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The Puck Stops Here

Top 50 Hockey Players

Now that I am essentially finished with this summer’s look at Corsi numbers, before I move onto some other sabermetric problems I would like to present my top 50 players.  This is something done by the Hockey News annually.  My list will differ from the Hockey News list and I will try to justify my selections especially when they significantly differ from those of THN.

When I rank the top 50 players, I ask myself which fifty players would I most want on my team going into the upcoming season.  I am not sure that is the same question asked by THN.  They do not specify exactly how they come up with their list and a different selection procedure might explain some discrepancies.

1. Alexander Ovechkin - The most logical reason that THN rates Crosby number one is that he is a Canadian and Ovechkin is an “evil foreigner”.  Ovechkin has been MVP more recently and came closer to MVP this year than Crosby (in fact he should have won).

2. Sidney Crosby - The second best player in the world benefits from his nationality and a Stanley Cup his team won to be number one on the THN list.

3. Duncan Keith - I think most people do not realize just how good his 2009/10 season was.  He looks like the best defenceman of the next several years to come.

4. Tomas Vokoun - He has consistently been the best goaltender in the NHL since the lockout.  THN didn’t even rank him on their list.  He has been hidden in Florida and been unable to get much playoff time in his career.  He is frequently overlooked in Vezina votes.  I think we may finally see a change to that when Vokoun probably leaves Florida as an unrestricted free agent next summer, if not before that in a trade.

5. Steve Stamkos - His breakthrough sophomore year rocketed him to tenth on the THN list.  I think he is an even better pick than that.  Stamkos has a very real chance of joining Ovechkin and Crosby atop the rankings in the years to come.

6. Zdeno Chara - One year removed from a Norris Trophy, THN had him at 37.  That seems ridiculously low to me.  I think he could have future Norris Trophies in him.

7. Roberto Luongo - He hasn’t made the jump to become the best goalie in the league as most would have predicted him to in 2007 or 2008.  He gets a lot of blame for the Canucks failure to have a deep playoff run despite being a gold medal winning goalie in the Olympics.  He is a very good bet to win or at least be a strong candidate for the Vezina Trophy this year and in the years to come.

8. Nicklas Lidstrom - He has been downgraded on this list for a few years due to advancing age.  At age 40, THN lists him at 17.  He has consistently outpaced the expectation of his slowdown with age and likely will do so again.

9. Henrik Sedin - He may be MVP, but there is no strong argument that he will do so again.  I wouldn’t bet on him to be a Hart Trophy nominee again, but he is a very good player.

10. Drew Doughty - He and Stamkos made huge improvements this past season.  I pick both a few positions above where THN picks them.  I think they are a bit slow to recognize young talents who are making rapid ascents.

11. Nicklas Backstrom - The best “second best forward” on his team in the NHL.

12. Evgeni Malkin - Most people do not realize how soft an offensive role he filled when he won the Art Ross in 2009.  Nevertheless he is a very good player, but not consistent Art Ross material.

13. Jonathan Toews - A Conn Smythe rocketed him up to number five on the THN list.  Despite his NHL accomplishments, I think some forget that he is yet to have a point per game regular season in his career, though it is a good guess that he will do that easily this year.

14. Ryan Miller - THN lists him at number three.  That is too high given the well-established level before this past season’s Vezina Trophy and strong Olympic performance.  He is a good goalie, but I do not see him as the NHL’s best.

15. Chris Pronger - The concern might be a minor off-season knee surgery, but it is likely nothing to fret about.

16. Daniel Sedin - A top point per game scorer this year, but he missed some time due to injury.  It is clear that Henrik Sedin deserves a higher rank due to his Hart and Art Ross Trophies, but it is debatable just how much lower he should be.  I drop both Sedins a bit further than THN.

17. Mike Green - The best offensive defenceman in hockey.  His defence is not nearly as poor as many caricature it to be, but it is the weakest of the defencemen ranked so far.  Nevertheless, his offence is enough that he could be the top defenceman in the league in win shares at some point.

18. Martin St Louis - Often overlooked because he plays in a weak market, but THN doesn’t make this mistake ranking him at 13th, which may be a bit high.

19. Dany Heatley - One of the best goal scorers in the NHL.  He is a player who might take a run at the Richard Trophy.  I think THN drops him a bit in their ranking due to San Jose’s perceived playoff failure and the unceremonious way he left Ottawa.

20. Ryan Getzlaf - A very good offensive player in a market that has been overlooked since they fell out of the playoff race.  Getzlaf is a little better than the 29th he gets on the THN list.

21. Henrik Lundqvist - He has been the driving force behind the Rangers for several years.  I think the team’s playoff miss dropped his ranking to 40th, which is unreasonably low.

