented man from Sweden.
Runner-Up Candidate: Brandon Saad
21 Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn
As a former fifth round draft pick of Dallas Stars back in 2007, Jamie Benn is quickly making a case for himself as one the best draft steals of all time. Benn was a productive NHLer right from the get go, scoring 22 goals as a rookie in 2009-10. As the years have gone by, Benn has only got better as a player.
In 2013-14, Benn was joined in Dallas by fellow offensive force Tyler Seguin. This took Benn's game to a whole other level. The 2013-14 season was breakout year for Benn, as he finished ninth in league scoring with 79 points. He followed up that season by leading the league in 2014-15 with 87 points. Benn has showed no signs of slowing down, scoring an incredible 89 points in 2015-16. There is no reason why Benn won't continue to be one of Dallas and the NHL' top scorers next year and beyond.
Runner-Up Candidate: Tyler Seguin
20 Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Larkin
The fact that Dylan Larkin made the Detroit Red Wings as a nineteen-year-old was impressive in itself, never mind the fact that he was one of their top scorers. Larkin finished third on the team in scoring with 45 points. He was the Red Wings lone representative at the 2016 NHL All-Star game in Nashville. With Henrik Zetterberg slowing down with age and Pavel Datsyuk off to the KHL next season, there is going to be even more pressure on Larkin to carry the team's offense in 2016-17. It's going to be a tough task for Larkin, as the Red Wings aren't exactly loaded with other young up-and-coming talent. Larkin should see some improvement point wise next season, but it will take a few more years before he really hits his stride. The speedy forward could still hit the 60 point plateau as early as next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Gustav Nyquist
19 Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
There hasn't been this much hype surrounding a player like Connor McDavid, since Sidney Crosby first entered the league in 2005. McDavid was a considered a generational talent heading into the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The Edmonton Oilers had the pleasure of taking McDavid with the very first pick. Heading into the 2015-16 season, McDavid by far had the most pressure on his shoulders compared to any other NHL player, and for the most part, he delivered the goods. He ended up missing almost half the year due to an early season shoulder injury, but when he did play, he showed he was the real deal. He ended up recording 48 points in just 45 games. Despite playing only half the season, he was named one of the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.
If McDavid can stay healthy in the 2016-17 season, he is a very good candidate to lead the Oilers and the league in points. Doug Weight was the last Edmonton Oiler to hit the 100 point plateau back in 1995-96, Connor McDavid should be the next to do so, and it might even come in just his second season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Jordan Eberle
18 Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov
The Florida Panthers are a team with a very bright future. They are full of young promising players, which makes it strange that the oldest player in NHL led the team in points last season. The forty-four-year-old Jaromir Jagr continued to defy father time in 2015-16 by putting up an incredible 66 points. It wouldn't be fair for the Panthers to expect Jagr to put up another season like he did in 2016-17, so they are going to need their young guys to step it up. One of 2015-16 season's biggest breakout players was the Panthers Alexander Barkov. In 2014-15, the Finnish native recorded 36 points, last season he scored 59 in just 66 games. After a fairly pedestrian start to his NHL career, Barkov is starting to show why he was chosen second overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. If Barkov can maintain the point per game pace he had last season through 82 games, has the potential to be a top ten scorer in the NHL as early as next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Jonathan Huberdeau
17 Los Angeles Kings: Anze Kopitar
As good as the Los Angeles Kings have been, winning Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014, they are not loaded with elite scorers. The Kings have a lot of great offensive talent like Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, but they only have one top notch NHL scorer in Anze Kopitar. He's been the Kings best offensive player ever since he made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 season. Kopitar now has ten NHL seasons under his belt, and he has led the Kings in scoring for the past nine seasons. Kopitar's has had many quality seasons, included five seasons where he recorded at least seventy points. His most productive season came in 2009-10, when he set career highs for goals (34) and points (81). Kopitar is still just twenty-eight-years-old and he has shown no signs of slowing down. He had another very productive season in 2015-16, amassing 74 points. With the pedigree that Kopitar has, and fact that Los Angeles doesn't have another scorer the level of Kopitar, expect him to lead the Kings in scoring for a tenth year in a row.
