The Art Ross Trophy is presented to the player with the most points at the end of the season. Last season, the award went to Connor McDavid after he scored 100 points in his 2016 campaign.
The Art Ross Trophy is a very prestigious trophy, but every year there is one player that makes a surprise push for it. In my opinion, there are three surprise players that could give players like Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon and John Tavares a run for their money down the stretch.
For these three players to win the award, they are going to have to have a little bit of luck, but they will also have to keep up their great play.
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
Blake Wheeler has been a very productive forward the past few seasons. Last season, Wheeler scored 74 points in what was his second highest career total. Currently at 54 points, Wheeler is only seven points behind Kucherov’s 61 for the league lead.
Recently, Wheeler has found success scoring the puck, and that is a big reason why he can make a run at the Art Ross Trophy. In his last 11 games, he has scored 13 points, and when Wheeler scores, he scores in bunches. In the 48 games he has made an appearance in, Wheeler has scored multiple points in 15 of them.
Another reason Wheeler could make a push is the team he has surrounding him. Wheeler is playing alongside Patrik Laine, who is one of the best young scorers in the NHL. But Wheeler also has Kyle Connor, who is a very talented young forward as well.
Connor and Laine have combined for 36 goals so far this season, and a big reason for that is because they are playing with Blake Wheeler. Over his last 10 with this line pairing, Wheeler has five goals and seven assists.
For Wheeler to win the Art Ross Trophy, he is going to have to have a hot streak at some point this season. It doesn’t have to be too big, just something like a 10-game stretch. Wheeler is a fantastic scorer, and he is benefitting from the players around him. He’s on pace for a career year and could very well make a run at the Art Ross Trophy.
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand is the scoring leader on a Bruins team that is starting to hit its stride. Marchand currently has 50 points this year, sitting him 11 behind Kucherov for the NHL lead, but Marchand has been scoring in bunches lately.
In his last eight games, Marchand has scored 16 points. He is on an incredible hot streak, and if it continues, he will rocket up the point standings very fast. Marchand is my favorite of the three surprise players to win the Art Ross Trophy.
One thing that separates Marchand from the NHL’s other top scorers is the efficiency that his team plays with while he is on the ice. His plus-minus rating is through the roof right now at +24. Marchand is playing on one of the top lines in the NHL in Boston. He is playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Both players can pass and score at will, and this is shown in the balance of Marchand’s stats. So far this season, Marchand has 21 goals and 29 assists, which are some of the most balanced numbers among all forwards.
For Marchand to win the Art Ross Trophy, it will all depend on how long this recent scoring surge lasts. If he can keep up this high level of play for another four or five games, he can put himself just a few points behind the league leaders. Marchand definitely has a genuine shot at winning the Art Ross Trophy in 2018.
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
Although he is not far behind Kucherov in points this season, it would still be a surprise if Bailey was able to win the Art Ross Trophy. Bailey plays alongside one of the best scorers in the game in John Tavares. Tavares is currently three points ahead of Bailey this season, but this is why I think Bailey can take it home.
So far, Bailey has 54 points on the season, and a lot of that is because he is playing on a line with Tavares and Anders Lee. However, Bailey has not been able to surpass his linemate this season. Bailey is racking up an incredible amount of assists. He is second in the NHL right now with 42, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
Bailey is in the running for the award right now. He just needs to stay on the pace he is on, and if he finds a way to score a few times without the help of Tavares, he might pass him up.
The Islanders have one of the best offenses in the NHL and are scoring 3.41 goals per game. The chances for Bailey will be there.
Anyone at anytime can start to feel it and start scoring points at a rapid rate. These are the three surprise players that I think will do that.
Wheeler, Marchand and Bailey are fantastic players that can score at any time. Their hard work and dedication to the sport is paying off for them, and it is enjoyable to watch.
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