10 forwards poised to crack the all-important 70 point mark in 2015-16
Last week, we looked at players who could possible score 50 goals for the first time this season. This week, the focus is on players who could get 70 points for the first time.
Scoring 70 points in today's NHL is not easy. Only 19 players had at least 70 points last season, but with only six hitting the mark for the first time (Ryan Johansen, Tyler Johnson, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nick Foligno, Jiri Hudler, and Jakub Voracek).
Zeroing in on a guy about to break out in points is key to fantasy success. You need these players in your line-up if you're going for a championship; and if you're rebuilding, on-ice success drives up the price for trading away older skaters.
So which players have the best chance to hit 70 points for the first time this season? Read on.
10. Patrick Hornqvist
To get 70 points, Hornqvist would need to beat his career high by 17 points. But he was on pace for 65 points last year, until various injuries cost him opportunities to play with the Penguins superstars. The addition of Phil Kessel should help Hornqvist as well. Kessel gives Hornqvist another goal-scorer to pass to, which could lead to more assists and a realistic shot at 70 points.
9. Logan Couture
In the last four seasons, Couture had one campaign where he missed 17 games to injury, plus there was the lockout-shortened year. If we prorate those seasons, then in the last four, he'd be at 65, prorated 63, prorated 68, and 67. So he's pretty consistent player when it comes to points-per-game. The Sharks are going through a bit of a purgatory, as they are not rebuilding, and not really “going for it” either. Basically, they seem to be stuck in the middle. So it's tough to say what is going to happen with the Sharks players, especially with new coach Peter DeBoer on the scene. But knowing Couture has been so close to 70 on so many occasions merits his inclusion on this list.
8. Max Pacioretty
Like last week in the potential 50-goal scorers column, the same applies to Pacioretty here. He needs better linemates than what he's getting. According to Behind the Net, his top five non-defensemen even-strength linemates were, in order, David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher, Dale Weise, P.A. Parenteau and Tomas Plekanec. That's not going to help him reach 70 points. But when it comes to his production, injuries may be the biggest factor. He suffers major injuries, but bounces back quickly. There will come a time when he doesn't bounce back as fast. In the meantime, he's getting close to 70 points.
7. Blake Wheeler
A three-time 60-point player (including a career high 69 points in 2013-14), Wheeler has been one of the hearts and souls of the Jets ever since he was traded there back in 2011. He takes plenty of shots, plays top minutes, and is on the top power play line. Unfortunately, he needs to perform better with the man advantage to have a shot at 70 points. Last year, he had only two power play goals, to go along with just 10 power play assists. If he can bump that up even a little bit, then 70 is easily doable.
6. Jonathan Huberdeau
Huberdeau finally found what he needs to be a 70-point guy: Jaromir Jagr. Huberdeau had just 32 points in 57 games before Jagr was dealt to Florida, but 21 points in 21 games after the deal. He's got all the tools to have a 70-point year, but just needed that chemistry with a teammate to push him over the hump. Along with Aleksander Barkov as his linemate, this could be the first of many 70-point seasons for the 22-year-old.
5. Jaden Schwartz
The 23-year-old St. Louis Blue has seen his points and points per game increase every season in the league so far. His chance of hitting 70 points lies almost squarely on his linemate, Tarasenko. They played together for more than half their even strength shifts the past two seasons, and as Tarasenko ratchets up his points, so should Schwartz. Schwartz has been fairly healthy, so 70 points should be easily attainable.
4. Nathan MacKinnon
It was only a year ago that MacKinnon was the hottest property in fantasy hockey. But his sophomore season was the stuff slumps are made off. He struggled early, had just seven powerplay points, and eventually missed the last 18 games of the season with a broken foot after blocking a shot. So it's easy to forget that he had an excellent rookie campaign, with 63 points in 82 games. This season should be much better, and with it, a shot at 70 points.
3. Connor McDavid
Since the 04-05 lockout, there have been 13 players that have hit 60 points in their rookie year, including three who did it last season. And during that time five rookies have hit 70 points (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane and Paul Stastny). So 60 points for McDavid shouldn't be that tough, and 70 should be easily doable, especially when you consider the talent he has surrounding him in Edmonton with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins among others.
2. Nikita Kucherov
The sophomore busted out last season, hitting 65 points in 82 games, a huge improvement over the 18 points (in 52 games) he tallied as a rookie the season before. Of course, having chemistry with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat helps. Surprisingly, Kucherov's best area for improvement is on the power play, where he had just two goals last season. He also needs to get more ice time to be able to hit the 70-point mark, as 14:57 per game would make it extremely difficult. However, that number did jump up to 17 minutes in the playoffs, so that's a good sign of things to come.
1. Kyle Okposo
He's number one on this list even though he's become a Band-Aid Boy the last few campaigns. Two seasons ago he had 69 points in 71 games before getting injured. Last season, he had 51 in 60, despite suffering from a detached retina that forced him to miss 22 games. (He also missed 42 contests back in 2010-11, so he has a long-term history of injuries.) He's playing with John Tavares pretty much non-stop (Tavares was on the ice for 81.8 per cent of Okposo's time on ice, according to Behind the Net), which means If Okposo can play all 82 games, he's good for 70.
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