Ten years of so-called elite players

Jason Gregor
May 20 2009 12:21PM

hardhits

So what does a player have to do to be considered elite? Does he need to be in the top-ten scoring for four plus years? Would cracking the top ten twice in ten years qualify? If the average career is four years, would a player only have to be in the top ten four times in his career to be great?

I don’t know the answers so I decided to take a look at the past ten years, and see who has been a top-ten scorer and how many would be considered elite players.

1998/1999

Jaromir Jagr (PIT) | 81 GP | 44 G | 83 A | 127 PTS | 66 PIM | 1.57 PPG

Teemu Selanne (ANA) | 75 GP | 47 G | 60 A | 107 PTS | 30 PIM | 1.43 PPG

Paul Kariya (ANA) | 82 GP | 39 G | 62 A | 101 PTS | 40 PIM | 1.23 PPG

Peter Forsberg (COL) | 78 GP | 30 G | 67 A | 97 PTS | 108 PIM | 1.24 PPG

Joe Sakic (COL) | 73 GP | 41 G | 55 A | 96 PTS | 29 PIM | 1.31 PPG

Alexei Yashin (OTT) | 82 GP | 44 G | 50 A | 94 PTS | 54 PIM | 1.14 PPG

Eric Lindros (PHI) | 71 GP | 40 G | 53 A | 93 PTS | 120 PIM | 1.30 PPG

Theoren Fleury (CGY/COL) | 75 GP | 40 G | 53 A | 93 PTS | 86 PIM | 1.24 PPG

John Leclair (PHI) | 76 GP | 43 G | 47 A | 90 PTS | 30 PIM | 1.18 PPG

Pavol Demitra (STL) | 82 GP | 37 G | 52 A | 89 PTS | 16 PIM | 1.08 PPG

* Six players from the west, four from the east and seven different teams.

1999/2000

Jaromir Jagr (PIT) | 63 GP | 42 G | 54 A | 96 PTS | 50 PIM | 1.52 PPG

Pavel Bure (VAN) | 74 GP | 58 G | 36 A | 94 PTS | 16 PIM | 1.27 PPG

Mark Recchi (PHI) | 82 GP | 28 G | 63 A | 91 PTS | 50 PIM | 1.10 PPG

Paul Kariya (ANA) | 74 GP | 42 G | 44 A | 86 PTS | 24 PIM | 1.16 PPG

Teemu Selanne (ANA) | 79 GP | 33 G | 52 A | 85 PTS | 12 PIM | 1.07 PPG

Owen Nolan (SJS) | 78 GP | 44 G | 40 A | 84 PTS | 110 PIM | 1.07 PPG

Tony Amonte (CHI) | 82 GP | 43 G | 41 A | 84 PTS | 48 PIM | 1.02 PPG

Mike Modano (DAL) | 77 GP | 38 G | 43 A | 81 PTS | 48 PIM | 1.05 PPG

Joe Sakic (COL) | 60 GP | 28 G | 53 A | 81 PTS | 28 PIM | 1.35 PPG

Steve Yzerman (DET) | 78 GP | 35 G | 44 A | 79 PTS | 34 PIM | 1.01 PPG

* Eight players from the west, two from the east and nine different teams.

2000/2001

Jaromir Jagr (PIT) | 81 GP | 52 G | 69 A | 121 PTS | 42 PIM | 1.49 PPG

Joe Sakic (COL) | 82 GP | 54 G | 64 A | 118 PTS | 30 PIM | 1.43 PPG

Patrick Elias (NJ) | 82 GP | 40 G | 56 A | 96 PTS | 51 PIM | 1.17 PPG

Alexia Kovalev (PIT) | 79 GP | 44 G | 51 A | 95 PTS | 96 PIM | 1.20 PPG

Jason Allison (BOS) | 82 GP | 36 G | 59 A | 95 PTS | 85 PIM | 1.15 PPG

Martin Straka (PIT) | 82 GP | 27 G | 68 A | 95 PTS | 38 PIM | 1.15 PPG

Pavel Bure (FLO) | 82 GP | 59 G | 33 A | 92 PTS | 58 PIM | 1.12 PPG

Doug Weight (EDM) | 82 GP | 25 G | 65 A | 90 PTS | 91 PIM | 1.09 PPG

Ziggy Palffy (LA) | 73 GP | 38 G | 51 A | 89 PTS | 20 PIM | 1.21 PPG

Peter Forsberg (COL) | 73 GP | 27 G | 62 A | 89 PTS | 54 PIM | 1.21 PPG

* Six players from the east, four from the west and seven different teams.

2001/2002

Jarome Iginla (CGY) | 82 GP | 52 G | 44 A | 96 PTS | 77 PIM | 1.17 PPG

Markus Naslund (VAN) | 81 GP | 40 G | 50 A | 90 PTS | 50 PIM | 1.11 PPG

Todd Bertuzzi (VAN) | 72 GP | 36 G | 49 A | 85 PTS | 110 PIM | 1.18 PPG

Mats Sundin (TOR) | 82 GP | 41 G | 39 A | 80 PTS | 94 PIM | 0.97 PPG

Jaromir Jagr (WAS) | 69 GP | 31 G | 48 A | 79 PTS | 30 PIM | 1.14 PPG

Joe Sakic (COL) | 82 GP | 26 G | 53 A | 79 PTS | 18 PIM | 0.96 PPG

Pavol Demitra (STL) | 82 GP | 35 G | 43 A | 78 PTS | 46 PIM | 0.95 PPG

Adam Oates (WAS/PHI) | 80 GP | 14 G | 64 A | 78 PTS | 28 PIM | 0.97 PPG

Mike Modano (DAL) | 78 GP | 34 G | 43 A | 77 PTS | 38 PIM | 0.99 PPG

Ron Francis (CAR) | 80 GP | 27 G | 50 A | 77 PTS | 18 PIM | 0.96 PPG

* Six teams from the west, four from the east and eight different teams.

