Patrick Kane could become the first back-to-back winner of the Art Ross Trophy since Jaromir Jagr won four straight from 1998 to 2001. The winger recorded three points in a 4-2 win over the Canadiens on Tuesday to boost himself into a tie with Connor McDavid atop the points leaderboard at 76.
Following an absolutely monster stretch from Kane, who led the league with 106 points last season, he could become the first to do it two seasons in a row since Jagr. If he pulls it off, he would also be the first Blackhawk to win consecutive Art Ross Trophies since Stan Mikita in 1967-68.
Kane wasn’t close to the top of the points leaderboard a month ago, but a scorching few weeks have shuffled him to the top. There was a lot of talk about Jonathan Toews’ big scoring binge in February, which won him the NHL’s No. 1 star for the month, but in the meantime, Kane has also been crushing opposing defenses.
Since the start of February, Kane has 16 goals and 11 assists in 17 games. Nobody has scored more during that span, and the only player to match Kane’s 27 points is Jack Eichel, who needed an extra four games to do it. Even if you remove his power play points, Kane has exceeded a point per game over the past six weeks.
That stretch has elevated Kane toward a chance at history. The list of players to win back-to-back Art Ross Trophies in NHL history is pretty incredible.
If Kane can finish strong to beat out McDavid and others, he’ll be entering some pretty rarefied air: Gordie Howe (1951-54), Dickie Moore (1958-59), Stan Mikita (1964-65; 1967-68), Phil Esposito (1971-74), Guy Lafleur (1976-78), Wayne Gretzky (1981-87; 1990-91), Mario Lemieux (1988-89; 1992-93; 1996-97), Jagr (1998-01).
Since the reign of Jagr, there’s been a lot more parity. While Sidney Crosby (2007, 2014), Evgeni Malkin (2009, 2012), and Martin St. Louis (2004, 2013) have each won it twice, none of them have done it in consecutive seasons.
That’s something Kane could pull off with a strong finish over the next 13 games, which is the exact same number that McDavid has left. There are lots of players closely behind them, too, including Crosby and Malkin, who would probably be first and second if they didn’t miss any time due to injury this season.
It’s going to be a mad dash to the finish, and one of the most exciting Art Ross Trophy races we’ve had in recent memory. It’ll definitely be more thrilling than a year ago, when Kane pulled away to an eventual 17-point advantage over second-place Jamie Benn.
And if Kane pulls it off, he’ll join that special group that includes Howe, Mikita, Esposito, Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, and others. It’s already getting crowded in Kane’s trophy case, but there’s room for more.