Runner-Up Candidate: Tyler Toffoli
16 Minnesota Wild: Zach Parise
The Minnesota Wild have always been a defense-first team. Since the Wild first entered the NHL in the 2000-01 season, they've really only had one offensive star player in Marian Gaborik. When healthy, Gaborik was one of the NHL's best goal scorers, having three 40-plus goal seasons in his career. He left the Wild in 2009 and the Wild have yet to find a adequate replacement for him.
Last season the Wild were led in points by a thirty-three-year-old Mikko Koivu, who recorded 56 points. While that's not a horrible point total, it's safe to say the Wild would like see their leading scorer put up some more points. Next season's there are a few different players who could take over the scoring lead for the Wild, most notably the highly paid Zach Parise. He is coming off his worst offensive season since his rookie year with the New Jersey Devils in 2005-06. Parise has shown he has the ability to put up a ton points, scoring a career high 94 in 2008-09. While it wouldn't be realistic for the Wild to expect Parise to put up those kind of numbers, 70-plus points should be attainable for him in 2016-17.
Runner-Up Candidate: Charlie Coyle
15 Montreal Canadiens: Alexander Radulov
Last season was evident that the Montreal Canadiens are not the same team without their superstar goalie Carey Price. However, this doesn't mean they don't have some talented offensive players. Max Pacioretty might just be the most underrated goal scorers in the league. In the last three seasons he has combined to score an impressive 106 goals. Alex Galchenyuk is also starting to establish himself as an offensive force, hitting the 30 goal plateau for the first time in his career in 2015-16.
Even though the Canadiens aren't exactly lacking in the scoring department, it couldn't hurt to add more, so that is why they decided to take a flyer In Alexander Radulov. A former first round draft pick of the Nashville Predators back in 2004, Radulov has spent the past four seasons playing in the KHL. He has been one of the top scorers in the league, averaging well over a point per game during his time in the KHL. At thirty-years-old, this is most likely Radulov's last chance at sticking in the NHL, and it's either boom or bust for him. During his last brief run in the NHL, he lacked the maturity to be a consistent NHL player. If Radulov can be more committed this time around, he easily has all the skills necessary to be an fantastic scorer in the NHL. A 60 to 70 points season in 2016-17, isn't out of the question for the talented Russian.
Runner-Up Candidate: Max Pacioretty
14 Nashville Predators: Filip Forsberg
During the 2012-13 NHL season, the Washington Capitals were desperately looking for a player who could help the team get over the top and win the Stanley Cup. The player that they thought was the final piece of the puzzle, was longtime Nashville Predator Martin Erat. In return, the Predators received promising prospect Filip Forsberg, who was taken 11th overall by the Capitals less than a year earlier. Martin Erat was a complete failure during his brief run with Washington, while Filip Forsberg has become Nashville's most dangerous offensive weapon. During his first full season with Nashville in 2014-15, Forsberg was among the top rookies in the NHL. He finished third in rookie scoring with 63 points. In 2015-16, Forsberg had another great year, scoring 33 goals and 64 points.
The Nashville Predators have just recently added some talented offensive players in Ryan Johansen and P.K. Subban, so Forsberg will have some competition. Fillip Forsberg should be able to keep his spot next season, and he maybe even be a 40 goal man in 2016-17.
Runner-Up Candidate: Ryan Johansen
13 New Jersey Devils: Taylor Hall
No other team in the NHL has had more trouble scoring goals in recent years than the New Jersey Devils. Since the 2012-13 season, the Devils have ranked in the bottom five of the league in goals for. Last season was especially bad as they finished dead last in the league, scoring just 182 goals. Last season the team was led in points by Kyle Palmieri, who had a career high 57 points. That's not a terrible total, especially considering Palmieri's previous career high was just 31 points.
During this past off-season the Devils made a huge move in upgrading their offense by acquiring Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers. Hall immediately became by far New Jersey's most dangerous offensive weapon. Although Hall scored a career high 80 points in 2013-14, that was on offensively talented Oilers team. The Devils do not have anywhere near the talent the Oilers have, so Hall's point totals will suffer. He can still be a 60 to 70 point guy next season, but when the Devils surround him with better talent, Hall's point total's will surely improve.
