While the main focus is usually on team success during an NHL season, one of the things that can make a season special is when an individual breaks new ground in franchise history. Fans in Winnipeg can harken back to Teemu Selanne lighting up the league with 76 goals for the original Jets 20 years ago, the Canadiens still revere Maurice Richard's 50 goals in 50 games (1945), and in Detroit, Steve Yzerman's 155-point campaign of 1988-89 remains the gold standard for what one dynamic scorer can do to energize a city.
As we look ahead to the upcoming season, might we see a Nashville Predator establish a new franchise record in one of the major statistical categories? Let's review the contenders...
Current Record Holder: Jason Arnott scored 33 goals in 2008-9.
Patric Hornqvist has come close with 30 in 2009-10, so if he can stay healthy and enjoy a bit of puck luck he'd have a decent chance. Over the last three full NHL seasons Hornqvist has averaged 257 shots on goal while playing less than 16 minutes of ice time per game, leaving an upside of 10-20% in terms of offensive opportunities if Barry Trotz saw fit to give him more of a featured role.
Figure something like 270 shots on goal with a 12.5% shooting percentage, and he'd be there.
Stalberg is a wild card opportunity, as we're not quite sure how he'll fit in the Nashville lineup yet. Will he step into a top-line spot getting the juiciest usage at even strength and on the power play? He's played second- (or third-) fiddle in Chicago for the last few years, and potted 22 goals in 2011-12 on 215 shots. He fires at will, so if the ice time is there, he could take a run at 30-35 goals.
Longshots: Colin Wilson & Gabriel Bourque enjoyed productive goal-scoring seasons in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, but benefited from Kostitsyn-like shooting percentages (26.9 & 22.0, respectively) which are unlikely to be repeated.
Current Record Holder: Paul Kariya dished off 54 assists back in 2005-6, and nobody else has topped the 50-mark in franchise history.
A high number of assists is usually driven by an especially dynamic individual or widespread offensive production that a playmaker cashes in on. I don't see either of those factors at play this season, so I don't see a strong threat to Kariya's assist record coming soon.
Current Record Holder: Also in 2005-6, Kariya set the bar at 85 points.
Yeah, if nobody is in danger of hitting 50 assists I doubt that the point-per-game barrier is in danger of being crossed.
Current Record Holder: Pekka Rinne with 43 in 2011-12.
I'll be blunt. I hate goaltending wins as a stat, but people gravitate to it anyway, so here we are. Two major factors would have to come together for Rinne to make a run at his own record. First, he'll have to be 100% recovered from his off-season hip surgery right from the start, and handle another monster workload. Second, the team in front of him would need to exceed all expectations and win something like 47-48 games, assuming Rinne gets 90% of the action.
I'm not holding my breath on this one.
Current Record Holder: Pekka Rinne with 7, in 2008-9 and 2009-10.
Now here's one with real potential, considering the fact that Rinne has had at least 5 shutouts in each of the last five seasons, including the short season just completed, in which he was on pace to post 8.5 shutouts if it was a full campaign. Given the "return to Predator hockey" mantra we've been hearing from the Nashville organization, a full-on team effort to win tight, low-scoring games could lead to a bounty of blanks on the Megatron at Bridgestone Arena.
What do you think, Dear Reader? Which of these five main team records is under the greatest threat this season?
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