2002/2003

Peter Forsberg (COL) | 75 GP | 29 G | 77 A | 106 PTS | 70 PIM | 1.37 PPG

Markus Naslund (VAN) | 82 GP | 48 G | 56 A | 104 PTS | 52 PIM | 1.26 PPG

Joe Thornton (BOS) | 77 GP | 36 G | 65 A | 101 PTS | 109 PIM | 1.31 PPG

Milan Hejduk (COL) | 82 GP | 50 G | 48 A | 98 PTS | 52 PIM | 1.09 PPG

Todd Bertuzzi (VAN) | 82 GP | 46 G | 51 A | 97 PTS | 144 PIM | 1.18 PPG

Pavol Demitra (STL) | 78 GP | 36 G | 57 A | 93 PTS | 32 PIM | 1.19 PPG

Glen Murray (BOS) | 82 GP | 44 G | 48 A | 92 PTS | 64 PIM | 1.12 PPG

Mario Lemieux (PIT) | 67 GP | 28 G | 63 A | 91 PTS | 43 PIM | 1.35 PPG

Dany Heatley (ATL) | 77 GP | 41 G | 48 A | 89 PTS | 58 PIM | 1.15 PPG

Ziggy Palffy (LA) | 76 GP | 37 G | 48 A | 85 PTS | 47 PIM | 1.11 PPG

Mike Modano (DAL) | 79 GP | 28 G | 57 A | 85 PTS | 30 PIM | 1.07 PPG

* Seven teams from the west, four from the east and eight different teams.

2003/2004

Martin St. Louis (TB) | 82 GP | 38 G | 56 A | 94 PTS | 24 PIM | 1.14 PPG

Ilya Kovalchuk (ATL) | 81 GP | 41 G | 46 A | 87 PTS | 63 PIM | 1.07 PPG

Joe Sakic (COL) | 81 GP | 33 G | 54 A | 87 PTS | 42 PIM | 1.07 PPG

Markus Naslund (VAN) | 78 GP | 35 G | 49 A | 84 PTS | 58 PIM | 1.07 PPG

Marian Hossa (OTT) | 81 GP | 36 G | 46 A | 82 PTS | 46 PIM | 1.01 PPG

Patrick Elias (NJ) | 82 GP | 38 G | 43 A | 81 PTS | 44 PIM | 0.99 PPG

Daniel Alfredsson (OTT) | 77 GP | 32 G | 48 A | 80 PTS | 24 PIM | 1.03 PPG

Cory Stillman (TB) | 81 GP | 25 G | 55 A | 80 PTS | 36 PIM | 0.99 PPG

Robert Lang (WSH/DET) | 69 GP | 30 G | 49 A | 79 PTS | 24 PIM | 1.14 PPG

Brad Richards (TB) | 82 GP | 26 G | 53 A | 79 PTS | 12 PIM | 0.96 PPG

Alex Tanguay (COL) | 69 GP | 25 G | 54 A | 79 PTS | 42 PIM | 1.14 PPG

* Eight teams from the west, three from the west and seven different teams.

2005/2006

Joe Thornton (BOS/SJ) | 81 GP | 29 G | 96 A | 125 PTS | 61 PIM | 1.54 PPG

Jaromir Jagr (NYR) | 82 GP | 54 G | 69 A | 123 PTS | 72 PIM | 1.50 PPG

Alex Ovechkin (WAS) | 81 GP | 52 G | 54 A | 106 PTS | 52 PIM | 1.30 PPG

Dany Heatley (OTT) | 82 GP | 50 G | 53 A | 103 PTS | 86 PIM | 1.25 PPG

Daniel Alfredsson (OTT) | 77 GP | 43 G | 60 A |103 PTS | 50 PIM | 1.33 PPG

Sidney Crosby (PIT) | 81 GP | 39 G | 63 A | 102 PTS | 110 PIM | 1.26 PPG

Eric Staal (CAR) | 82 GP | 45 G | 55 A | 100 PTS | 81 PIM | 1.22 PPG

Ilya Kovalchuk (ATL) | 78 GP | 52 G | 46 A | 98 PTS | 68 PIM | 1.25 PPG

Marc Savard (ATL) | 82 GP | 28 G | 69 A | 97 PTS | 100 PIM | 1.18 PPG

Jonathon Cheechoo (SJ) | 82 GP | 56 G | 37 A | 93 PTS | 58 PIM | 1.13 PPG

* Eight players from the east, two from the west and seven different teams. * Five 50-goal scorers and seven 100 point players.

2006/2007

Sidney Crosby (PIT) | 79 GP | 36 G | 84 A | 120 PTS | 60 PIM | 1.51 PPG

Joe Thornton (SJ) | 82 GP | 22 G | 92 A | 114 PTS | 44 PIM | 1.39 PPG

Vincent Lecavalier (TB) | 82 GP | 52 G | 56 A | 108 PTS | 44 PIM | 1.32 PPG

Dany Heatley (OTT) | 82 GP | 50 G | 55 A | 105 PTS | 74 PIM | 1.28 PPG

Martin St. Louis (TB) | 82 GP | 43 G | 59 A | 102 PTS | 28 PIM | 1.24 PPG

Marian Hossa (ATL) | 82 GP | 43 G | 57 A | 100 PTS | 49 PIM | 1.22 PPG

Joe Sakic (COL) | 82 GP | 36 G | 64 A | 100 PTS | 46 PIM | 1.22 PPG

Jaromir Jagr (NYR) | 82 GP | 30 G | 66 A | 96 PTS | 78 PIM | 1.17 PPG

Marc Savard (BOS) | 82 GP | 22 G | 74 A | 96 PTS | 96 PIM | 1.17 PPG

Daniel Briere (BUF) | 81 GP | 32 G | 63 A | 95 PTS | 89 PIM | 1.17 PPG

* Eight players from the east, two from the west and nine separate teams.

