by Mike Chen on 10/01/08 at 05:33 PM ET
In 1998, Mike Modano was in the prime of his career and had fully transformed from a free-wheeling scorer into a dependable team leader that scored while killing penalties. Modano only played 52 games in the 97-98 campaign but still put up 59 points—a high points-per-game clip during the Dead Puck era—and tallied an additional 14 in 17 playoff games.
Still, scoring wasn’t why THN put Modano as high as he was back in 1998. After a few years under Ken Hitchcock, Modano reeled in his scoring style to become an all-around player, a guy that could be counted on for face-off wins, a strong penalty kill, or even matching up against the opponent’s top line. Modano brought together the total package of speed, skill, and smarts. While he was a game changer, Modano still could never contend for the title of best player in the game, and his #8 ranking here captures speedy #9 at his peak.
In the 10 years since then, Modano has fallen off any rational person’s top-50 list though he remains a valuable contributor to the Dallas Stars. He’s essentially a third-line center now behind Mike Ribiero and Brad Richards, though his speed and skill are still good enough to put up 50-60 points in a season. At age 38, that’s definitely not a bad thing.
On the flip side, this year’s #8 slot goes to Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. With that in mind, the next logical question is whether you’d have 2008 Jarome Iginla or 1998 Mike Modano in your lineup. I have a hard time arguing against taking Iginla over Modano.
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