PHT is spending Christmas listing the best teams, the most disappointing teams, and making our mid-season awards picks. Because what better day than Christmas to infuriate readers with our opinions!
Jason Brough: It’s obviously Patrick Kane. He leads the NHL with 50 points. He’s on pace for 114, which would shatter last year’s Art Ross-winning mark of 87 by Jamie Benn. I doubt Kane will finish with 114 points, but remember, even 100 is a massive accomplishment in today’s game. So is getting a point in 26 straight games. That he’s done it all with two new linemates, one of them a rookie, makes it all the more impressive. There is nobody playing better hockey than he is right now.
Mike Halford: For sake of argument, I guess I’m picking the best of the runners-up because, as Brough so eloquently stated, Kane’s the obvious choice. So, let’s see here…there’s Kane-lite in Johnny Gaudreau, who willed the Flames back into playoff contention with his overtime heroics, and there’s also Benn, sitting right behind Kane in the scoring race.
My pick, though, is Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues have been decimated by injury, especially at forward — Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz, all skill guys, have combined to miss 81 games. By any logic, the Blues should’ve struggled, but Tarasenko was the great equalizer: 22 goals (tied with Benn for the league lead) and 38 points (fifth overall). He’s the main reason St. Louis went into the break sitting third in the NHL.