2007/2008

Alex Ovechkin (WAS) | 82 GP | 65 G | 47 A | 112 PTS | 40 PIM | 1.36 PPG

Evgeni Malkin (PIT) | 82 GP | 47 G | 59 A | 106 PTS | 78 PIM | 1.29 PPG

Jarome Iginla (CGY) | 82 GP | 50 G | 48 A | 98 PTS | 83 PIM | 1.19 PPG

Pavel Datsyuk (DET) | 82 GP | 31 G | 66 A | 97 PTS | 20 PIM | 1.18 PPG

Joe Thornton (SJ) | 82 GP | 29 G | 67 A | 96 PTS | 59 PIM | 1.17 PPG

Henrik Zetterberg (DET) | 75 GP | 43 G | 49 A | 92 PTS | 34 PIM | 1.22 PPG

Vincent Lecavalier (TB) | 81 GP | 40 G | 52 A | 92 PTS | 89 PIM | 1.13 PPG

Jason Spezza (OTT) | 76 GP | 34 G | 58 A | 92 PTS | 66 PIM | 1.21 PPG

Daniel Alfredsson (OTT) | 70 GP | 40 G | 49 A | 89 PTS | 34 PIM | 1.27 PPG

Ilya Kovalchuk (ATL) | 79 GP | 52 G | 25 A | 87 PTS | 52 PIM | 1.10 PPG

* Seven players from the east, three from the west and eight different teams.

2008/2009

Evgeni Malkin (PIT) | 82 GP | 35 G | 78 A | 113 PTS | 82 PIM | 1.37 PPG

Alex Ovechkin (WAS) | 79 GP | 56 G | 54 A | 110 PTS | 72 PIM | 1.39 PPG

Sidney Crosby (PIT) | 77 GP | 33 G | 70 A | 103 PTS | 76 PIM | 1.33 PPG

Pavel Datsyuk (DET) | 81 GP | 32 G | 65 A | 97 PTS | 22 PIM | 1.20 PPG

Zach Parise (NJ) | 82 GP | 45 G | 49 A | 94 PTS | 24 PIM | 1.14 PPG

Ilya Kovalchuk (ATL) | 79 GP | 43 G | 48 A | 91 PTS | 50 PIM | 1.15 PPG

Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) | 81 GP | 25 G | 66 A | 91 PTS | 121 PIM 1.12 PPG

Jarome Iginla (CGY) | 82 GP | 35 G | 54 A | 89 PTS | 37 PIM | 1.08 PPG

Marc Savard (BOS) | 82 GP | 25 G | 63 A | 88 PTS | 70 PIM | 1.07 PPG

Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) | 82 GP | 22 G | 66 A | 88 PTS | 46 PIM | 1.07 PPG

* Seven players from the east, three from the west and eight different teams.
Here’s a more in depth break down, and there was a total of 55 different players who made it at least once. The number in parenthesis is their Point Per Game average over their career.

Players who cracked the top ten more than three times: (3)

  1. Jaromir Jagr | (6) | (1.25)
  2. Joe Sakic | (6) | (1.19)
  3. Ilya Kovalchuk | (4) | (1.02)

Players who cracked the top ten three times: (10)

  1. Alex Ovechkin (1.30)
  2. Sidney Crosby (1.37)
  3. Jarome Iginla (0.90)
  4. Peter Forsberg (1.25)
  5. Pavol Demitra (0.92)
  6. Mike Modano (0.95)
  7. Markus Naslund (0.78)
  8. Joe Thornton (1.01)
  9. Daniel Alfredsson (0.99)
  10. Marc Savard (0.89)

Players who cracked the top ten twice: (12)

  1. Teemu Selanne (1.07)
  2. Dany Heatley (1.07)
  3. Marty St. Louis (0.84)
  4. Paul Kariya (1.03)
  5. Pavel Bure (1.10)
  6. Marian Hossa (0.93)
  7. Evgeni Malkin (1.25)
  8. Patrick Elias (0.86)
  9. Ziggy Palffy (1.04)
  10. Pavel Datsyuk (0.99)
  11. Vincent Lecavalier (0.85)
  12. Todd Bertuzzi (0.73)

Players who cracked the top ten once: (30)

  1. Alexei Yashin (0.91)
  2. Eric Lindros (1.14)
  3. Theoren Fleury (1.00)
  4. John Leclair (0.84)
  5. Mark Recchi (0.96)
  6. Alexei Kovalev (0.81)
  7. Owen Nolan (0.75)
  8. Jason Allison (0.88)
  9. Tony Amonte (0.76)
  10. Doug Weight (0.85)
  11. Martin Straka (0.75)
  12. Steve Yzerman (1.16)
  13. Mats Sundin (1.00)
  14. Adam Oates (1.06)
  15. Ron Francis (1.04)
  16. Milan Hejduk (0.84)
  17. Glen Murray (0.64)
  18. Mario Lemieux (1.88)
  19. Cory Stillman (0.72)
  20. Robert Lang (0.73)
  21. Brad Richards (0.88)
  22. Alex Tanguay (0.88)
  23. Eric Staal (0.87)
  24. Jonathon Cheechoo (0.66)
  25. Daniel Briere (0.80)
  26. Henrik Zetterberg (0.94)
  27. Jason Spezza (1.03)
  28. Zach Parise (0.77)
  29. Ryan Getzlaf (0.91)
  30. Nicklas Backstrom (0.96)

I’m guessing that a player like Getzlaf, who has only played four seasons, will be in the top ten many times before he is done. Same with Parise and Staal. What is interesting is that Rick Nash with six years in the league hasn’t cracked the top ten once. In fact, his highest ranking ever was 18th. Nash is widely regarded as one of the top players, but his stats don’t back up that statement. He has a 0.80 PPG too date.

