NHL History: 30 best players in the 21st century (Updated 2023)

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Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

30 best NHL players of the 21st century: 1. Sidney Crosby

Still, Sidney Crosby is the best player of this generation. He joined the league in 2005 and immediately made an impact. He scored 102 points in his rookie year. In his second year, he won the Hart Trophy after putting up a league-leading 120 points. He broke 100 points six times in his career, and if it weren’t for an injury history that took away basically two seasons, he might have more.

Crosby has over 1,500 points in his career and he’s forced the Penguins into contention every season of his career despite analysts calling for the team to fall off every year for the past five. He broke a point per game in every season of his career.

He does just about everything on the ice. He can steal the puck, he is an underrated hitter, he can skate through or around the defense, he’s innovating with the puck on his stick, and he does what it takes to put the Penguins in the win column.

While international play doesn’t push anyone higher on this list, we have to mention the “Golden Goal” just to show the impact Crosby has when compared to the best of this generation. Team Canada just watched Zach Parise put Team USA into overtime with a last-second goal in the gold medal game, but Crosby would not be denied. He had the puck on his stick for half a second and was able to be a scorching-hot Ryan Miller to win the game.

Crosby is the best player of this generation. Ovechkin has been great as a scorer, but what Crosby does with the rest of the game eeks him ahead. He might not score like Ovechkin or pass like Thornton, but he’s on the same level as them and puts them both together.

His skating is superb, and his puck handling is second to none. He is the total package. This is what scientists would build when trying to make the greatest hockey player. He does it so subtly, but that should not take away from his greatness.

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