Yesterday we took a look around the league at the NHL's top scorers and how they might impact a clubs' playoff odds. Since 2008, leading scorers on playoff teams have averaged 79.63 points per season while modern dynasty teams, those making the playoffs 5 of the last 5 years, have averaged 85.166 points per season from their top scorers. Needless to say, the Avalanche's 66.2 points per season from guys like Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O`Reilly is not enough to be competitive. No matter how good their supporting cast, it takes a special player to lead their team in points, and incredible talent to break the 70 point barrier in the process. The question facing Greg Sherman and the front office now, is can one of our Avs be that player consistently? Or do we need help from outside?
Average Points per Season - 62.33
Career Points per Game - .8758
Best Season - 81 GP 79 Pts
Stastny has scored 70+ points twice in the past five years, the Avalanche made the playoffs on both occasions. Stastny is statistically, the best player on the team and should be leading the way every year, but he's struggled without consistency on the wing. Hopefully with a full season playing next to linemates Jamie McGinn and David Jones, Stastny can regain his scoring touch, especially when it comes to assists. If Stastny wants to stay with the Avalanche he needs to climb back towards the 70-point territory we know he's capable of or he may find himself expendable.
Average Points per Season - 50.00
Career Points per Game - .6849
Best Season - 80 GP 67 Pts
In just his second year in the NHL Matt Duchene came close to breaking through the 70-point ceiling. As he entered the 2012 season, many expected him to jump to 70 or even 80 points, but after struggles early in the year and a serious knee injury Duchene registered only 28 points on the year. Duchene has an incredible skill set and he should certainly be able to repeat his 67-point sophomore performance many times throughout his career, but his play this season, even before the injury raises serious questions about his ability to score consistently or carry the team through rough patches
Average Points per Season - 35.66
Career Points per Game - .4261
Best Season - 81 GP 55 Pts
By no means does Ryan O'Reilly have the best offensive skill set on the Colorado Avalanche, and yet he led the team in scoring this season. O'Reilly is tenacious on the ice, plays responsibly on both sides of the puck, and leads the team on the ice, but whether he should ever lead the team on the scoreboard remains to be seen. O'Reilly's 55 point season could be a sign of things to come, he plays a similar game to Boston's Patrice Bergeron, a two-time 70 point scorer who averages 56 points a year but no one should be counting on O'Reilly to carry the team offensively again next year.
Average Points per Season - 52
Career Points per Game - .6341
Best Season - 82 GP 52 Pts
Calder Finalist Gabriel Landeskog finished the season just 3 points shy of Ryan O'Reilly's team lead and as an 18 year old rookie, he should have plenty of room to improve on those offensive numbers. This season the rookie winger was one of the Avs most consistent and threatening offensive players. He led the team in goals (22) and shots (270) firing 80 more pucks at the net than his nearest competitor (Stastny, 190). Many Avs fans expect Landeskog to be a 30/30 or even 30/40 player in the coming years but anyone can fall victim to growing pains, and relying on a 19 year old for most of the team's sustained offensive pressure is a risky move.
Average Points per Season - 58.57 or 67.33 (Removed 2010-2011 13 game season)
Career Points per Game - .8167
Best Season - 82 GP 94 Pts
When Parise has played a full season of NHL hockey, he's scored at least 30 goals and 60 or more points 5/6 times. With 94 and 82 point seasons in 2009 and 2010 respectively, Parise has proven that he has the skill set to excel at over a point per game pace and carry a team's offense on his own. Adding Parise's 30 goals to the Avalanche last season would move them from 23rd goal scoring to 8th. Let that sink in for a moment. Though Chris Stewart and Matt Duchene came close, no Avalanche player has scored 30 goals since Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk did it in 2007. Parise brings point per game potential and would undoubtedly inflate the numbers of whichever center he played with.
Average Points per Season - 58.28
Career Points per Game - .8699
Best Season - 81 GP 79 Pts
Similar to Parise, Semin has scored 30 goals 3 times in his last 6 seasons, including a 40-goal campaign in 2010. Semin's goal scoring has however faded in recent years along with teammate Alexander Ovechkin. How much of Semin's production is individual and how much he benefits from Ovechkin is difficult to say, but Semin can score 20-30 goals and provide substantial offensive pressure no matter where he plays.
Average Points per Season - 60.77
Career Points per Game - .8115
Best Season - 78 GP 79 Pts
Rick Nash is of course a long shot option because of his contract, but his offensive performance fits the profile the Avs are looking for. Nash's numbers are slightly lower than those of Zach Parise and Alex Semin, but it is likely that playing in Columbus with a very limited supporting cast has held Rick Nash back. The fact is, Nash is an offensive force on the ice every night, scoring or not he creates chances for his team. Nash has registered 200 shots 7 of his 9 seasons and over 300 shots 3 of the last 5 years. Remember the Avs 2nd place shot taker had just 190 (Stastny). Nash has scored 30 or more goals each of the last 5 years and his assists would surely skyrocket given the opportunity to play with a Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny.So What?
Entering next months free agent frenzy the Colorado Avalanche should absolutely be on the hunt for a top flight sniper. Zach Parise, Alex Semin or Rick Nash could all help the Avalanche become a playoff contender, bringing 30 goals a year to a team that has struggled to score. But before we go frothing at the mouth over a $7.5 Million Parise contract, its important to recognize that the Avalanche already have a stud forward. Quiet as his game may be, Stastny has better points per game than Parise, Semin or Nash AND he comes at the "bargain price" of just $6.6 Million. That said, its time for Stastny to return to 70 point form, another 50-some point season is unacceptable. At least for now, the Avalanche go as Paul Stastny goes and if history is any indication he needs 70 points for us to make the playoffs.