And you can’t use “He is on a bad team with no other skilled players” as an argument, because Iginla won a title with Craig Conroy as the second highest player on his team. Joe Sakic had 100+ point seasons early in his career on horrible Quebec teams. One year Sakic had 109 points, 50 more than Mats Sundin who was 2nd on the Nordiques. Great players will produce regardless of their linemates.

Pavol Demitra cracking the top ten three times was the biggest surprise for me. I’ve never considered him a great player, and I still don’t, but his stats suggest I might have underrated him.

I did a check on the previous ten years as well, and noticed that in that time only 43 players cracked the top ten. I would argue that during this ten-year stretch from 1988/89- 1997/1998 there were more elite players, thus a smaller group of players who cracked the top ten.

Some have argued that Adam Oates isn’t a Hall of Famer, but when you consider that he cracked the top-ten seven different times in his career, it would be hard not to put him in.

Compared to a player like Dave Andreychuk, who was consistent over his career with 640 goals in a 23-year career, but only cracked the top-ten once, I can see why he isn’t in the Hall to date.

Oates scored 1420 points in 1337 games, while Andreychuk compiled 1338 in 1639. Andreychuk scored 640 goals to Oates’ 341. I love goal scorers, but for my money Oates was a better player averaging 1.06 PPG in his career compared to Andreychuk’s 0.81.

This ten year span also included three D-men, Coffey (3 times), Leetch and MacInnis, which just re-affirms how great they were. Not one D-man cracked the top ten during the past ten seasons.

Some names also jump out at you as one year wonders like Josef Stumpel and Mikael Renberg as players who clearly had skill, but were more one-hit wonders than true top-end players.

Players who cracked the top ten more than four times: (8)

  1. Wayne Gretzky | (7) | (1.92)
  2. Mario Lemieux | (6) | (1.88)
  3. Adam Oates | (6) | (1.06)
  4. Jaromir Jagr | (5) | (1.25)
  5. Steve Yzerman | (5) | (1.16)
  6. Joe Sakic | (5) | (1.19)
  7. Ron Francis | (4) | (1.04)
  8. Teemu Selanne | (4) | (1.07)

Players who cracked the top ten three times: (5)

  1. Paul Coffey (1.08)
  2. Mark Messier (1.07)
  3. Luc Robitaille (0.97)
  4. Mark Recchi (0.96)
  5. Brett Hull (1.09)

Players who cracked the top ten twice: (15)

  1. Peter Forsberg (1.25)
  2. Pavel Bure (1.10)
  3. John Leclair (0.84)
  4. Ziggy Palffy (1.04)
  5. Paul Kariya (1.03)
  6. Eric Lindros (1.14)
  7. Alex Mogilny (1.04)
  8. Sergei Fedorov (0.94)
  9. Theo Fleury (1.00)
  10. Pat Lafontaine (1.17)
  11. Pierre Turgeon (1.02)
  12. Doug Gilmour (0.95)
  13. Jeremy Roenick (0.89)
  14. Bernie Nicholls (1.07)
  15. Brendan Shanahan (0.89)

Players who cracked the top ten once: (15)

  1. Mats Sundin (1.00)
  2. Dave Andreychuk (0.81)
  3. Jason Allison (0.88)
  4. Jozef Stumpel (0.70)
  5. Alexie Zhamnov (0.89)
  6. Mikael Renberg (0.70)
  7. Kevin Stevens (0.83)
  8. Jimmy Carson (0.89)
  9. Brian Leetch (0.85)
  10. John Cullen (0.88)
  11. Al MacInnis (0.89)
  12. Steve Larmer (1.00)
  13. Rob Brown (0.80)
  14. Joe Mullen (1.00)
  15. Jari Kurri (1.11)

So after looking at the numbers it is obvious who the true elite players are. Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Sakic, Yzerman and Selanne were regulars in the top ten, and that isn’t a surprise.

Would anyone consider Pavol Demitra better than Mats Sundin? Probably not, but Sundin only cracked the top ten twice in his career, while Demitra did it three times. So is Demitra better? Of course not, but for a five-year span Demitra was an above average point producer.

And if a guy has four or five really productive seasons and then falls off, he is better than a guy like Mike Gartner, who only cracked the top ten once in his career (1985), but finished with more than 700 goals and had a mind blowing 13 seasons with at least 32 goals? Gartner finished with a career average of 0.92 PPG.

I think PPG might be a more accurate way to evaluate great players, rather than how many top-ten finishes a player ends up with. But even then certain numbers can be misleading.

Take Peter Forsberg (1.25) v. Joe Sakic (1.19). Forsberg has a higher PPG, but he also played almost half as many games. I think part of being considered an elite player has to be longevity and productivity. Had Forsberg played another 600 games, would he have kept up his PPG average? Doubtful since very few do, although Sakic did. For my money I still take Sakic, based solely that he was more of a goal scorer. Forsberg was a 0.35 GPG, while Sakic was a 0.46. And I hated that Forsberg dove so much, especially when a shift earlier you couldn’t knock him down with an axe.

After looking at the last 20 years, I’ve decided to create a few categories to try and separate where a player fits in.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Joe Sakic and Jaromir Jagr were the most dominant players. Each guy cracked the top ten a mind blowing eleven times.

HALL OF FAMERS

Gretzky (1.92), Lemieux (1.88), Lafontaine (1.17) Kurri (1.11), Coffey (1.08), Messier (107), Francis (1.04), Mullen (1.00) and MacInnis (0.89).

ON WAY TO HALL OF FAME

Forsberg (1.25), Sakic (1.19 and expect him to retire after someone wins the Cup this year), Yzerman (1.16), Bure (1.10), Hull (1.09), Oates (1.06), Mogilny (1.04) and Leetch (0.85).

