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Video- Sportsnet’s Top 5 Russian Players Of All-Time In The NHL

Datsyuk and Fedorov make the list.

 

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damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

Awesome to see Pavel and Sergei in there and I am glad Sergei is a head of Pavel.

Time to retire 91 Lil’ Illitch!  3 Stanley Cups and that team didn’t win another one without him.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 03/18/19 at 12:50 PM ET

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I’d take Fedorov at his peak over Datsyuk at his peak.

But Fedorov had a relatively short and early prime and never really had any elite offensive seasons after 1996, except arguably 2003. He really was a shadow of his former self already by the time he hit his late 20s, although obviously still a very good player.

Datsyuk bloomed later and peaked a little lower, but also maintained a higher level of play for a lot longer. And obviously both players were great defensively pretty much their entire careers.

If I needed one guy to win me one game, it’s 1993-94 Fedorov, no question.

If I could choose to start over with either guy at age 21, though, and have them play another full career in Detroit? I’d probably take Datsyuk.

It’s tough though. Once you adjust for scoring era they actually come out closer than you might expect to one another on both peak performance and longevity.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/18/19 at 02:33 PM ET

d ca's avatar

But Fedorov had a relatively short and early prime and never really had any elite offensive seasons after 1996, except arguably 2003.  He really was a shadow of his former self already by the time he hit his late 20s,...
Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/18/19 at 02:33 PM ET

HUH? You realize he was made to play a different style of hockey in order to win championships.

but he still could dominate like in 96-97 when at age 27 he scored 5 goals in a game. Check out the list since that season and you’ll only find 3 additional players to do it. Then of course you realize that Bowman moved him to Defense during this period (late in 1997) so that had a direct impact on his point production. Then switched back for the playoffs and went on to score 20 points in the playoffs
Fedorov a defenseman

Or 97-98 at age 28 after sitting out because of a contract dispute he came in and lead the league in both playoff shots and goals (with 70% done at even strength) on the way to a Stanley Cup while playing over 20 mins a game (according to pnep’s estimates)
Pnep’s hfboard TOI

Look at age 29 playoffs 9 pts in 10 games.
age 30..8pts in 9 games
age 31..7pts in 6 games

all the while during those last 3 years his minute usage per game was increasing.

I get Detroit fans felt betrayed by Fedorov for
1) jacking up their season ticket prices after the holdout year
2) leaving when the team could have had a few more seasons of Cup runs

but don’t take away from how good he was. He was better than Gretzky during his “prime year at age 24.” But that doesn’t mean he could lead the league every year and conform to Bowman’s style to win championships. But he was dominate until his early 30’s.

 

Posted by d ca on 03/18/19 at 04:36 PM ET

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Posted by d ca on 03/18/19 at 04:36 PM ET

For the record Fedorov was always my favorite player growing up, and still probably my second favorite player of that era after Lidstrom. I never felt betrayed by him.

And in fairness, maybe “shadow of his former self” was too loaded a term.

But the Fedorov of the late 90s and beyond ... I just don’t think he was a consistently dominant player after about 1996. Very very very good, yes, especially when you consider his defensive play. But I would still put him clearly a rung beneath the top forwards of that era (Jagr, Sakic, Forsberg, Lindros, Selanne, Sundin, Bure, etc.).

Fedorov ranks 27th overall in points per game between 1996-97 and 2002-03—his last seven seasons in Detroit, played at age 27 through age 33.

By contrast, Datsyuk was 6th overall in points per game in the NHL over the same age range (2005-06 through 2011-12) and won three consecutive Selkes in the middle of the run to boot. (Fedorov was always a great defensive center as well, though I’m skeptical of the “changed his game to win” explanation of his scoring decline—he won both of his Selkes before the Wings’ first cup in 1997, and received no votes for the award in 1998, 1999, or 2000.

