It became clear quite quickly this season that Leon Draisaitl was going to hit 100 points. He’s been the league’s greatest offensive threat all season, and last Saturday, he finally did the deed, scoring his 100th point in just his 65th game of the campaign.
To show how serious he is about winning the scoring race, too, Draisaitl hasn’t slowed since, scoring eight points in his past three games, including a four-goal, five-point night against the Nashville Predators earlier in the week. Edmonton Oilers fans have been referring to him as MVP for much of the season, and his point totals help his case. He’s surely the favorite for the Hart Trophy.
We’ve covered the MVP topic already, but when it comes to the Art Ross Trophy, Draisaitl has a firm grasp right now. Only Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr (1996) and Wayne Gretzky (1994) have recorded 130 points since 1993 and Nikita Kucherov narrowly missed the mark last season by a mere two points. Reaching 130 points will be a challenge, but with the way Draisaitl is playing, it can’t be discounted.
With time running out on the NHL campaign, which other players are getting close to the 100-point mark?
Connor McDavid, Edmonton (95 points)
Hey, this McDavid guy is pretty good! Had McDavid not missed six games with a quadriceps injury in February, he’d have 100 points by now and be in lockstep with Draisaitl in the Art Ross race. McDavid has eight points in his past four games and 14 in seven games since returning to action, so he’s isn’t far from hitting 100 for the fourth time in five seasons. Hopefully that’s enough to secure a playoff spot for the Oilers for just the second time in McDavid’s career.
David Pastrnak, Boston (93 points)
It was only a matter of time until Pastrnak established himself as a superstar in the NHL. His opportunity to hit the 100-point plateau last season was derailed due to an injury, but healthy throughout this season, the dominant Bruins winger is closing in on 50 goals – he’s leading the league with 47 as of this writing – and is a no-brainer to finish with 100 points. Pastrnak leads the league with 19 power-play goals and 10 game-winners, so when the Bruins have needed Pastrnak to step up, he’s been ready. Prepare for another long playoff run in Boston.
Artemi Panarin, NY Rangers (93 points)
Some suggest he’s the Hart Trophy frontrunner, others simply admire how important he’s been to the Rangers. Panarin is having the best season of his career and nobody seems capable of stopping him, with the Russian forward sitting fourth in the league with 38 points since Jan. 1. Panarin has set career highs with 32 goals and 93 points, and hitting 100 is the next big mark for ‘Bread Man’ as the Rangers look to make a surprise playoff appearance.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado (90 points)
The Avalanche have been riddled with injuries this season. MacKinnon, however, hasn’t missed a beat and has been a model of consistency even when linemates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have missed time this season. MacKinnon has never broken the 100-point barrier, but with seasons of 97 and 99 points in consecutive campaigns, he’s bound to finally reach the mark, especially with the Avalanche playing as well as they have.
Brad Marchand, Boston (85 points)
Pastrnak’s linemate Marchand hasn’t missed a beat this season and should hit 100 points for the second consecutive season. Marchand’s 3.07 points-per-60 rating at 5-on-5 is the best on the Bruins and his primary-assists-per-60 of 1.3 tops MacKinnon for first in the league among players with at least 800 minutes of 5-on-5 action. As long as the Bruins remain consistent and Marchand keeps at his current pace, he’ll be just fine. Did anyone doubt him, anyway?
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay (82 points)
Sure, he won’t match his incredible 128-point campaign, but Kucherov should hit the century mark for the third season in a row. One of the most dynamic offensive threats in the league, Kucherov sits second in the league with 41 points in 28 games since Jan. 1 and 30 points in a 19-game span that ended earlier this week. A more explosive start (Kucherov had just 11 points in the first 13 games this season) would have ramped up his numbers.
Patrick Kane, Chicago (82 points)
Kane is right on the cusp of a 100-point pace, and that’s close enough to consider him in the running. Besides, with points in 52 contests, only Leon Draisaitl (56) has recorded a point in more games than Kane this season. With 14 games left on the docket, Kane needs a few multi-point games along the way to hit the mark. Kane has hit 100 points twice before, including a career-high 110-point effort last season. The Blackhawks aren’t officially out of contention for a playoff spot, but they are six points behind Winnipeg for the final wild-card spot. If Chicago has any chance at playing past Game No. 82, Kane needs to turn it up.
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