DEBATEABLE HALL OF FAMERS

Lindros (1.14), Nicholls (1.07), Palffy (1.04), Turgeon (1.02), Fleury (1.00), Larmer (1.00), Robitaille (0.97), Recchi (0.96), Gilmour (0.95), Modano (0.95) Shanahan (0.89), Roenick (0.89) and Andreychuk (0.81)

ACTIVE GUARANTEED HALL OF FAMERS

Jagr (1.25), Selanne (1.07), Sundin (1.00) and Fedorov (0.94)

ACTIVE ELITE

Crosby (1.37), Ovechkin (1.30), Malkin (1.25), Heatley (1.07), Kariya (1.03), Spezza (1.03), Kovalchuk (1.02), Thornton (1.01), Alfredsson (0.99), Datsyuk (0.99), Backstrom (0.96), Zetterberg (0.94), Hossa (0.93), Getzlaf (0.91) and Iginla (0.90).

GREAT BUT NOT ELITE

Savard (0.89), Richards (0.88), Staal (0.87), Elias (0.86), Lecavalier (0.85), St. Louis (0.84) and Parise (0.77).

ONE NIGHT STANDS: Proven talent but couldn’t maintain it.

Demitra (0.92),Yashin (0.91), Zhamnov (0.89), Carson (0.89), Allison (0.88), Weight (0.85), Leclair (0.84), Kovalev (0.81), Briere (0.80) and Naslund (0.78)

MORE OF A WINGMAN: Couldn’t wheel a tire down hill.

Cullen (0.88), Tanguay (0.88), Hejduk (0.84), Stevens (0.83), Brown (0.80), Amonte (0.76), Straka (0.75), Nolan (0.75), Bertuzzi (0.73), Lang (0.73), Stillman (0.72), Stumpel (0.70), Renberg (0.70), Cheechoo (0.66) and Murray (0.64).

These numbers don’t tell every story, but it sure gives us a better impression of those who are great, good or just overrated.

In the last 20 years only 81 different players have managed to have a top-ten season. It was proven that players like Murray, Cheechoo, Renberg and Stumpel can have a great year, but be far from being considered a great player.

In case you are curious, Lidstrom (0.75), Pronger (0.59) and Niedermayer (0.58) who many consider potential Hall-of-Famers haven’t come close to the offensive numbers of Coffey, MacInnis or Leetch.

Should that keep them out of the elite category? Of course not, but if forwards can still average close to one PPG why haven’t any of the D-men in the past ten years? The argument is that the game isn’t as offensive, and that is fair, but the forward’s numbers in the past few years are on par to the elite players of the previous ten years, excluding Gretzky and Lemieux, so maybe Pronger and Niedermayer aren’t as great as we have been led to believe?

Let the debate begin on who you like and who you think you should be included in any of the lists.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Big Deal
May 20 2009, 12:27PM
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Wow, that's alot of information to digest. But on the surface, does it not upset anyone that there is no Oilers from 1993 to current on the list anywhere?

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#2 Poo Czar
May 20 2009, 12:42PM
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Damn you Jimmy Carson. DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!

Also, Gregor just Willis'd the Nation! That's some seroius stats-ing right there, well done! But where are the Corsi Numbers?

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#3 mjsh
May 20 2009, 12:43PM
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yes Big Deal wrote:

Wow, that’s alot of information to digest. But on the surface, does it not upset anyone that there is no Oilers from 1993 to current on the list anywhere?
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#4 Souby
May 20 2009, 12:47PM
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@ Big Deal: I agree, lots there to mull over. As for no Oilers not being on the list since '93, that is not true. Doug Weight finished 8th in the 00/01 season with 90pts. I am not surprised there haven't been more Oilers on that list because the only big point producer the Oilers have had in the last 15+ years has been Weight.

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#5 Poo Czar
May 20 2009, 12:48PM
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Reading over this I realize I've consitently underestimated Burnaby Joe. That guy has been a beauty.

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#6 MattL
May 20 2009, 12:55PM
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1) Paul Coffey is a freak. 2) I think Oates is an HOF'er in the same vein as Jari Kurri. Most of his points were complementary to one of the best goal scorers in the last 50 years, but nobody could do it better than him. Assist man of the highest caliber.

Go Hull and Oates *clap clap*

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#7 baggedmilk
May 20 2009, 01:14PM
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Pavel Bure was a beauty, too bad that he had bummed knees because the guy scored some big time goals.

@ Jason Gregor:

I'm surprised you put up a piece like this, considering you're not a hardcore stats guy.

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#8 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 01:16PM
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Awesome blog.

Couple points:

1. Kovalchuk may be the most underated player in the league

2. Is their two more similar players then Sakic/Yzerman?

3. Where do Sakic/Yzerman fit in all time? My guess would be 12 - 18... if that's ballpark, where is Mess?

4. Al Mac/Coffey and to a lesser extent Letch were putting up their big numbers in the 80's and early 90's when games were averaging 6.5 to 8 GPG while Lidstrom/Nieds/Pronger have played the majority of their careers with a 5.5 GPG

5. Lindros started his carer putting up simialar numbers to Crosby, factor in his size and he would likely be in the Gretz/Mario debate for best all time forward if he could have stayed healthy.

6. Does this re-open the Vinny is elite debate ;)

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#9 JRocks247
May 20 2009, 01:16PM
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Holy crap, i don't suppose we can rehire MacT so we could talk about firing him again....things are slow in Oil land

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#10 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 01:18PM
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Side note the the Mac/Coffey/Leetch vs Nieds/Pronger/Lidstrom.

If you assume each goal averages 1.5 assists, points per game available drops from 9.75 - 12 to 8.25.