Again, I love Fedorov, have always loved Fedorov, think he was a great player who is absolutely a Hall of Famer and absolutely deserves to have his number retired in Detroit. The version of Fedorov that existed from about 1992 to 1996 or so was maybe the most explosive, electric, edge-of-your-seat, pure talent the Red Wings ever had. And he was still a great player afterward!

I just think his later career is just a teensy bit overrated. Don’t shoot me.

Even so, choosing between him and Datsyuk is almost impossible. It’s razor close.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/18/19 at 05:14 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Time to retire 91 Lil’ Illitch!

Agreed. Both 91 and 13 should be retired. smile

Posted by bigfrog on 03/18/19 at 09:53 PM ET

d ca's avatar

But I would still put him clearly a rung beneath the top forwards of that era (Jagr, Sakic, Forsberg, Lindros, Selanne, Sundin, Bure, etc.).

I think you need to start thinking of Fedorov more objectively as a top forward of that era. You are comparing some players in their early 20’s with Fedorov’s late 20’s/early 30’s years. Comparing apples to apples yields:


Lindros(A) from age 27-33 82 goals (29 on PP), 124 assists, +/- +  27, 0 Cups
Forsberg(B) from   27-33 106 goals (37 on PP), 274 assists, +/- +119, 1 Cup
Bure(C)  from age 27-33   183 goals (52 on PP) , 118 assists, +/- + 25, 0 Cups
Fedorov(F) from age 27-33 188 goals (55 on PP), 237 assists, +/- +103, 3 Cups
Sundin(D)  from age 27-33 200 goals (60 on PP) , 257 assists, +/- +71, 0 Cups
Selanne from age 27-33 238 goals (77 on PP) , 262 assists,+/- +14, 0 Cups
Sakic     from age 27-33 224 goals (67 on PP), 345 assists, +/- +104, 1 Cup
Jagr(E)  from age 27-33 246 goals (81 on PP), 324 assists, +/- +78, 0 Cups

(A) Lindros missed a season at age 31 (lockout)
(B) Forsberg missed two seasons at age 28 (following spleen removal) and 31 (lockout)
(C) Bure didn’t play after age 31
(D) Sundin missed age 33 (lockout)
(E) Jagr missed a season at age 32 (lockout)
(F) Fedorov played defense for at least 8 weeks of the regular season during this era (that I can recall).

Overall (any age)
Sundin   1 top 10 vote of the Hart trophy (best finish 8th)
Bure     2 top 10 votes (best finish 3rd)
Forsberg 3 top 10 votes (1 win)
Fedorov 3 top 10 votes (1 win)
Lindros   5 top 10 votes (1 win)
Selanne 5 top 10 votes (best finish 3rd)
Sakic     6 top 10 votes (1 win)
Jagr       8 top 10 votes (1 win)

Guess how many players won the Hart and the Selke the same year on that list?
Hint: the list is short.

Posted by d ca on 03/19/19 at 12:49 AM ET

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Posted by d ca on 03/19/19 at 12:49 AM ET

I’m aware that I’m comparing Fedorov against younger players in that season range, and that it isn’t a fair comparison. That was the point. I am not trying to say that those players were necessarily better than Fedorov overall when you look at their entire careers, just that by the late 90s and early 00s they had surpassed him.

To restate it, my argument is that Fedorov was no longer a dominant NHL player by his late 20s. Many younger players (and even some of his contemporaries) had already surpassed him. Whereas Datsyuk in the same age range was likely still one of the 5 or so best forwards in the world despite giving up a lot of years to most of his competition.

Fedorov won a Hart Trophy, a Pearson, two Selkes, was a first team all star once and a second team all star once. That is a spectacular resume, certainly better than Datsyuk’s. But he had also earned all of them by the end of the 1995-96 season. Again, my point: Fedorov peaked higher, Datsyuk peaked longer.

Since you’ve questioned my objectivity—which is fair, by the way; we all have biases—let me respectfully question yours:

- You’re using Cup wins as a metric to rank skaters, which I find patently absurd. Hockey is a team game. Fedorov had Yzerman, Lidstrom, Shanahan, and many other great players to help him win those Cups. Surely he had a lot more opportunity than, say, Sundin, who led the Leafs in scoring for 12 out of 13 seasons with a bunch of garbage riding shotgun.