22. Shea Weber - A very good young defenceman who is better than many realize since he plays in Nashville, which isn’t exactly the centre of the hockey media.

23. Eric Staal - He hasn’t replicated his 100 point season of 2005/06, but he is a far better defensive player than he was in those days. 

24. Pavel Datsyuk - He is a very good two-way player, who was a Hart Trophy nominee as recently as 2009 but he took a big step backward this season and I am not confident that he will bounce back to previous levels now that he is into his 30s.  THN disagrees and gives him the number four spot.

25. Zach Parise - The top player on the Devils, but i think his position as top scoring American player in the league makes him a bit overrated.  THN has him at 15.

26. Ilya Kovalchuk - I feel more obliged to comment on his recently declined contract than his ranking.  I hope he remains in the NHL next year.  Given his contract uncertainty, the KHL does remain as a possibility.

27. Henrik Zetterberg - Another very talented Red Wing forward.  Most likely he will outscore Datsyuk, but may not be quite as valuable.

28. Patrick Kane - A Stanley Cup goes a long way to raise a player’s ranking on the THN list.  They rank Kane at 12th place.  Kane was used in an offensive role with little defensive responsibility in 2009/10 and that counts against him a bit in my book.

29. Dan Boyle - To some degree he is Mike Green - lite.  His main skill is offence, but he cannot score on the level Green can.  His defence is not at the level of his offence, but it is above Green’s level by a bit.

30. Joe Thornton - He appears to beginning his decline phase after a Hall of Fame career where he led the league in scoring over the last decade.  He has a stigma attached to him due to his lack of Stanley Cup success which is largely unfair.

31. Jarome Iginla - Another player who is entering the decline phase of a Hall of Fame career.  I think he has a bit more left than THN does.  They rank him at 41.

32. Rick Nash - He is the man in Columbus, but has been unable to make the leap to one of the best players in the league that was predicted when he shared in the 2004 Richard Trophy.

33. Vincent LeCavalier - THN ranks him at 50, which is consistent with his failure of the last couple of years.  When a player can score 70 points in a “bad” year he must be a very good player.  I think the “new” Tampa Bay Lightning will be a place where he can return to form somewhat.

34. Anze Kopitar - He was the early season scoring leader and gets a bit of a higher ranking by THN for that.  They have him at 21

35. Marian Gaborik - THN has him at 18.  I think that is a bit high given that he remains a significant injury risk despite staying healthy most of last season.  He is a top player when healthy, but I don’t expect 76 games each season like he had last year.

36. Marian Hossa - He has had a good career to date, but he wasn’t one of the driving forces in his Stanley Cup win in 2010 and thus gets ranked behind those that were.

37. Ilya Bryzgalov - He gets too much credit for the Phoenix Coyotes Cinderella season.  He was considered a Hart Trophy candidate and is ranked 20th by THN.  Bryzgalov is a good goalie, but not quite at that level.

38. Brian Rafalski - He was omitted from the THN list.  I think he is underrated because he is the second best defenceman on his team.  THN usually rates fewer defencemen in their top 50 than is expected from the fact that about 30% of the NHL’s players are defencemen, so about 30% of this list should be defencemen too.

39. Patrick Marleau - The San Jose Sharks playoff failures have not led to an unreasonable downgrading of him on the THN list in my opinion.  He comes in at 42nd there.

40. Jason Spezza - This Senator is too talented to be left off of this list.  THN omitted him.

41. Miikka Kiprusoff - A very good goaltender who reversed a statistical decline last season. 

42. Brad Richards - THN has him at 28th.  I think that is a bit high.  Sure he had 91 points last year, but it follows a couple years that were a bit subpar.  I think his offensive output regresses a bit this season.

43. Marc Savard - Injuries kept him to 41 games last year.  As a result, THN omitted him, but I think he is worthy.

44. Andrei Markov - Injuries kept him to 45 games play last year, that and the general overlooking of defencemen on THN lists led to his omission.

45. Brenden Morrow -  He missed most of the 2008/09 season due to injury and only scored 45 points last year, but he is a very talented checker and I think his offense will still rebound.  THN disagrees and omits him.

46. Tyler Myers - Rookie of the year defenceman who looks ready to take another step forward in the future.

47. Mikko Koivu - Minnesota’s key player was overlooked by THN.  He is a strong two-way talent.

48. Alexander Semin - He is a player with talent to burn.  Sometimes his worth ethic is in question, though he has definitely been a success so far.  THN thinks more highly of him than I do rating him at 32nd.

49. Martin Brodeur - A Hall of Fame goalie who is into his decline phase.  THN ranks him at 26th with is a bit high given his age.  I think they are a overrating him in part due to a Vezina nomination that he won in 2010 on reputation more than any other reason.

