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10 Years Ago: THN’s Top 50, #5

We’re halfway through the big countdown of The Hockey News 1998-99 Top 50 players, along with a comparison to their 2008-09 counterparts. Here’s the list so far:

10: Keith Tkachuk/Dany Heatley
9: Chris Pronger/Evgeni Malkin
8: Mike Modano/Jarome Iginla
7: Eric Lindros/Roberto Luongo
6: Nicklas Lidstrom/Nicklas Lidstrom

At #5, we’ve got one of the most prolific players of the 1990s and one of the best players in Russian hockey history: Sergei Fedorov.

The 1990s were the decade of Sergei Fedorov—post-season awards, Stanley Cups, Anna Kournikova, even spots in Nike commercials. And in 1998, Fedorov considered by The Hockey News as the #5 player in the league. Still, to have Fedorov ranked so high considering that going into that season he was on a marked decline.

while Fedorov continued to consistently perform in the playoffs, his points per game went from a precipituos drop between the 1995-96 season and 1996-97 season and beyond. In 95-96, Fedorov was coming off his sixth consecutive season with better than a point per game. The season after that, even though Fedorov won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, he had his first less-than-a-point-per-game average since his rookie year. And after that, he never quite recovered (except for the 02-03 season).

In 97-98, Fedorov was a contract holdout for most of the season, and after the offer-sheet incident with Carolina’s Jim Rutherford, he put up 17 points in 21 games. While Fedorov remained strong in other aspects of the game, including faceoffs and defensive play, his offensive touch seemed to disappear. There was no doubt that Fedorov was still a good player but he couldn’t be considered one of the absolute best anymore, and that makes his selection at #5 a tricky one.

In contrast, the 2008-09 pick is Vincent Lecavalier, a player who’s at the peak of his game even though it took a few years for him to really evolve and mature. As with my Mike Modano/Jarome Iginla comparison, is there anyone out there who would take 98-99 Fedorov over 08-09 Lecavalier? I doubt it.

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: sergei+fedorov, vincent+lecavalier

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