It may seem like I’ve been talking about Steve Stamkos a lot, but it is hard not too because he has emerged as one of the premier players in the NHL. Now typically the question has been Crosby or Ovechkin, but Stamkos has put his name in the mix. I clearly have a favorite, but I want break down the pros and cons of each player before I reveal my opinion.
Let’s start with the new guy. In 2009-2010 Stamkos recorded 51 goals in 82 games and showed that he was a force to be reckon with. In the 2010-2011 season, Stamkos continues to score goals at breakneck speed. Stamkos has 20 goals in 21 games, which means he is scoring at nearly a goal-per-game pace and he boasts a solid 15 assists as well. The 20 year old Stamkos is tied for the league lead in points with fellow running mate Sidney Crosby, but has the clear lead in goals. Stamkos does have the benefit of playing with superstar playmaker Martin St. Louis, who is having a great season as well. Stamkos has undeniable skill and he has a monster shot, but does he have the star power that Ovechkin and Crosby have? He isn’t the flashiest player and he also doesn’t have quite the all-around game that both Ovechkin and Crosby have. Stamkos is reminiscent of a young Brett Hull, which of course isn’t a bad thing, but Hull wasn’t the flashiest player in the league nor did he have a great all-around game– in 1,269 games the superb sniper only finished with a unflattering 23 +/-.
He isn’t called “Alex the Great” for nothing. Ovechkin is fun to watch– whether it’s him dangling a defender, rippin’ a shot top corner or laying a monster hit, there is no doubt that Oveckin is the most entertaining hockey player today. Since entering the league in 2005, Ovechkin has averaged roughly 54 goals a season. If that number doesn’t grab your attention then you must be emotionless. Also, as of today Oveckin is 5th in the league with 26 points. I wasn’t on the Oveckin bandwagon at first. I thought he was reckless and selfish, but no one can deny the amount of passion that he gives to the game and that is something to root for. Despite his talent, there is one thing that raises some questions– his linemates. Ovechkin has the pleasure of playing along some of the most talented linemates in the league. The Capitals 1st line of Oveckin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin is possibly the most dangerous line in hockey. Compare this to the less impressive Pittsburgh line of Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz or even to some extent Stamkos, St. Louis and Steve Downie, and it takes away just a little bit of what Ovechkin is doing. I’m not saying that what Ovechkin has done isn’t impressive, but he is working with 2 of the most gifted players in the NHL.
Oh, he’s a whiner. Oh, he’s soft. That is what most anti-Crosbians have to say about the superstar. Granted, there are times when Crosby has been known to whine, but what hockey player hasn’t? And many are quick to forget about one of the toughest and selfless acts any hockey player has done and that is when Crosby played with a broken foot in the 2006-2007 playoffs. Despite the criticism, Crosby has managed to average a staggering 1.4 points-per-game over 5 seasons– including the 22 games this year thus far. Also, Crosby showed that he was much more than a playmaker when he tied Steven Stamkos with 51 goals in the 2009-2010 season. I also mentioned before, Crosby by far plays on the weakest line out of the 3. Both Dupuis and Kunitz have less than impressive numbers and after Malkin, the Penguins have no real threat on offense. Compare that to the Capitals and the Lighting and you’ll see a team that really relies on their star player. On top of Crosby’s offensive ability, you also have a player who is pretty gifted in his own zone and is often looked upon to play on the penalty kill. Ultimately, there is no denying Crosby is a talented playmaker, but the question is whether or not he can keep up his newly found sniper status going forward. In the 2010-2011 season he is second with 15 goals, but is well behind leader Stamkos.
I’ll keep this short and sweet. My pick is Sidney Crosby. I think Crosby is the best all-around hockey player and he can play on any line and shine. Ovechkin is nipping at his heels, but I think many are fooled by his flashy-ness when making their decision. As for Stamkos, I think he is a true talent, but I don’t think he has the star power that both Crosby and Ovechkin have; however, Stamkos is really making a name for himself.
Thank you for reading my column and of course all photos are courtesy of yardbarker.com. Please leave some feedback on who you think the best is in the comments section. I would love to hear from you guys. You can follow me at Sabrenoise.com or you can email me at email@example.com. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and see you next week for another installment of Eastern Conference Echoes.