50. Mike Richards - THN ranks him at 22nd, which seems a little high.  He is a very good two-way player who is overrated due to being in a big media market that made the Stanley Cup finals.  I do not see why he is much different from Mikko Koivu in his 2010/11 expectations.

Ranked by THN but not me:  Daniel Alfredsson, Alexandre Burrows, Mike Cammalleri, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Tuukka Rask

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Comments

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When I rank the top 50 players, I ask myself which fifty players would I most want on my team going into the upcoming season

That team would be very successful in the regular season, but I suspect you haven’t taken into account the fact that the Stanley Cup and President’s Trophy are different things.

In playoffs (on current evidence)

Crosby > Ovechkin (I prefer Ovechkin, he’s more spectacular to watch, he’s more interesting off the ice, but he just isn’t as effective a player)
Vokoun is almost completely unproven, but did get chances on a decent team in Nashville and never backstopped that team to a series win. I think you’ve powerfully overrated him here…
Datsyuk and Zetterberg should be higher for their two-way ability (and I’m not a Wings fan…)
Dan Boyle > Mike Green (which one did Steve Yzerman pick for the Olympics? There’s your clue as to who’s better - plus the Cup ring, and the fact that Boyle plays in the tougher Western Conference)

Otherwise not a bad list: of course, this kind of exercise is never going to produce anything other than profound disagreement. (As a Canucks fan, I reckon Kesler should scrape into the top 50, or at least top 55 - what on earth was Burrows doing in the THN list though? If a fifth Canuck gets in it should be Ehrhoff, not that he’s proven himself top 50 yet)

Posted by fcjbencard on 08/19/10 at 10:53 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

To defend my picks.

It isn’t right to give Crosby too much credit for a Stanley Cup win.  He didn’t actually play very well in the finals.  In seven games he had a goal and two assists.  In their playoff career Ovechkin has 40 points in 28 games for 1.43 points per game.  Crosby has 82 points in 62 games for 1.32 points per game.  Ovechkin has been more successful in the playoffs, though his team has not.

Tomas Vokoun has the best saves percentage in the league since the lockout (last five years) and he has it by a significant margin.  He is the best goalie in hockey.  Vokoun has played exactly one playoff series in his career.  It was in 2006 in Nashville and his team lost to San Jose.  To blame Vokoun for not having playoff success when he has only been on a team good enough to make the playoffs once is profoundly unfair.

Citing the Olympic pick as evidence that Dan Boyle is better than Mike Green is just as valid as claiming his Olympic pick means Patrice Bergeron is better than Steve Stamkos isn’t it?  I argue that it was a mistake to leave Green off the Olympic team.  He offered an offensive dimension from defence that nobody else in the world can.

Datsyuk is interesting.  You pick him because he has won Stanley Cups when he has only 76 points in 110 games.  That playoff scoring rate rivals Joe Thornton on a per game basis.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/19/10 at 11:24 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The most logical reason that THN rates Crosby number one is that he is a Canadian and Ovechkin is an “evil foreigner”.

That’s not very logical at all.  It may be a correct guess on their reason, but it’s certainly not logical.

His defence is not nearly as poor as many caricature it to be, but it is the weakest of the defencemen ranked so far.

Saying Mike Green is not as good at defense as Duncan Keith, Zdeno Chara, Drew Doughty, Nick Lidstrom, and Chris Pronger is something of a misleading understatement.  Mike Green’s defensive ability may not be horrible, but if it weren’t for his offensive ability being a great fit for Washington’s system, he’d easily be a 2nd-pair defenseman on most teams. 

Shea Weber, Dan Boyle, Brian Rafalski, Andrei Markov, and Tyler Myers are defenseman ranked behind him who all have better defensive ability than Mike Green (although you could argue that Rafalski is weaker defensively and helped significantly by his being paired with Lidstrom).  There easily remains as many as 10-15 defensemen in the league that don’t make your top-50 list (nor should they have) that have better defensive ability than Mike Green.  Saying he’s not as good defensively as the five best overall defensemen in hockey is an understatement.

To clarify, I’m not saying Green doesn’t belong where he does.  His offensive ability more than makes up for his defensive shortcomings, whether they’re unfairly caricatured or not.

It isn’t right to give Crosby too much credit for a Stanley Cup win.  He didn’t actually play very well in the finals

In that vein, it isn’t right to give Roberto Luongo too much credit for an Olympic Gold medal win.  He may have contributed more than Crosby did in those cup finals, but the common thought is that Canada won despite Luongo.  His play, especially in the final game, was very shaky.  I think he belongs lower on the list.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/19/10 at 11:55 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

THN said they put Crosby on top because he has become more of an all-around player.