Scarcity gives them value

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#11 Chris
May 20 2009, 01:31PM
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Where's Hemsky? When you give a "skill" forward a six year contract, first line ice time, and make him the focus of your first unit powerplay; while turning a blind eye to the fact he doesn't hit, stand up for himself, win faceoffs, kill penalties, or properly backcheck; you'd expect him to be in the top ten at least once in the last five years ... right?

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#12 Mike L
May 20 2009, 01:39PM
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JRocks247 wrote:

Holy crap, i don’t suppose we can rehire MacT so we could talk about firing him again….things are slow in Oil land

What are you talking about. This is a great piece. Loads of info on the last 20 years. I didn't know Oates put up that many numbers.

And Crosby currently has a higher PPG than Ovechkin, I wonder if that will change how some of us look at him. His PPG is damn impressive, and I'm guessing it will go up. Great article Gregor very insightful.

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#13 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 01:39PM
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Chris wrote:

Where’s Hemsky? When you give a “skill” forward a six year contract, first line ice time, and make him the focus of your first unit powerplay; while turning a blind eye to the fact he doesn’t hit, stand up for himself, win faceoffs, kill penalties, or properly backcheck; you’d expect him to be in the top ten at least once in the last five years … right?

Not really.

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#14 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 01:40PM
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Mike L wrote:

JRocks247 wrote: Holy crap, i don’t suppose we can rehire MacT so we could talk about firing him again….things are slow in Oil land What are you talking about. This is a great piece. Loads of info on the last 20 years. I didn’t know Oates put up that many numbers. And Crosby currently has a higher PPG than Ovechkin, I wonder if that will change how some of us look at him. His PPG is damn impressive, and I’m guessing it will go up. Great article Gregor very insightful.

Crosby's PPG basically hasn't moved since he's been in the league.

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#15 Jason Gregor
May 20 2009, 01:42PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

@ Jason Gregor: I’m surprised you put up a piece like this, considering you’re not a hardcore stats guy.

I like to learn things about players and see where they rank. You are correct that I don't focus all of my evaluation on a player based solely on stats, but in some cases I think they show value.

You can't ignore value of stats, just like you can't overrate them. Certain ones I have no time for.

Bertuzzi had a few great years and then really dropped off. Same as Naslund. It shows it is much harder to sustain top end scoring. And where do we draw the line at elite or just great?

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#16 Chris
May 20 2009, 01:42PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

How about the top thirty?

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#17 Mike from Hardware
May 20 2009, 01:51PM
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Big Deal wrote:

Wow, that’s alot of information to digest. But on the surface, does it not upset anyone that there is no Oilers from 1993 to current on the list anywhere?

Jason Gregor wrote:

2000/01 Doug Weight (EDM) | 82 GP | 25 G | 65 A | 90 PTS | 91 PIM | 1.09 PPG

It's only once, still a bit disturbing, but it did happen.

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#18 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 01:58PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: How about the top thirty?

Ya, with his skill set and the responsibilities he's been given, a consistant top 30 finish should be expected.

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#19 asher
May 20 2009, 01:59PM
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Niedermayer, et al aren't as good offensively as Coffey, etc, but there's more to playing the position than offensive prowess.

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#20 R O
May 20 2009, 02:07PM
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Without context these rankings don't really tell you anything about: - Which of these star players faced off against other star players and scored their points anyway? - Which players padded their stats on the PP? - Which players outscored their opposition and which ones got outscored? - And ultimately... which players help you win?

You don't look into this at all, and the end result is that your list of elite players ends up including a liability like Kovalchuk.

You put way too much emphasis on aggregate goals and assists, without separating them into ES/PP/PK nor accounting for how often they got scored against nor accounting for who they played with and against (other than an "Iginla did it with Conroy" throwaway comment). An analysis of ten years of players will take a lot more effort than looking at the scoring leaderboard. In fact, it may require the use of statistics more advanced than goals, assists and points. If you don't have the time to learn and apply these statistics, why should we have the time to read and absorb your analysis?

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#21 Travis Dakin
May 20 2009, 02:11PM
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Mike from Hardware wrote:

It’s only once, still a bit disturbing, but it did happen.

and he did finish just outside the top ten in 95-96 with 104 pts.

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#22 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 02:19PM
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R O wrote:

Without context these rankings don’t really tell you anything about: - Which of these star players faced off against other star players and scored their points anyway? - Which players padded their stats on the PP? - Which players outscored their opposition and which ones got outscored? - And ultimately… which players help you win? You don’t look into this at all, and the end result is that your list of elite players ends up including a liability like Kovalchuk. You put way too much emphasis on aggregate goals and assists, without separating them into ES/PP/PK nor accounting for how often they got scored against nor accounting for who they played with and against (other than an “Iginla did it with Conroy” throwaway comment). An analysis of ten years of players will take a lot more effort than looking at the scoring leaderboard. In fact, it may require the use of statistics more advanced than goals, assists and points. If you don’t have the time to learn and apply these statistics, why should we have the time to read and absorb your analysis?

Interesting that you conclude that Kovalchuk is a liability without providing any "back up" details that you critically point out aren't included in the original point.

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#23 Chris
May 20 2009, 02:20PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

I don't think Hemsky has EVER cracked the top thirty...

~Of course Hemsky's failure to do so is all Lowe's fault, MacT's fault, Horcoff's fault, Penner's fault, and previously Smyth's fault.~

The continuiong failure of the Oilers organization to draft or aquire an elite player is the single greatest source of frustration for many fans, including myself. The Oilers are heading into the fifth season since the lockout... and STILL reamain a "have-not" team.

@ Jason Gregor:

What would it cost to move up in the draft? Could Coglino and the tenth pick get the Oilers into the top three? Would Hemsky and the tenth be too great a price to pay for a player like Tavares?

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#24 Archaeologuy
May 20 2009, 02:24PM
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You guys remember when Yashin was good? Those were crazy times. There's Something About Mary was still in the theatres and Will Smith was makin sure that we were Gettin Jiggy With It. Oh man.

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#25 TV
May 20 2009, 02:26PM
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The 1 thing that stands out to me is Iggy's standings in these lists. Being in the Top 10 3x is nothing to bitch about, although, in the big scheme of things & for all the praise he gets, his statistics are middling to me at best.

I know his lunchpail is much bigger than a lot of players on these lists, but there sure are a lot of players who are not given the respect (stats/ratings wise) that Iggy seems to get on a constant basis.

I'll admit to being biased, but I put him in the "GREAT BUT NOT ELITE" list with the guys listed like Savard, Richards, Staal & St. Louis instead.

Very interesting number crunch J.G.

x6

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#26 The Towel Boy
May 20 2009, 02:28PM
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I had to check that it wasn't a Willis post...twice...

Good stuff though. I find it pretty interesting the fluctuation of the top point getter's point total in every year. Some years it's like "HOLY SH!T!" ..and then other years it's like "REALLY? 94 PTS? That's it?"

A strange game, this "hockey" is.

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#27 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 02:36PM
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@ Chris:

He's been there at least once on a PPG basis... maybe 2/3 times. I guess the question is, how much do you want to punish the guy for his anual 10 game injury spell.

It's been beaten to death, but to get the mystery "elite player" odds are your going to have to draft top 5... likely even top 3.

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#28 Chris
May 20 2009, 02:55PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

It's not about "punishing" Hemsky; It's about dispelling the notion that he's ever going to be the "elite" franchise player the Oilers so desperatly need. Would you trade Hemsky for Tavares, Hedman, or Duchene? If you were a GM would you accept Hemsky as adequate compensation for such a high pick? (Is Hemsky AND a tenth enough? Too much?) There haven't been any/many deals under the new CBA where a team traded it's way into the top three... I'm just wrestling with the notion. Any thoughts?

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#29 King Mob
May 20 2009, 03:04PM
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Modano "debateable" and Sundin "garanteed"???

pshh.

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#30 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 03:12PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: It’s not about “punishing” Hemsky; It’s about dispelling the notion that he’s ever going to be the “elite” franchise player the Oilers so desperatly need. Would you trade Hemsky for Tavares, Hedman, or Duchene? If you were a GM would you accept Hemsky as adequate compensation for such a high pick? (Is Hemsky AND a tenth enough? Too much?) There haven’t been any/many deals under the new CBA where a team traded it’s way into the top three… I’m just wrestling with the notion. Any thoughts?

I'd trade him for Tavares/Hedman in a heartbeat. Not so sure about Duschene.

It's all about risk/potential return. We basically know what you get with Hemsky vs not knowing for sure what you get from the other guys. It would be great to get the next Bossy... but we'd sure be kicking ourselfs if we got the next Dailge.... or even the next Hamerlick.

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#31 Travis Dakin
May 20 2009, 03:17PM
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King Mob wrote:

Modano “debateable” and Sundin “garanteed”??? pshh.

Modano-Dallas/Minnesota. Sundin-Toronto. Enough said.

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#32 King Mob
May 20 2009, 03:20PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

King Mob wrote: Modano “debateable” and Sundin “garanteed”??? pshh. Modano-Dallas/Minnesota. Sundin-Toronto. Enough said.

haha, true.

sad, but true.

FWIW, I'd put Lindros in before Sundin. Headline draft story, Hart Trophy, Captained his team to SC finals... etc. Honestly, I don't see any reason why Sundin should be in the HHOF.

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#33 King Mob
May 20 2009, 03:32PM
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while we're on the subject, I'd say that a player making the HHOF without a cup ring should be the rough equivalent of winning the Hart the same year your team misses the playoffs... technically possible, but an exception to the rule.

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#34 Librarian Mike
May 20 2009, 03:52PM
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@ King Mob:

I'm totally ripping this off from someone, but there's a saying that if you find yourself debating whether someone deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, that's a good sign that they probably don't.

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#35 Jason Gregor
May 20 2009, 04:07PM
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R O wrote:

You put way too much emphasis on aggregate goals and assists, without separating them into ES/PP/PK nor accounting for how often they got scored against nor accounting for who they played with and against (other than an “Iginla did it with Conroy” throwaway comment). An analysis of ten years of players will take a lot more effort than looking at the scoring leaderboard. In fact, it may require the use of statistics more advanced than goals, assists and points. If you don’t have the time to learn and apply these statistics, why should we have the time to read and absorb your analysis?

So you don't think all of these guys were pretty much on the first PP on their team? Wake up. I don't need to look at that to realize who are good offensive players and which ones aren't.

DO you really think that if Ethan Moreau played PP minutes he would produce as Ryan Smyth did when he was on the PP.

THese guys all played on their respective team's first PP unit, so if one guy got more PP points then maybe it was because he was better on the PP.

I know how to apply stats, but I'm also not closed minded enough to realize they were all PP players. I also said it didn't prove without a doubt who was the best, but it sure gave an insight into who were the dominant players.

Joe Sakic and Jaromir Jagr were the best offensive players of the last 20 years...The stats don't lie. Do you think that over the course of their career they padded their stats just on the PP, while the other top scorers didn't?

IF you want to debate something then back it up with something other than some lame attmept at a snide remark.

And do you think that 20 years ago they actually kept track of who was on the ice against the opposition? Good argument on your part.

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#36 J-Bird
May 20 2009, 04:12PM
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Wow, lots of work and info there Gregor. Nice job.

For me, Mike Gartner is the most over rated player of all time. He was never elite. Never a top 20 pic in your hockey pool. Long career no question. Putting up 30 goals because you're the only player the team had for 15 years isn't much IMO. He was never even close to even being mentioned as elite. Was he ever a 1st or 2nd team All Star? Big time over rated. But a nice guy, so he's in. The same arguements made about Ciccerelli that keep him out, got Mike Gartner in. Dino's not a nice guy though to the media. Bunk.