- You’re counting “top ten” finishes in Hart voting, which I think is more noise than signal. At that range a couple of random contrarian writers can make all the difference. Fedorov finished ninth in Hart voting in 2003; one random writer picked him No. 1, two more put him third, and two more put him fifth. No other votes. By contrast, Forsberg (who won that year) had a spread of 38-13-6-2-1. I don’t think there’s a statistical basis for arguing that finishing ninth in Hart voting means you must be the ninth best player in the league. (Incidentally, Fedorov finished fifth among centers in postseason all-star voting that season with no first place votes—and this was in BY FAR his best statistical season post-1996.)

- In your first post you cite Fedorov’s performance in a handful of short playoff seasons and even a single five-goal game as evidence of his dominance. Which in my opinion is cherry-picking small sample size data to an extreme degree. I could just as easily turn this around on you. Is Sam Gagner a dominant player because he’s had the only 8-point game in the NHL since the 80s? (No.) And Johan Franzen had 59 points (31 goals) in 51 games over three consecutive playoff years—a better stretch than Fedorov ever had. Does that mean Franzen is the better player? (Also no.)

- Maybe someone with a better memory (or Google Fu) can step in, but I certainly don’t recall Fedorov playing defense for as long as you do. More like 10-15 games to my recollection. Which would mean that it probably only cost him, at the absolute worst, ~10 points off his career totals (and probably more like 5 or 6). It’s barely a blip in the analysis.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/19/19 at 08:33 AM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

You guys should through the Original Russian #13 into the mix. Especially how proficient he was in the playoffs:

https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/k/kozlovy01.html

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 03/19/19 at 09:22 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

3 Stanley Cups and that team didn’t win another one without him.
Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 03/18/19 at 12:50 PM ET

I’m not trying to knock Fedorov, but I’m pretty sure the 2008 team won a cup without him.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 03/19/19 at 09:50 AM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 03/19/19 at 09:50 AM ET

That’s why I mentioned just the three cups. The Yzerman team didn’t win another cup without him.

Good correction, I was not clear. Thanks

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 03/19/19 at 09:58 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 03/19/19 at 09:50 AM ET

I hit enter too soon, forgot to add:

Video- Sportsnet’s Top 5 Russian Players Of All-Time In The NHL

Because I think using the right words is important, maybe I’m getting hung up on semantics. I guess I shouldn’t expect much out of media hype in the first place. This is a list of scorers. Should be top five Russia scorers, not best players. There’s been some top Russian players in the league that aren’t necessarily scorers. Well, maybe Datsyuk is the exception to the scoring list.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 03/19/19 at 10:04 AM ET

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This is a list of scorers. Should be top five Russia scorers, not best players. There’s been some top Russian players in the league that aren’t necessarily scorers. Well, maybe Datsyuk is the exception to the scoring list.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 03/19/19 at 10:04 AM ET

Under normal circumstances I’d agree with you, but I’m not sure there are any Russian defensemen,  goalies, or defensive-oriented players generally I’d rank ahead of any of the five guys on this list.

The best Russian-born NHL defender of all time is probably Sergei Zubov, or maybe Sergei Gonchar. After that maybe Andrei Markov? Alex Zhitnik? I’m not taking any of those guys ahead of Malkin, Bure, Datsyuk, Fedorov, or Ovechkin.

Among goalies, Bobrovsky might have an argument, but it’s still a tough one. Hard pass on Khabibulin or Nabokov. Vasilevskiy might get there, but not yet.

Aside from Bobrovsky the only other player that I can see having a real argument for being on this list (probably over Bure IMO) is Alex Mogilny, another scorer.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/19/19 at 11:43 AM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

I would add Vlady to the best russian defender list:

https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/k/konstvl01.html

Too short of a career, but one the best defensemen I have ever seen.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 03/19/19 at 12:17 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com