Whatever the reasoning, they basically said you should expect to see him there for a long time to come.

Unlike Bettman, at least they come out and admit their man-crush.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 08/20/10 at 12:00 AM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

30. Joe Thornton - He appears to beginning his decline phase after a Hall of Fame career where he led the league in scoring over the last decade.  He has a stigma attached to him due to his lack of Stanley Cup success which is largely unfair.

Joe Thornton’s playoff statistics:

91 GP - 15G/50A/65PTS (.71 PPG) and a +/- -23.

I’d say the stigma of him being a Stanley Cup bust is very fair…especially considering his stats in the regular season (915 GP - 285G/646A/931PTS [1.02 PPG] and a +/- 131).

24. Pavel Datsyuk - He is a very good two-way player, who was a Hart Trophy nominee as recently as 2009 but he took a big step backward this season and I am not confident that he will bounce back to previous levels now that he is into his 30s.  THN disagrees and gives him the number four spot.

This is why people accuse you of not watching games, dude.  Because, if you did, you would have noticed that the injury bug bit the Wings this year, and it bit them HARD. 

Pav might not have had the best offensive year but a lot of that was impacted by guys like Zetterberg, Franzen, Holmstrom, Cleary and Filppula missing significant time with injuries (8, 55, 14, 18 and 27 games respectively).  That’s not even taking into account the effect the injuries to the players I mentioned above and those suffered by defensemen like Kronwall and Ericsson on defense (34 and 20 games) had on the game of not only Pavel, but also the Red Wings as a whole.  When you lose 307 man games to injury in one season, your game plan tends to change drastically. 

Corsi numbers probably don’t show that, though…right?

32. Rick Nash - He is the man in Columbus, but has been unable to make the leap to one of the best players in the league that was predicted when he shared in the 2004 Richard Trophy.

It’d help if he had some, you know…help.

12. Evgeni Malkin - Most people do not realize how soft an offensive role he filled when he won the Art Ross in 2009.  Nevertheless he is a very good player, but not consistent Art Ross material.

He had a down year, obviously - took too many penalties, was a +/- -6 and looked disinterested at times (among other things) - but he was also plagued by injuries, missing 15 games, and less-than-stellar linemates (Fedotenko, Talbot, Ponikarovsky, etc.).  All of this…and he was STILL more than a point per game guy (1.15, to be exact - which would translate into 94 points over 82 games and tied him for 6th in the league (he was 19th, as it was).  So, even though he wasn’t up to his 2007-2009 standards, he was still pretty damn good offensively.

I’m obviously a bit biased, but I would definitely take him over a few of the guys you listed above him.

2. Sidney Crosby - The second best player in the world benefits from his nationality and a Stanley Cup his team won to be number one on the THN list.

Sidney Crosby indeed benefits from leading his team to a Stanley Cup, because that’s what the best players in the world do.  I think nationality has little to do with his placement on the list.  His skill and all around game do.

Crosby plays in all situations.  He’s become one of the best face off men in the league (taking and winning the most in the league this year;  also had the 11th best % in the league at 55.9).  He scores goals - and not always the “pretty” ones.  He makes everyone around him better.  All while playing with far - FAR - less talented linemates.

Give me Crosby over Ovechkin any day of the week.  Twice on Tuesdays.  Again, though, I’m biased.

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 08/20/10 at 12:48 AM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

27. Henrik Zetterberg

Jesus Homer.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 08/20/10 at 01:01 AM ET

Avatar

In response

. You pick out the scoring stats for Crosby, and fair enough they aren’t as flashy as Ovechkin’s. But in a way, that kind of proves my point, which is that Crosby is the more complete all-round hockey player. There are jobs on the ice - taking a big faceoff, shutting down good opposition players (though this is mainly Jordan Staal’s job, and there’s another player who could perhaps get into the top 50) - that are beyond Ovechkin but not Crosby. And although less interesting, at the same time Crosby’s personality has been proven to have leadership qualities that Ovie, whatever the letter on his chest, has not yet convincingly demonstrated.

. Vokoun missed the 2006 playoffs through injury - he played in 2007 (behind a better Preds team than the previous year in fact). He had a .902 save percentage, not exactly stellar. Though very impressive at the Olympics this year, he was nevertheless outshone by Ryan Miller. The thing about save percentage is that it is purely a regular season statistic, bearing little relevance to playoff goaltending (where it really matters). That’s because, while in the regular season opponents may have a couple of days to scout a goalie and one game to exploit his weaknesses, in the playoffs you have lots more opportunities to expose a goaltender and take advantage of weak spots (prime example - Chicago’s domination of Luongo - Hawks players have talked about how they deliberately targeted him (a) physically on the first shot, and then (b) in close for rebounds.) For me, Miller has proven himself in regular season and the playoffs as the best in the business, getting Buffalo and Team USA to places they had no chance otherwise of getting to. Vokoun has taken Florida… to Dmitri Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson.

