When Ovechkin and Crosby joined the NHL 10 years ago, they were considered generational talents. They were going to be the best players in the league by leaps and bounds and have definitely lived up to expectations. It is very interesting to see how many fans of the game forget that even though these players are still good, they are not the cream of the crop any longer. They are in their upper 20’s and in today’s game with the speed and skill, they will be able to play another 10 years each, but their production will not be as steady as it has been.
Through roughly 15 games of the NHL we see Ovechkin in the top ten in points and fifth in goals. Crosby is 139th in points as of this post. Many people speculate as to why this is, but it’s pretty simple. Crosby, though he was and probably still is the face of the NHL, hasn’t so much fallen off as the guys that are coming behind him are getting better.
For the last ten years, Crosby and Ovechkin have always been compared. It is undoubtedly comparing apples to oranges in terms of style of play, perception of attitude, and hockey sense. Crosby was viewed as the team player with a sense for the game. He had great hands, was strong with the puck and was a great leader.
Ovechkin is seen by most as an arrogant player. He has been suspended multiple times for illegal contact, though he is one of the most prolific goal scorers in the history of the NHL. Some may think that is bold statement, but he could catch and surpass Gretzky’s goal mark. It will not be an easy task and he will need another 10-12 years of scoring 30-40 goals a season, but I still think he has a few 50 goal seasons left in him.
Whenever anyone asks me who I would pick if I had to build a team right now, I would still choose Ovechkin every time. He has not won a Stanley Cup, but the guy is gamer. He plays a physical game and he shows up every day ready to put work in. Yes, he forgot to set his alarm, or whatever, but that was a mistake. Not taking anything away from Crosby, I think at the end of their careers people will look back and finally give Ovechkin the credit he deserves.
Coming back to the original point, I don’t think these two players are the top in the game any longer. It is clear to see that through the last 100 games guys like Kane, Sequin and Jamie Benn are the front-runners as the best players in the league.
Also this year, eerily ten years later, the league has seen two more generational talents enter the NHL in Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid. The numbers that McDavid were putting up were phenomenal considering his slow start, however, I think like Crosby he will be more prone to injury than Eichel. I think Eichel is often overlooked as when you watch him skate, he skates very upright and looks like he isn’t putting the effort in. This is far from the truth though as he makes his stride work for him and is quicker and more powerful than he appears. He doesn’t have McDavid explosion, but is not a terrible skater.
My prediction is this, Eichel will be the next Ovechkin and McDavid the next Crosby. They will both be superstars, however, McDavid will become the poster boy of the NHL. Eichel will get the job done and has a cocky demeanor to him, much like Ovechkin, however, the resemblance doesn’t end there. Eichel will be a pure goal scorer and will be the leader that will take the Sabres to the playoffs.
We have covered two generations of players. The upper 20’s guys and the teenagers. The real emphasis should be placed on the age bracket in between. The Kane’s, Sequin’s, Benn’s and Toffoli’s are hungry and ready to enter the stratosphere of the elite players. Let’s stop talking so much about Sid’s slump and instead praise these ‘in-betweeners.’ These guys are the current stars of the league and they will be until McDavid and Eichel log their time and gain the experience to take them to that elite level.
What are your thoughts, are Crosby and Ovechkin still elite? Will McDavid and Eichel claim the vacated thrones?