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As the NHL remains on hiatus, like most other sports, due to COVID-19 we have been looking at the year end awards and who could walk away with said trophies. So far we have made a claims for Jared Bednar as the Jack Adams Award winner and Nathan MacKinnon to be at least in the conversation for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Next up is possibly the easiest award to give… the Rocket Richard Trophy.

The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, also known as the Maurice Richard Trophy, is awarded annually to the leading goal scorer in the National Hockey League and is named after the Hall of Fame right winger. First awarded at the end of the 1998-99 season the trophy was donated to the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens, whom Richard represented for all 18 years of his career.

Given it is awarded to the player with the most goals it leaves no room for media bias and one of the only awards where the winner is known in advance. It also means I must step away from my own conscious bias and pick a non Colorado Avalanche player. Nathan MacKinnon is the closest Avalanche player and even he is 13 goals back from the leaders, David Pastrnak and Alexander Ovechkin. I’m not saying he can’t catch them (you don’t want to make Nate mad) I’m just saying it’s unlikely.

Pastrnsk and Ovechkin both sit on 48 goals for the season so far with Toronto Maple Leaf’s Auston Matthews one back on 47. Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers round out the top five with 43 and 41 respectively.

Smart money would be on Ovechkin who has won the trophy six of the last seven years and recently entered the 700 career goals club against the New Jersey Devils. The Russian right winger shows no signs of slowing down as he looks to catch Wayne Gretzky on 894 career goals.

But he will have to watch for the new breed of Pastrnak, Matthews and Draisaitl who are having break-out years. Draisaitl has already broke his points total for last year and will be looking to surpass the 50 goals he bagged, while the 47 scored by Matthews is already his best return since the 40 goals he scored in his rookie year.

However the most dangerous young pretender to Ovechkin’s throne is without doubt the Boston Bruins David Pastrnak. Already even on goals scored with Ovi, Pastrnak has the added advantage of having Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on his line in which many NHL pundits call the best in the game.

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With a 17.2 shot percentage he’s currently leading his two closest rivals, Ovechkin sitting at 15.4 and Matthews at 16.2. That is why I ultimately believe Pastrnak will pick up the award come season end, whenever that may be.