. That’s a cheeky analogy you draw there. Bergeron was chosen over Stamkos because he was judged to be a better #4 centre, not a better player objectively. Boyle and Green, however, are both offensive-minded defensemen - so the comparison is somewhat fairer. Green may be the best defenceman in the world offensively, but that is only one dimension - Yanic Perreault was the best faceoff man in the NHL for years, but that didn’t make him an Allstar (well, apart from in 2007…), or a better player than say Sergei Fedorov. Boyle is a better all-round player than Green.

. Again with the points… but I had argued that Datsyuk belongs higher because of his all-round, 2-way ability. You can use him to shut down the top lines of opponents, unlike Thornton, because of his anticipation, his masterful stickwork, and his commitment to use these talents on defense. Also, like Thornton, those playoff scoring numbers are misrepresentative, taking into account time when both players were seeing few playoff minutes in the early years of their careers (fwiw Datsyuk has 64 points in 73 playoff games since the lockout); as you argued, the stigma attached to Thornton’s playoff performance is unfair anyway.

Posted by fcjbencard on 08/20/10 at 01:26 AM ET

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I think you put the Sharks players in the wrong order.  I’ve watched almost every game of the last few years and I really think Marleau is the best overall player on the team and, at least last year, clearly the most important.  He can skate as well as anyone, he can finish, and he plays a solid two-way game.  His skill set is impressive and a case can be made that he never quite became the player many thought he would be, yet he is still damn good.  Clearly losing anyone from that HTML line would be a major blow, but with the emergence of Pavelski and the development of Couture I really think the Sharks could more easily withstand an injury to Thornton or Heatley than Marleau.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/20/10 at 02:32 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Interesting list, thanks.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 08/20/10 at 10:16 AM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

So, Luongo gets credit for winning a gold medal even though he allowed the tying goal with less than a minute left in regulation and Crosbys contributions aren’t that great even though he scored the winning goal?

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 08/20/10 at 10:28 AM ET

GrahamWIIM's avatar

Didn’t Roberto Luongo have the best save percentage in hockey when he was with the Panthers? I seem to recall everyone saying that once he got on a decent team, then he’d really show how good he was. Well, here he is on a decent Canucks team, and he hasn’t gotten his team past the second round yet. I also seem to recall Vokoun being behind a better team in Nashville and unable to get them in the playoffs or win.

Oh, and Vokoun has been to the playoffs twice. In 2004 he was the starting goalie for the Predators when they lost to the Red Wings in the first round. Just an FYI.

Posted by GrahamWIIM from Chicago via Toronto on 08/20/10 at 11:01 AM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

So Eric Staal, who scored 70 meaningless points last season, is better than Datsyuk and Zetterberg?

Talk about hating for hating’s sake.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 08/20/10 at 11:32 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Chris

It is hating for hating’s sake to call Eric Staal’s points meaningless.

It is obvious that I hate the Detroit Red wings given that I pick four of their players in this top 50 and THN only picks three.  Two of my four wing picks are ranked higher on my list than on the THN one.  Realistically, I think the problem is your paranoia.

Staal is a very good two-way player who is younger than Datsyuk or Zetterberg (who are two-way players as well).  If he gets the same point total as they do with the quality of linemates he has in Carolina, I think he will have been the better player and that is what I predict for the upcoming season.

Amerinadian

You are right.  Vokoun has been in the playoffs twice.  Hockeydb which is usually reliable misses the 2004 one.  However, I wouldn’t want to throw out hundreds of games of success in favor of a couple of handfuls of games some of which are more than half a decade old.

Steve

Luongo gets credit for Canada’s gold as does Crosby and everyone else involved.  Crosby gets credit for winning the Stanley Cup as does everyone else who did that.  The question is how much credit.  I think many look at the Pittsburgh cup as being a big Crosby accomplishment nd that is false.  Those same people look at Luongo and say he never won anything. The Olympics clearly show that is false.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/20/10 at 12:39 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Those same people look at Luongo and say he never won anything. The Olympics clearly show that is false.

If Vancouver had the same level of talent in front of him that Team Canada did, they would have dragged his ass to a Stanley Cup victory by now.  His name likely would be an afterthought to the Conn Smythe voting in that situation just because goalies always get some level of consideration. 

But, you’re right.  I’ll amend the common quip about Luongo to say that he’s never won anything where he played a major positive factor.  He passively won a gold medal for Canada by not losing it for them (although it looks like he was trying to at times).  Being a passenger on a winning squad doesn’t grant a lot of clout nor should it grant him a ranking as hockey’s 2nd-best current goaltender.  I’d easily grant Ryan Miller a space in front of Luongo.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/10 at 12:59 PM ET

GrahamWIIM's avatar

Amerinadian

You are right.  Vokoun has been in the playoffs twice.  Hockeydb which is usually reliable misses the 2004 one.  However, I wouldn’t want to throw out hundreds of games of success in favor of a couple of handfuls of games some of which are more than half a decade old.

Fair enough. I just figured that if you were going to use his lack of experience in the playoffs as an argument for his greatness, it would make sense to know what his playoff experience actually consisted of.

I won’t pretend that I agree with you that Vokoun is the best goalie in hockey. I would like to see him do something beyond racking up big save percentages while playing on one of the worst teams in the league. Like I said earlier, Luongo put up similar numbers while playing in Florida; maybe there’s something the Panthers are doing to develop good goalies.

Speaking of Luongo, the debate about whether he’s “won” anything or not will continue until he wins a Cup. You argue that he doesn’t get enough credit for Canada winning gold while Crosby gets too much for the Penguins winning the Cup. This is going to physically hurt me to do this, but Crosby had much more to do with the Pens winning in 2009 than Luongo did with Canada winning in 2010. You can’t just take the Finals and look at that separately; if you did that, then Toews didn’t deserve the Conn Smythe this year. You have to look at that playoff run as a whole, and Crosby was the driving force together with Malkin. Look at his performance in the series against Washington that year; if Crosby does not play up to the level that he did, then the Pens don’t even make it out of the second round and there is no Cup to speak of. I agree that Crosby was a non-factor in the Finals, but you can’t ignore his contributions in getting them there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a shower to wash this feeling off me.

Posted by GrahamWIIM from Chicago via Toronto on 08/20/10 at 02:16 PM ET

Ozzie30's avatar

Datsyuk is interesting.  You pick him because he has won Stanley Cups when he has only 76 points in 110 games.  That playoff scoring rate rivals Joe Thornton on a per game basis

The big difference is Datsyuk plays big minutes against the other teams top line and or pairing.

Datsyuk’s Playoff +/- +22

Thornton’s Playoff +/- -23

Posted by Ozzie30 on 08/20/10 at 02:21 PM ET

jibblescribbits's avatar

Being a passenger on a winning squad doesn’t grant a lot of clout nor should it grant him a ranking as hockey’s 2nd-best current goaltender.

FWIW: It’s probably going to get Osgood into the hall of fame.

As an aside, Paul Stastny and Anze Kopitar have been essentially equal their entire time in the league. Paul Stastny is better defensively too. I realize Kopitar’s Corsi is better but his Offensive zone start is 51.2 and Stastny’s was 45.2.

Not to say Kopitar doesn’t belong on this list, but he and Stastny should probably be right next to each other.

Posted by jibblescribbits on 08/20/10 at 02:59 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Jibblescribbits

I am impressed by your constant pushng for Colorado players on blogs all across the blogosphere.  Paul Stastny is a player who does not miss out on this list by very much.  The problem with Stastny (using Kopitar as a comparable) is that Satny is far less durable.  In the past three years Kopitar has not missed any games and Stastny has missed about 60 games That knocks him out of a top 50 for now.

Ozzie

Your +/- comparison does favor Datsyuk.  Of course there are significant team effects there.  Detroit was outscoring their opponents and winning Stanley Cups in that period and San Jose wasn’t.  Nevertheless, Datsyuk’s playoff record and his dropoff last season are reasons to suspect that his #4 rating by THN is too high and my ranking is closer to reality.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/20/10 at 03:54 PM ET

Ozzie30's avatar

I that case, please refer to flashtastic’s post.

Posted by Ozzie30 on 08/20/10 at 03:58 PM ET

jibblescribbits's avatar

I was surprised by his omission. Especially in favor of guys like Spezza, Morrow, Savard, and Koivu.

FWIW I think you have Richards severely underrated as well.

Posted by jibblescribbits on 08/20/10 at 04:13 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

THN omits Paul Stastny as well - so there is some uniformity in the opinion that he doesn’t make a top 50.  For what its worth, he is the highest scoring player in 2009/10 omitted from either list.  I do not trust that he will be able to play 81 games this year given his proven lack of durability and thus his point total will likely drop next season due to a drop in games played.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/20/10 at 04:19 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If Datsyuk’s playoff point totals hurt him, why don’t Zetterberg’s playoff point totals help him more?  97 career playoff games, 91 points +33 rating, and a Conn Smythe trophy.

