For many years, I have considered an elite offensive players as one who could post more than a point per game played. But, as score g has declined since the last lockout, there are fewer and fewer players who are able to hit that mark causing me to reassess what we should expect from an elite player in the NHL.
As recently as the 2013/14 season there were 13 players who finished above the 1.00 mark.
In 2014/15, that number has dropped to 8 and this season is much the same although there are another 4 players within the range.
TOP P/PG Players 2015/16
- Patrick Kane – 1.29
- Jamie Benn – 1.10
- Connor McDavid – 1.03 (small sample size)
- Tyler Seguin – 1.03
- Evgeni Malkin – 1.02
- Sidney Crosby – 1.02
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 1.01
- Erik Karlsson – 1.00
- Johnny Gaudreau – .99
- Joe Thornton – .97
- Joe Pavelski – .97
- Niklas Backstrom – .97
At, .94, Alex Ovechkin doesn’t make the grade but with 41 goals on the season I think we can give him a pass and declare him an elite player.
Moving the Goalposts
Obviously, 1.00 P/GP in the current NHL is too high a bar since you will note, of the 12 players listed above. 3 play for the Washington Capitals, 2 for the Dallas Stars, 2 for the Pittsburgh Penguins and 2 for the San Jose Sharks leaving only 3 players on other teams in the league.
It appears that, if we move the goalposts to .80 PPG in the modern NHL, we may have the issue surrounded.
There are really no glaring omissions from this ranking but there are a few noteworthy items.
A very slow start to the season has impacted Jakub Voracek in very dramatic fashion. Last season, Voracek scored .99 P/GP but it should also be noted that he has been climbing higher in the scoring rate for the past couple of months.
Two seasons ago, Taylor Hall posted 1.07 P/PG but since then is .72 and .80. Has the league figured him out and knows he will just rush up the left side and fire a generally harmless low percentage shot on goal?
Seeing Johnny Gaudreau at .99 P/GP after a .80 in his stellar rookie season is a revelation. Despite playing on a team that is near the bottom of the standings, Gaudreau has emerged as the premiere LW in the WC outside of the dominant force that is Jamie Benn.
Patrice Bergeron is quietly having an exceptional season. After posting .68 P/GP last season and winning the Selke Trophy, he’s kept up his defensive dominance and his scoring has jumped to .90 and he looks like a sure bet to score 30 goals and 70 points this season.
And finally, I can’t say enough about what Jaromir Jagr is accomplishing in Florida and his golden years.
His .82 P/GP on a low scoring Panthers team is remarkable at his age and it appears he has the ability to play a few more seasons at a very high level.
All hockey fans should hope so.