Runner-Up Candidate: Kyle Palmieri
12 New York Islanders: John Tavares
The New York Islanders have a place among the most successful NHL teams in history, having won four Stanley Cups. However, their last Stanley Cup win took place over thirty years ago in 1983. After becoming a rare dynasty team in the NHL, the Islanders spent years as the laughing stock in the league. In recent years they have started to get back their reputation as being one of the leagues best teams. A huge reason why they were able to get out of the leagues basement is because of 2009 first overall pick John Tavares.
Since his rookie season in 2009-10, Tavares has the led the Islanders in all but one of his seven NHL seasons. At the age of twenty-five, he has become one of the premier scorers in the NHL. In 2014-15, he finished second in the league with a career high 86 points. Last season Tavares saw a bit of a decline with 70 points, but the Islanders as a whole seen a drop in offensive production. It's a safe bet to expect Tavares to have a bounce back year, as he is a legitimate contender to lead the league in points every season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Andrew Ladd
11 New York Rangers: J.T. Miller
The New York Rangers have a very talented team. The problem is that a great deal of them are getting up there in age. In fact, the New York Rangers were the oldest team in the NHL during this past season. There is a good chance the best years for players like Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist are gone. The team is going to need to start looking to develop their younger prospects. If not the team will quickly find themselves in the league's basement. The Rangers don't have a whole lot of promising prospects coming up, but the players they do have like Pavel Buchnevich, are still at least a few years away from making a significant impact.
Last season the Rangers were led in scoring by Mats Zuccarello, who at twenty-eight-years-old, had a career year with 61 points. Besides Zuccarello, only one other player made significant strides last season, that being J.T. Miller. Prior to last season, Miller spent the past three seasons splitting time with the Rangers and their AHL affiliate. In the 114 games he managed to get in with New York, Miller recorded just 33 points. In 2015-16, Miller played all 82 games for the Rangers and scored 22 goals and 43 points. Which made this more impressive, is the fact that Miller put up those points playing just 15 minutes a game. If Miller can earn more ice time in 2016-17, he realistically could put up 30 goals, and lead the the team with 60-plus points.
Runner-Up Candidate: Mats Zuccarello
10 Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson
No team in the NHL relies on offense from their back end quite like the Ottawa Senators. There is one defenseman in particular that would cause Ottawa's offense to dry up if they lost him, and that man is Erik Karlsson. Not only is Karlsson by far the best offensive defenseman on the Senators, he the best in the entire league. He has been the leader in points among defenseman four times in his career, including the past three straight seasons. At the age of twenty-six, Karlsson is already a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the leagues best defenseman. He still has a ton of hockey left in him, and it wouldn't be too surprising if he added at least of couple more those trophies to his resume before his career is done.
The Ottawa Senators do have some talented players coming up in their system, but it is going to be a long time before anyone can unseat Karlsson as the top offensive dog in Ottawa. You can almost guarantee that in 2016-17, Karlsson will lead the Senators in points for the fourth straight season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Mark Stone
9 Philadelphia Flyers: Brayden Schenn
The Philadelphia Flyers have been fortunate for the past two decades to have some great offensive star power. In 1990s they had Eric Lindros and John LeClair, in the 2000s they had Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and they currently have Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Both Giroux and Voracek have had a couple elite scoring seasons with the Flyers. Giroux scored 93 points during the 2011-12 season, while Voracek put 81 points in 2014-15. While both players are still productive NHL players, it might not be the wisest decision for Philadelphia to rely on them long term. Giroux has seen his point totals drop year after year, and at twenty-eight-years-old, that trend will most likely continue. Voracek may have been able reach the 80 point mark a couple of seasons ago, but he has proven to more of a 50 point player.