Henrik Sedin’s career point-per-game pace is 0.786, Daniel Sedin’s is 0.776, Zetterberg’s is 0.939

Amazingly, Zetterberg’s playoff point-per-game pace is the exact same at 0.939 while Henrik’s 0.677 is and Daniel’s is 0.647

The Sedins are about two weeks older than Henrik Zetterberg and, according to you, each of them plays on a line with one of the 16-best players in all of hockey and the both play in front of the 7th-best player and 2nd-best goaltender in all of hockey.  Zetterberg plays (although less consistently) with players #8, 24, and 38, but that’s a lot of team correction to make that huge a difference in their output.

I posit that Zetterberg should be ahead of both of the Sedins and, since you say Datsyuk is likely more valuable than Zetterberg, that he should also be ahead of the Sedins.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/10 at 04:25 PM ET

jibblescribbits's avatar

I guess I don’t see how he’s injury prone.

I mean he played 81 last season, and the season before broke his forearm and had appendicitis. It’s not like he has another appendix that’s going to burst. But he’s had 2 seasons where he’s played 80+ games, and had 2 rather freak injuries.

Savard had 4 straight seasons where he played less than 60 games, and then went on to play 70+ for the next three.

I just feel injuries are pretty random occurrences, and it’s one of those cases where past occurrences don’t predict future results. I don’t think Stastny is any more likely to be injured than any other player, especially since he hasn’t had an injury that increases his chances of re-injuring, like blowing out a knee or concussions.

Posted by jibblescribbits on 08/20/10 at 04:38 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

JJ

Both Sedins had far better seasons than either Zetterberg or Datsyuk last year.  Clearly they haven’t done so in years further back in the past than that.  Nevertheless, when I project to next year I think that most likely the Sedins will continue to do better than either Detroit forward as they did last year.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/20/10 at 05:34 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

17 spots better?

What’s your basis on that being the most likely occurrence?  Is it based solely on last year?

What is your projection for each player next year and how do you correct for the team effect?

The likelihood is that both pairs will have similar numbers in the upcoming season barring injury.  Datsyuk and Zetterberg are both better defensively and Zetterberg is the best performer of the four in the playoffs by far.  The Sedins are good, but they’re not better than Datsyuk and Zetterberg and they’re definitely not so much better to warrant placing the lowest ranked Sedin eight spots ahead of the highest ranked Detroit forward.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/10 at 06:02 PM ET

scotts0's avatar

You state that the Sedin’s had a better year than Zetterberg and Datsyuk, yes?  Zetterberg missed 2 weeks last season, and was playing with sometimes 3rd and 4th line players due to the Wings getting slammed what seemed like nightly with injuries.  Through all that, he still had 70 points, which was the exact same point total that Datsyuk had while playing 6 more games.  I would without a doubt say that Hank is more valuable than Datsyuk because everytime the Wings have a defensive zone faceoff in the low minutes of the game, Hank is taking it.  Everytime the Wings are on the PK and absolutely can not afford to allow a goal, Hank is out there busting his ass shutting the team down.  Perfect example, Hank’s penalty kill shift against the Penguins in what was it, game 4 of the Finals 3 years ago?  The one where he saved 1 or 2 empty nets by neutralizing Crosby’s stick?  For mine, and I’m sure Mike Babcock’s money, Zetterberg is more valuable.  As much as flashy players like Datsyuk and the Sedin’s get noticed, there is always a guy like Henrik Zetterberg who fans/players/coaches know are better. 

And I mean, it’s pretty much common knowledge that when Lidstrom finally hangs them up, Zetterberg is going to have the C.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 08/20/10 at 08:00 PM ET

Tony's avatar

I knew they were good players before, but watching both Datsyuk and Zetterberg shut down Crosby in the Finals sold me in terms of their two-bay beastiness….

Both of them are just sick….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 08/23/10 at 09:44 AM ET

Avatar

I knew they were good players before, but watching both Datsyuk and Zetterberg shut down Crosby in the Finals sold me in terms of their two-bay beastiness….

Both of them are just sick….

You realize that was 2+ years ago and that those guys are 32 and about to turn 30 respectively, right?  Maybe last year’s decline was due to injuries, but it’s also possible they’ve reached the age where they will be battling injuries more often.  Cue the Red Wing fan outrage.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 01:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

You realize that was 2+ years ago and that those guys are 32 and about to turn 30 respectively, right?  Maybe last year’s decline was due to injuries, but it’s also possible they’ve reached the age where they will be battling injuries more often.  Cue the Red Wing fan outrage.

