Sunday, April 26, 2009

My favourite, Stud NHL Players

I don't know how interesting or relevant any of you will find this, but here is my bias list of the top 10 players in the game. And, no I won't include my hero Nik Antropov, and I'll try to not be bias as much as I can in making this list.

1. Alexander Ovechkin

AO combines size, speed, agility, toughness, scoring touch, and playmaking ability, making him the obvious number 1. I doubt anyone out there would disagree with this pick. What I like about Ovechkin is that he has the soft hands and creativity to beat a defensman one on one, but he's so hard to play because his preference is to typically freeze the defensman and take a shot. His shot is unreal. He can also skate right through an opposing player, a la Eric Lindros circa 1994.

2. Jarome Iginla

Might have put him a bit lower before these playoffs, but he's reminded me of how great he is. I didn't get a chance to watch a lot of Iggy this season, but when you watch a Flames game you realize how truly unbelievable this man is. He, like Ovechkin can change a game with a big hit or a big goal. He's rugged, but also has the speed and soft hands to walk out of the corner. Jarome Iginla has the make up of a blue collar kind of grinder, who scraps, with the talent of an NHL scoring champ. I love Jarome Iginla.

3. Niklas Lidstrom

Who should win the Norris trophy this year? Well a lot of people would argue Mike Green of Washington deserves it with his 30+ goals and 70+ points. But come playoff time, Green has been almost a non factor in the New York series, while the always amazing Niklas Lidstrom continues to run the show and control every game he plays in. Lidstrom could be argued as the #1 most valuable player in the league. His instincts are something that can't be taught and his skill is world class.

4. Roberto Luongo

First off, this guy is amazing. Second, he is consistant. There are lots of NHL goalies who have the ability to steal a game, but Luongo can do it almost nightly. Don't kid yourself, he is the reason Vancouver went on that unlikely run from playoff fringe team, to division champs. When he's on his game, which is pretty much always, he only gives up tip ins, or cross ice one-timers. His rebounds are controlled, and he blocks a lot of passes. He is a game changer.

5. Pavel Datsyuk

Consistant 90-100 point player. Consistant nominee for the Selke trophy as the games best defensive forward. How valuable is Datsyuk? Skill wise I would argue that he is the #1 most skilled player in the NHL. His hands and creativity are unmatched. And remarkably, for all his fanciness, he throws big hits! Unbelievable talent and unreal player, with the heart and drive of a champion. Who ever said Russian's don't care like Canadians do, hasn't seen Datsyuk.

6. Evgeni Malkin

Another Russian snipe show. When you lead the NHL in scoring, a year after finishing 2nd, its kind of hard to not be considered a top 10 guy in the league. Malkin combines size, speed, and skill to make him a threat to score all the time. To become a champion we'll need to see his compete level stay up when the going gets tough, as last year the defensive abilities of Datsyuk and Zetterberg turned Malkin into a non-factor in the Stanley Cup final. This years playoff will be a big test for the Russian, who has all the tools to be a champion.

7. Henrik Zetterberg

I can't believe I have to put him as low as 7th. This guy won the Conn Smythe trophy last year, and most people agree that even if Pittsburgh would have come back to beat Detroit, Zetterberg still would have been the playoffs MVP, he was just that much better than everyone else. Zetts had an off-year offensively this season (73 points, most players would kill to have that be an "off year"), and like his brother Datsyuk, Zetterberg is an elite defensive forward and Selke trophy winner, and consistant Selke nominee every year. He might just be the games best all around forward.

8. Sidney Crosby

Unreal playmaker and puck control guy. Crosby uses his speed, quick hands, and vision to accumulate points. He is a stats machine and is tough on the puck. He's a threat to score whenever he's on the ice. To become a champion he'll need to take a page out of the Steve Yzerman book and become a more complete player (see Zetterberg and Datsyuk). Crosby has all the tools to do it.

9. Henrik Lunqvist

Lunqvist doesn't buckle under pressure and makes unreal saves on a nightly basis. He's a human highlight reel in goal, and is steady as a rock. He gives a New York team a chance to win every night, despite the fact that they didn't have even one player reach 60 points this season (shout out to NYR's leading scorer Nik Antropov with 59 points). Lunqvist alone makes the Rangers a Stanley Cup dark horse this year.

10. Zdeno Chara

The big man! Zdeno's Bruins finished at the top of the Eastern conference and were nearly impossible to beat all season long. Chara logs huge minutes and combines offensive ability and great passing with sound defensive positioning and pure force on the back end. Hard to argue Zdeno Chara's place among the NHL elite has he leads his team deeper into the playoffs.

No comments: