When it comes to scoring in the NHL, the league goes through surges and depressions, similar to an electronic sine wave. There have been times when the Art Ross Trophy was awarded with relatively low scoring totals, such as the 2014-15 season when Jamie Benn led the league with 87 points.

Connor McDavid was on fire last year, winning the scoring total with 151 points. He did not double Benn's winning total from eight years earlier, but he was in a completely different area code than the hard working Dallas Star.

McDavid was a man who outdistanced the field a year ago, but this year's scoring race is a much different kind of race.

Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning is leading the way with just a few days left in the season, and he is followed closely by Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and the Oilers' McDavid.

That trio is followed by Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins and Auston Matthews. Those three are all having great seasons — Matthews is within one goal of hitting the 70 mark — but they are not going to bring home the Art Ross Trophy that goes to the highest scoring player in the NHL.

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Few player have the opportunity to score multiple points on an every-game basis. Kucherov has all the physical skills needed to dominate because he is a brilliant skater with a fast, accurate shot and he is capable of zipping accurate passes to talented teammates who know how to put the puck in the net.

Kucherov has netted 43 goals and 98 assists to lead the league with 141 points and two games to go in the regular season. He has been dynamic when Tampa Bay has the man advantage, scoring 13 goals and handing out a shocking 39 assists. It is easy to picture Kucherov on the power play, positioning himself near the far boards, holding on to the puck and then delivering a perfect pass to Steven Stamkos for vicious slap shot.

Kucherov sees the game as well as any player in the league, particularly the offensive game. He is regularly able to position himself in a spot where he has room to hold on to the puck for an extra split second. There is never any panic to his game.

There are issues with Kucherov's defensive effort and play in his own zone, but when the game is on the line, he knows what is required.

At this point in the season, Kucherov has all but clinched the scoring title.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

Is there any player who creates more excitement with the puck on his stick than MacKinnon? Those who support McDavid are raising their hands and pointing at their man, but the point here is that MacKinnon's energy level with the puck is something that is rarely seen.

MacKinnon went into Sunday's road game against the Vegas Golden Knights with 137 points, and the Avs will have one more game after that effort is completed. He could have an outside shot to catch Kucherov, but he would need a spectacular effort and for the Tampa Bay star to be held off the score sheet.

MacKinnon has been explosive this year with 51 goals and 87 assists. The dynamic and explosive MacKinnon has 10 power play goals and 9 game winners.

He also looks the part with his explosive speed and daredevil demeanor. When MacKinnon is skating with the puck, he dares opponents to to try to take the puck away from him. Almost nobody can do it.

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Even though this is not McDavid's year, there are very few observers who do not believe that he is the best and most talented player in the game.

He is the sport's most gifted athlete and the fastest skater when the puck is on his stick. He takes giant strides and he makes it impossible for the best players in the league to keep up with him.

McDavid has missed his last three games with a lower-body injury and that will keep him from having a chance to win his sixth Art Ross Trophy this season. The Oilers are hoping that end-of-season rest will allow him to dominate once the Stanley Cup playoffs get underway at the end of the week. He has 31 goals and 99 assists to this point in the season.

His goal total is down considerably from the 64 he had last year, but his 99 assists represent a career high.