Who Will Win the Rocket Richard?

With fewer than 20 games remaining in the 2019-2020 NHL season, it’s really time to contemplate who’s going to take home some hardware. Some of the subjective awards such as the Hart and Calder Trophies we can debate for multiple reasons up until (and even after) the awards are handed out in June. However, the awards that are decided as soon as the season ends, like the Rocket Richard, are really starting to come down to the wire. For a while, it was a three horse race…until Leon Draisaitl decided to get four goals against Nashville on Monday and throw his hat into the race. Let’s take a look at the four who are going to make this interesting.

Note: I’m writing this during the March 3rd games, so numbers may be different upon their completion.

David Pastrnak – 47 goals, 16 games remaining

Pasta has been electric all year and is well on his way to his first 100 point season and potentially a Hart Trophy nomination. With 16 games left in the season, he’s got plenty of opportunity to increase his lead. Those 16 games include matchups against weaker teams like Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa, and the Southern California teams. So far this season, Pasta has scored 9 goals in 12 games against them. Surprisingly, not a lot of them are against Detroit or Ottawa, but I’m a big believer in the law of averages. Pastrnak is going to score against those teams. These six teams let up a lot of goals and I could easily see Pastrnak capitalize.

Auston Matthews – 45 goals, 16 games remaining

Matthews is having a career year in terms of goals and points. I’d say Toronto has a tougher schedule coming down the stretch, but they do still play Ottawa, Detroit and the SoCal teams, so there’s definitely still plenty of chance to put the puck in the back of the net. Matthews has 8 goals in 9 games against these teams, so there’s reason to believe he’ll pot a couple coming down the stretch. They do play more defensively sound teams like the Islanders, Blue Jackets, and Capitals, however, so he could just as easily struggle as we wrap up this season.

Alex Ovechkin – 45 goals, 17 games remaining

Took him long enough to get 700, eh? Just kidding, this dude is an absolute machine. Since he’s gotten 700, he’s ramped up the pace a little bit, and doesn’t have that bad of a schedule coming up. The Caps face Detroit twice, Buffalo twice, Ottawa, and Minnesota. In the 5 games he’s played against these teams, he has 9 goals. Is that good? You decide. On the other hand, they play Pittsburgh twice, St. Louis, Columbus, and Toronto. I’d say these two groups of teams somewhat cancel each other out, so assume Ovi continues to score at his usual pace. Will he get 50? No question. Will it be enough? Maybe.

Leon Draisaitl – 43 goals, 16 games remaining

Like I said earlier, Draisaitl wasn’t really on anyone’s radar until he lit up Nashville on Monday night. Do I actually think he’s going to win? Not really, but he has to at least be in the conversation after his four goal performance. Looking at the remaining schedule, Draisaitl benefits from playing in a weaker Pacific Division, playing Anaheim twice and San Jose. Other than one game against Ottawa, the Oilers probably have the toughest remaining schedule out of these goal scorers’ teams. They’ll face Vegas twice, Philly, Washington, Columbus, and the Islanders. If you add that to the fact that Draisaitl is more of an all around playmaker than a pure goal scorer, it’s tough to imagine him pulling this off. But hey, I guess stranger things have happened right?

My Pick: David Pastrnak

I know it’s a bit of a cop out to pick the guy who’s currently leading, but it’s really tough to bet against Pastrnak and the Bruins right now. That power play has an exclamation point put on it by Pasta’s one timer and he has elite goal scoring ability. I wouldn’t necessarily say Boston has the easiest remaining schedule, but it’s definitely not the toughest. I’d say he at least gets to 55 and might even get close to 60. Go ahead and lock in that prediction. Just give me a cut of your winnings when your bets pay off.

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