There are three players with a realistic shot at reaching 1000 points this coming season, barring Brad Richards magically turning back time and putting up a career-high 96 points. There's Patrick Marleau, who's practically a lock, needing just 12 points. He'll score at least that many goals. There's Vincent Lecavalier, who's a bit of a longshot to reach 1000 points, needing a salacious 69, an act he hasn't performed in 6 years.
Finally, there's none other than Henrik Sedin, captain of your Vancouver Canucks and el capitan of sus Canucks de Vancouver. Henrik sits at 915 points, needing 85 to reach 1000 and join the hallowed ranks with players like Doug Weight, Ray Whitney, and Brian Bellows.
Can Henrik do it? Can he scored 85 points this season? The answer to this question may help define the Canucks season.
The initial response has to be skepticism. Henrik has cracked the point-per-game barrier just twice in his career, when he and his brother won back-to-back Art Ross trophies in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Side note: have we fully grasped how absolutely incredible and unlikely it is that twin brothers won back-to-back Art Ross trophies? Have our minds been appropriately boggled by this information? I submit that they have not.
Henrik has, however, cracked 80+ points three other times in his career. Ever since 2005-06, Henrik has consistently scored 70+ points per season, only failing to do so in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and the John Tortorella-coached 2013-14 season. We can safely call those extenuating circumstances.
Last season, Henrik put up 73 points in 82 games. Assuming he stays healthy and plays all 82 games next season, which, unlike with most other NHL players, is actually a pretty safe assumption, he'd just need 12 more points than last season. That doesn’t seem entirely outrageous.
He and Daniel were remarkably effective on the power play, tallying 25 points each, same as Steven Stamkos and Phil Kessel. Henrik's scoring rate on the power play was actually his highest since 2010-11. Where he lost ground was at even-strength, where his scoring rate was his lowest since his sophomore season.
Another 25 points on the power play is eminently achievable. Radim Vrbata remains a potent power play weapon, while Yannick Weber and his heavy shot from the point reinvigorated the man advantage towards the end of last season. The question is whether the Sedins can re-find their even-strength mojo.
Possession-wise, the Sedins were as strong as ever at even-strength; they just didn't put the puck in the net as often as previous years. Where previously Henrik and Daniel drove shooting percentages through the roof with their preternatural playmaking, they fell back to the rest of the pack last season.
Henrik’s success at even-strength might depend on his other linemate, whether it’s Alex Burrows, Radim Vrbata, Jannik Hansen, or a wild card like Sven Baertschi or Jake Virtanen.
Another factor is the second line: the Canucks will depend on either Bo Horvat or Brandon Sutter at centre behind Henrik, neither of whom has really been tested in that role. Can they help provide enough secondary scoring to take the pressure off Henrik and the first line?
Alternately, the lack of offensive depth behind the Sedins might force more offence out of them, as they might have to be given more ice time.
Some might say their difficult division provides the biggest barrier, but the Pacific was arguably the most permissive division in the league last year, with the Oilers, Coyotes, and Sharks finishing 30th, 28th, and 24th in the league in goals against.
Among Pacific Divison teams, only the Kings finished in the top ten in goals against last season. They might have greater difficulty racking up points against the stingy Central.
The biggest difficulty may just be the direction of offence in the NHL. Last season, only 5 players cracked 80 points. Jamie Benn led the league with just 87 points. Henrik’s 73 points and Daniel’s 76 were enough to put both of them in the top 10 in league scoring. An 85-point season would potentially put Henrik in the Art Ross conversation.
All told, expecting 85 points out of Henrik (and by extension Daniel) is optimistic, but not unreasonable. The final question is whether 85-point seasons from the Sedins will be enough to carry the Canucks to the playoffs.
As mentioned above, Jamie Benn led the league with 87 points last season. His linemate Tyler Seguin was 7th in the league with 77 points. Their Dallas Stars missed the playoffs. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux were 4th and 11th in league scoring and their Philadelphia Flyers weren’t even close to the postseason.
Individual success for Henrik would be fun to see and certainly wouldn’t hurt the Canucks’ chances, but he’d likely much rather have a playoff berth than 1000 points.