While Giroux and Voracek may have plateaued, the Flyers have a couple of players who will continue to trend upwards in 2016-17. First you have Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored a remarkable 46 points in 64 games as a rookie defenseman. Secondly you have Brayden Schenn, who scored a career high 59 points in 2015-16, including 37 points in his final 38 games. While both should have career years in 2016-17, the money is on Schenn as a forward to lead the Flyers in scoring next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Claude Giroux
8 Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby got off to a horrible start in the 2015-16 season. In the first month of the season, Crosby only managed to record four assists in eleven games. There was talk around the league that Crosby at the age of twenty-eight, was in a decline. However, by the end of the season Crosby proved all those so called experts wrong. He finished the season ranked third in the league with 85 points. Crosby stepped up his game in the playoffs to help the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup, winning the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in the process.
Although Crosby is no longer the runaway favourite to lead the league in points every season, it wouldn't best the idea to bet against him. During the past three seasons, no other player in the NHL has had more points than Sidney Crosby. When it comes to leading the Penguins in scoring, Crosby has led the team eight out of the his 11 NHL seasons. Pittsburgh has a ton of offensive talent, but are either too injury prone or inconsistent to beat Crosby. He will once again be a favourite in 2016-17 to not only lead the Penguins, but the entire NHL in scoring.
Runner-Up Candidate: Evgeni Malkin
7 St.Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko
For the past decade plus, it seems the Blues have done everything but win a Stanley Cup. While some of their core group of players are definitely getting up there in age like Alexander Steen and the now former Blues player David Backes, St.Louis has managed to stay a contender with excellent drafting. In recent years the Blues have drafted talented players like Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri, but there is one player in particular who stands out.
In the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Blues selected Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. After he was drafted, Tarasenko spent time developing in the KHL. His first two seasons in the NHL weren't overly special, but you could tell the kid was going to be one heck of a NHL player. Tarasenko had breakout year in 2014-15, as he was tied for fifth in the league with 37 goals. This past season he had an even more productive year, scoring a career high 40 goals and 74 points. Tarasenko is now one the most feared snipers in the league, and should be St.Louis' top scorer for years to come.
Runner-Up Candidate: Alexander Steen
6 San Jose Sharks: Joe Pavelski
It seems like the San Jose Sharks have had the same core group of players for what seems like forever. That may be true, but most of these core group of players are still producing at a high level. Last season the Sharks were able make their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history, thanks in part to a thirty-seven-year-old Joe Thornton. Not only did Thornton have a remarkable post season performance, he had a fantastic regular season for the Sharks. Thornton led the team with 82 points, his most since he recorded 89 points during the 2009-10 season.
Another player who had a fantastic season in 2015-16, was another long time San Jose Shark in Joe Pavelski. His 38 goals was good enough to rank fifth in the league, and his 78 points was just one point shy of tying his career high. At thirty-two-years-old, Pavelski is no spring chicken, but his odds of going into a decline are a great deal less than Joe Thornton. Pavelski should have at least a few more seasons of productive hockey left in him. It wouldn't be a surprise if in 2016-17 , he led the Sharks in scoring for the third time of his career.
Runner-Up Candidate: Joe Thornton
5 Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos just finished up his eighth NHL season, and over that time period, only one other player has scored more goals than him. Stamkos started his NHL career under the tutelage of offensive superstars like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. It wasn't too long before he was an offensive juggernaut himself. After a decent rookie season in 2008-09, Stamkos took his game to an elite level. In just his second season, he led the Lighting with 95 points, and he led the entire league with 51 goals.
Now at twenty-six, Stamkos continues to be an offensive leader for Tampa Bay. However, this past season will probably be one that Stamkos would like to forget. He scored just 64 points, his lowest point total in a full season since his rookie year. Stamkos wasn't even able to help his team in the playoffs as he was out with blood clot issues. The main reason why Stamkos had an off year in 2015-16, might have been the fact that he was about to become a unrestricted free agent at season's end. It's hard to believe that with all the media attention on him, that it didn't affect him at least a little bit. Stamkos was eventually able to agree to a long term contract with the Lightning, and with his mind now more clear, next season should be a comeback year for one of the elite scorers in the league.
