Through 23 games, the team's number one center is the leading scorer, even if his plus/minus isn't impressive. He is coming off a sub-par season after a 30+goal, 101-point season the year before. As a top draft pick, he has the pedigree and potential to take over games, and indeed, the entire NHL. The team isn't doing too bad in the grand scheme of things, still in playoff position, but they are on the cusp of a major shakeup.
I am of course talking about the 2005-06 Boston Bruins just before they traded Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks. Through 23 games, Jumbo Joe had 9 goals and 33 points but just an even defensive rating. Starting Game 24, as a newly minted Shark with a sniper on his wing that went on to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, Thornton posted 20 goals, 92 points, and a +31 rating in his final 58 games. Even though he didn't break 30 goals and the Sharks didn't break 100 points or win their division, Thornton still won the scoring title and the Hart Trophy as most valuable player, despite his Rocket Richard-winning linemate, Jonathan Cheechoo.
Up until Game 24, everything else there applies to Nicklas Backstrom this season. Backstrom sits tied for 7th in the NHL in scoring with 8 goals and 26 points, just 6 points behind the leader. He's got a -6 rating, but the team is going through a major shakeup with a new defensive-minded coach in Dale Hunter. He's got a struggling two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner on his wing, and Alex Ovechkin might just wake up under this new system and lead the NHL in goals again, which can only help Backstrom's already impressive production. In short, the stage is set for Nicklas Backstrom to take the NHL by storm, and if he leads the NHL in scoring, gets his +/- rating up, and the Caps finish the season within sight of the Southeast Division crown, this could be the year he wins the Hart Trophy as league MVP.