No outrage here, just a disagreement.  Zetterberg has a history of nagging little injuries, but their decline in production last year had more to do with team injuries (to players younger than the team’s average age, mind you) than it did to do with injuries to Datsyuk and Zetterberg.  For large stretches, Detroit had guys on their 2nd line that will be fighting for a spot on the fourth line this season.

I’m not saying that it’s not possible that these two have hit their apex and are now declining, just that I think they each have a few good years in them.  Datsyuk at 32 should be able to put up 100 points.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/23/10 at 01:26 PM ET

Tony's avatar

You realize that was 2+ years ago and that those guys are 32 and about to turn 30 respectively, right?  Maybe last year’s decline was due to injuries, but it’s also possible they’ve reached the age where they will be battling injuries more often.  Cue the Red Wing fan outrage.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 12:14 PM ET

June 2009 is 2+ years ago ??

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 08/23/10 at 01:49 PM ET

Avatar

June 2009 is 2+ years ago ??

Didn’t they lose that series?

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 01:51 PM ET

Tony's avatar

I think not….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 08/23/10 at 01:52 PM ET

Avatar

I think not….

I think so…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Stanley_Cup_Finals

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 01:54 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Oh crap, I misunderstood who you were asking about… Yes, the Wings lost, and naturally I love that aspect of the discussion….

But that was one year ago, not two….

That still doesn’t eliminate the fact both of them are outstanding two-way players at this stage of their respective careers….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 08/23/10 at 02:00 PM ET

Avatar

I’m not saying that it’s not possible that these two have hit their apex and are now declining, just that I think they each have a few good years in them.  Datsyuk at 32 should be able to put up 100 points.

They can definitely still be productive but they might not be able to carry the team by themselves anymore, especially with Lidstrom and Rafalski getting a little gray in the beard.  And there’s no way Datsyuk will have his first 100+ pt season after age 30.  Not saying he isn’t good, or can’t still be good, but he’s never done it before and the team isn’t any better than it’s been in the past.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 02:01 PM ET

Avatar

But that was one year ago, not two….

You said you saw them shut down Crosby, and I guess they did in that series even though he scored some points, but they couldn’t contain Malkin at all and lost the series so I’m not sure how that bolster’s your argument for their two way prowess.  When you said you saw them shut down Crosby I naturally assumed you were talking about the year they beat the Pens in the finals, which was June 2008, which was over 2 years ago.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 02:03 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

there’s no way Datsyuk will have his first 100+ pt season after age 30.  Not saying he isn’t good, or can’t still be good, but he’s never done it before and the team isn’t any better than it’s been in the past.

We’ll see.  He played a lot more on the penalty kill in the two consecutive 97-point campaigns.  I think he has a good shot at it with the depth the Wings are going into the season with this year.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/23/10 at 02:10 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Here’s how Crosby and Malkin did…

In the ‘07-‘08 Finals (6 games, Wings win), Crosby scored 2 goals and 4 assists, Malkin had 1 goal and 2 assists….

In the ‘08-‘09 Finals (7 games, Pens win), Crosby scored 1 goal and 2 assists, Malkin scored 2 goals and 6 assists…..

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 08/23/10 at 02:15 PM ET

Avatar

We’ll see.  He played a lot more on the penalty kill in the two consecutive 97-point campaigns.  I think he has a good shot at it with the depth the Wings are going into the season with this year.

If he couldn’t do it with Hossa at 29/30 he’s not going to do it without Hossa at 32+.  Sorry.  The Great One had his last 100pt season at 32/33 and I dare say he was a bit better than Datsyuk.  It’s rare to see anyone go over 100pts after 30, and it’s almost unprecedented for someone to reach a new career high at that point.  Case in point Mario’s last 100pt season came when he was 31/32, and while injuries certainly played a major role in his career part of my point is that injuries start to play a bigger part in almost everyone’s career once they reach age 30.  To score 100pts, especially in today’s game you need teammates and linemates who can score and get you a few points you didn’t really earn, and even more than that you need to be healthy.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 02:18 PM ET

Avatar

In the ‘07-’08 Finals (6 games, Wings win), Crosby scored 2 goals and 4 assists, Malkin had 1 goal and 2 assists….

In the ‘08-’09 Finals (7 games, Pens win), Crosby scored 1 goal and 2 assists, Malkin scored 2 goals and 6 assists…..

Interesting they seemed to have much more problems with the bigger, stronger, and more physical Malkin the second time around, when they were 1 year older and 1 year’s worth of playoff games more tired.  You’re kind of helping me prove my point.  You also have to take into account that in 07-08 the Pens had Hossa, and in 08-09 the Wings had him.

Posted by RoneFace on 08/23/10 at 02:22 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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