Sundin is the top scoring Swede in history, he's a lock. Not his fault Tronna kept getting guys on the downside of their careers to play in front of mom and dad year after year. He was money every year. Don't let the fact he was a leaf cloud it. He was a horse. He's a point a game guy for the career.

Bure should be a lock too. One of the best goal scorers of all time for sure.

Lindros, for a few years anyways, was absolutely the best player in the NHL, no doubt about it. Not many can say that. His PPG numbers are still solid. I'm not sure he did it long enough though. But hey, they let Neely in, so....?

Tkachuk a HOFer?

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#37 Mills
May 20 2009, 04:15PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Joe Sakic and Jaromir Jagr were the best offensive players of the last 20 years…

I would put Lemieux higher then either of these guys. He has the second highest PPG ever, right after Gretzky.

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#38 Ender the Dragon
May 20 2009, 04:25PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

I had to check that it wasn’t a Willis post…twice…

I know what you mean, and I don't think Willis would be offended if it was attributed to him in any case. It's an interesting and solid piece.

Of course, I might just be giving it a free pass because it allowed me to reminisce on the Russian Rocket, but it's all good either way, right?

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#39 kingsblade
May 20 2009, 04:31PM
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R O wrote:

An analysis of ten years of players will take a lot more effort than looking at the scoring leaderboard.

Looking at the top 10 scorers is a perfectly valid lens to take a snapshot. There is no such thing as complete analysis.

You may find this to be incomplete but it still can tell us plenty about the players listed.

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#40 Rice
May 20 2009, 04:41PM
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I can't believe that nobody has made a crack about Marty Sakic not being in this list.

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#41 The Menace
May 20 2009, 04:48PM
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Big Deal wrote:

Wow, that’s alot of information to digest. But on the surface, does it not upset anyone that there is no Oilers from 1993 to current on the list anywhere?

How about Bernie Nicholls? He played in Edmonton in 92/93. I saw I guy at a Flames/Oilers game this year wearing a Nicholls #9 jersey - I thought it was classic!

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#42 Chris
May 20 2009, 05:06PM
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The Menace wrote:

How about Bernie Nicholls?

Remember the "Pipeline" with Damphouse and Joe Murphy? Good times...

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#43 Chris
May 20 2009, 05:07PM
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@ Rice:

Speaking of Nicholls... Steven... is that you?

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#44 David S
May 20 2009, 05:23PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

And where do we draw the line at elite or just great?

Ales Hemsky

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#45 Rice
May 20 2009, 05:41PM
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@ Chris: sorry dude

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#46 Jason Gregor
May 20 2009, 06:02PM
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King Mob wrote:

while we’re on the subject, I’d say that a player making the HHOF without a cup ring should be the rough equivalent of winning the Hart the same year your team misses the playoffs… technically possible, but an exception to the rule.

Glad to see you guys got why I said SUndin would be a guarantee. I think it is more to do with where he played. But was Bernie Federko any better of a player? And he is in. I think Sundin will get in, and probably on his first try.

Mills wrote:

I would put Lemieux higher then either of these guys. He has the second highest PPG ever, right after Gretzky.

Not in the last 20 years he didn't. That is why I said past 20 years. Lemieux was a top ten guy seven times, same as Gretz. Jagr and Sakic 11. Of course if you say all time, I would take Lemieux in a heartbeat, but I said in the last 20 years. Chris wrote:

What would it cost to move up in the draft? Could Coglino and the tenth pick get the Oilers into the top three? Would Hemsky and the tenth be too great a price to pay for a player like Tavares?

Trading Hemsky for Tavares might not make them better next year, but would down the road. I still don't think that would be enough. If you are the Islanders why would you trade the #1 pick when you see what it has done for Pitt, Wash and Chic, and how quick it can turn your franchise around. Hemsky and the 10th won't do that.

I don't see the Oilers moving into the top three.

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#47 Chris
May 20 2009, 07:25PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

I agree...Snow would be insane to trade away the first overall pick... Maybe a small part of me was hoping he would be under tremendous pressure to win now. I don't think the Oilers have EVER had one of the first three picks...

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#48 99thoilerfan
May 20 2009, 10:43PM
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King Mob wrote:

Modano “debateable” and Sundin “garanteed”??? pshh.

Right On, Brother !

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#49 99thoilerfan
May 20 2009, 10:56PM
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99thoilerfan wrote:

King Mob wrote: Modano “debateable” and Sundin “garanteed”??? pshh. Right On, Brother !

*When will I read to the end of the post, before posting?*

And Just to add a few more thoughts...

HOF selection: Does winning the cup get you in ? Does wearing the "C" get you in ? Does winning any type of hardware, ( Ex: MVP? ) get you in ?

Burnaby Joe, Stevie Y Now there is some HOF material.

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#50 Homie
May 21 2009, 12:04AM
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@ Jason Gregor:

What is interesting is that Rick Nash with six years in the league hasn’t cracked the top ten once. In fact, his highest ranking ever was 18th. Nash is widely regarded as one of the top players, but his stats don’t back up that statement. He has a 0.80 PPG too date.

He's a top player because he's had 41, 40, 38 and 27 goal seasons before he turned 25. For COLUMBUS.

PPG gives too much weight to assists, when there are two available for each goal. I think if you ran your calculations for Goals per Game or reduced the value of an assist (like 0.6 of a goal or so), you'd see Nash in the top ten for 4 of the last 5 years, but don't quote me because I haven't actually run it.

I'd trade Hemsky for Nash in a heartbeat even though they have a similar PPG over the last few seasons and are around the same age. I'd throw in Gilbert and a pick too, then sign the guy for 10 years.

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