Runner-Up Candidate: Nikita Kucherov
4 Toronto Maple Leafs: James van Riemsdyk
Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs were led in points by Nazem Kadri, who scored a paltry 45 points. Not only was that the lowest points total by a NHL team's leading scorer in 2015-16, it was the lowest points total for a Leafs leading scorer since George Armstrong recorded 44 points way back in 1956-57. Fortunately for the Leafs, it looks like they won't have to deal with those offensive woes much longer. Toronto has gathered one of the most promising prospect pools in the entire NHL. By finding themselves near the bottom of the league in the past few seasons, the Leafs were able to acquire talented players like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and the most recent number one NHL draft pick, Auston Matthews.
While the Leafs are going to rely heavily on their young up-and-coming players next season, they also still need veterans to lead the way. The one veteran player they are going to rely on is James van Riemsdyk. He still only twenty-seven-years-old, but on a very young Leafs team, van Riemsdyk is going have to be a leader on and off the ice. Last season Van Riemsdyk easily would have taken Toronto's scoring crown had he not be injured for half the year. Even with the super talented Auston Matthews on the team, van Riemsdyk should lead the Leafs points next season. Although it won't be long before Matthews is the Leafs perennial points leader.
Runner-Up Candidate: Auston Matthews
3 Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat
Ever since the Sedin twins had their breakout NHL seasons in 2005-06, the Vancouver Canucks offense has centred around them. This system worked well for the Canucks for a very long time. There was a time when the Sedin's were the most dangerous duo in the entire league. Both of them are former Art Ross Trophy winners as Henrik won in 2009-10, while Daniel won in 2010-11.
In recent years the Canucks haven't had too much success with all of their offense channelling through the Sedin's. It's only natural that as they are start to get up in age, their production will begin to decline, and last season is a perfect example of that. The Canucks were led by Daniel Sedin with 61 points. While that's still a decent amount points, it's a far cry from what the Sedin's used to produce. It wouldn't be a shock if their production continues to fall next season. This is why the Canucks need to look at some of their younger players to take charge of the offense. The player that particularly stands out is 2013 first round draft pick Bo Horvat. Last season was Horvat's second in the NHL and he finished third on the team in points with 40. While Horvat's was never a prolific scorer in junior but he should be able to be a 60 point player in the NHL, and that could happen as early as the 2016-17 season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Daniel Sedin
2 Washington Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov
For over a decade now, every time you think of the Washington Capitals, you think of Alexander Ovechkin. This is for good reason as Ovechkin has had a Hall of Fame worthy career. He made an huge impact right from the beginning of his NHL career, scoring 52 goals as a rookie. Ovechkin has since gone on to have seven 50-plus goals seasons, including scoring an incredible 65 goals in 2007-08.
At the age of thirty, Ovechkin remains one of, if not the top goal scorer in the league. In 2015-16, Ovechkin was the only player to reach the fifty goal plateau, winning his record sixth Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in the process. Although, Ovechkin has maintained his goal scoring ability, his number of assists has gone way down in recent years. Last season he was only able to manage a career low 21 assists. This has opened the door for players like Evgeny Kuznetsov to take over the Capitals scoring lead. The 2015-16 season was a breakout year for Kuznetsov, as he seen a 40 point improvement from the 2014-15 season. He is still just twenty-four-years-old and has time to get even better. A 90 point season could be in the cards for the talented Russian next season.
Runner-Up Candidate: Alexander Ovechkin
1 Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele
Since moving from Atlanta in 2011, the Winnipeg Jets have floated in mediocrity for the most part. In the five season's since making their return to the NHL, they have made the playoffs just once. The good thing about missing the playoffs, is that the Jets were able to attain high draft picks, which they then turned into very promising players. It's only a matter of time before the Jets are a perennial playoff team, and last season was a huge stepping stone for some of its talented young players.
In 2015-16, Winnipeg was led in points by Blake Wheeler, who had a career season with 78 points. While there is definitely nothing wrong with being a top ten scorer in the NHL, at almost thirty-years-old, it looks like last season will be hard to top for Wheeler. The Jets second highest scorer last season was Mark Scheifele, who had a breakout year. He improved his point totals from 49 to 61, in eleven less games too. Scheifele is still just twenty-three-years-old, and is still improving as a player. It's not too far fetched to say he could a top ten scorer in the NHL next year.
Runner-Up Candidate: Blake Wheeler
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