NHL's Top 25 Players and the Drink That Best Represents Their Playing Style
Who is the best player in the NHL?
Years ago it was the hyped Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin argument, with educated fans pointing out that Pavel Datsyuk plays a more complete game than either of them.
Now Crosby is injured and Ovechkin's drop in production has him falling out of the spotlight. Datsyuk is getting old.
The emergence of Claude Giroux as one of the league's elite players makes the discussion even more complex.
Giroux's playmaking, scoring, deking and defensive abilities make him seem like a younger, more offense-oriented version of Datsyuk.
Evgeni Malkin leads the NHL in points per game, but does not come close to playing as complete of a game as Giroux does.
Sorting this mess out is going to take some time. So if you're of legal age, grab the appropriate drink for your player, and figure out where you stand in the argument.
25. John Tavares
John Tavares' point production has gone up in each of his first three seasons. The budding superstar is now at point-per-game pace and making his mark as one of the NHL's top players.
However, he does it in front of one of the worst crowds in the NHL, which hurts his overall popularity.
Yuengleng is an amazing beer, but not widely recognized. It is only distributed in 14 states (basically, from New York down to Florida).
24. Jordan Eberle
In the late 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers were one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history. A loaded team with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen and Paul Coffey helped the team with five Stanley Cups.
Now, the franchise is loaded with young talent; Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner are 22 years old. Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were back-to-back first overall picks that will both develop into elite superstar scorers.
This season, they have a chance at the first overall pick yet again, and will be no lower than third if the standings stay the way they are now.
Eberle is currently the top scorer on the team. He and the Oilers should get used to celebrating. Within the next five years, they could be dominating the NHL.
23. Ilya Kovalchuk
Samuel Adams Utopia
Ilya Kovalchuk is a strong player who can make those around him seem useless with his deking and shooting ability.
Samuel Adams Utopia is an impressive beer that can make other beers around it seem useless simply because of how good it is.
Both, however, cost way too much. Kovalchuk is signed to a $100 million contract. A bottle of Utopia costs $100.
22. Marian Hossa
Marian Hossa is a versatile player who can skate well, is strong with the puck, can set up plays and score goals. He is useful in all zones of the ice.
Jack can be consumed in a number of different manners; straight shots, sipped on the rocks, mixed with Coke or even Dr. Pepper for a tasty "Dr. Daniels."
Both are helpful in a variety of manners.
21. Dion Phaneuf
Great taste, less filling?
No. Miller Lite is not great.
According to NHL players, neither is Dion Phaneuf. He was ranked as the league's most overrated player by a player poll.
Despite this fact, he still found himself at the All-Star game this season.
Despite Miller Lite's lack of actual great taste, it is still one of the top-selling beers in the U.S.
20. Joffrey Lupul
"Natty Ice" is known as a beer that is cheap, and has a high percentage of alcohol.
It didn't cost much for Brian Burke to acquire Joffrey Lupul from the Anaheim Ducks (the trade was Francois Beauchemin for Lupul and Jake Gardiner), but he is certainly getting a lot of production from him.
19. Phil Kessel
Lupul's partner Phil Kessel was voted as the easiest All-Star caliber player to intimidate.
It is only appropriate to choose a light beer knowing that.
As one of the NHL's top scorers this season, it is also fitting that "Natty Light" is one of the U.S.'s top-selling beers.
18. Jason Spezza
Jason Spezza carries a $7 million cap hit—superstar money. He's among the league's top scorers, but players around the same quality level as him are comparatively cheaper.
Heineken is similar. It is not that much more special than beers of a lesser price, such as Budweiser or Miller High Life, but costs a bit more.
17. Brian Elliot
Brian Elliot doesn't always get to start in net for St. Louis...
...but when he does, he's better than Jaroslav Halak.
16. Nicklas Lidstrom
Johnnie Walker Red Label
Whiskey gets better with age, and Nicklas Lidstrom never seems to get worse.
Lidstrom won his seventh James Norris Trophy at the end of last season, despite being 41 years old.
15. Ryan Suter
Ryan Suter is going to be very expensive for whoever decides to try signing him this offseason.
However, the All-Star defenseman will probably be worth it.
The drink can be combined with a lot of different mixers or taken straight, just as Suter can be.
(How pricy is Patron? The high-end tequila costs roughly $50 per 750mL bottle.)
14. Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas is a very aggressive goaltender. His style seem be unorthodox and out of control.
When it works out for him, it can be a very good time for the Bruins.
The same can be said for anyone who drinks Four Loko.
13. Zdeno Chara
Chara is the largest man in the NHL. He's a monster.
Godzilla beer is a 15 percent alcohol by volume drink made by a chain of restaurants in northeastern Massachusetts called Beer Works.
It will be hard to find a beer stronger than this one, much like it will be difficult to find a hockey player stronger than Chara.
12 and 11. Daniel and Henrik Sedin
Pepsi and Coca-Cola
Over-consumption of alcohol can lead to accidentally falling down.
The Sedin brothers and the Vancouver Canucks dive enough when they are on the ice without drinking, so for them a non-alcoholic beverage needs to be chosen.
Both Pepsi and Coke are quality soft drinks that sell in high amounts.
Both Daniel and Sedin are quality soft hockey players who put up points in high amounts.
Additionally, arguing about which is better between the two beverages is essentially as pointless as arguing about which of the two twins is better.
10. Jonathan Quick
Rubinoff Vodka and Crystal Light Lemonade
Quick is one of the NHL's top goalies. Rubinoff is actually quite terrible.
So let's explain this one.
Quick takes on a ton of shots per game, but still manages to have one of the league's top save percentages and goals-against averages.
Taking shots of Rubinoff would be difficult considering the cheap alcohol's taste, but when mixed with Crystal Light's lemonade the Rubinoff is almost unnoticeable.
Quick's goaltending skills make the Kings' high shots-against totals less noticeable.
9. Erik Karlsson
Miller High Life
High Life claims to be the "Champagne of Beers."
It can pretend all it wants, but it's just a beer.
Erik Karlsson is in the top 10 in points scored this season. At point-per-game pace, he is far ahead of all other defenseman.
His numbers seem to imply that he's a top-scoring forward, but he's just an excellent offensive defenseman.
8. Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos has been the NHL's top goal-scorer since the start of the 2009-10 season. He should hit a career-high this season, just four shy of the 51 goals he totaled two years ago.
Corona is made famous by commercials in which patrons relax on a beach drinking the beer. Stamkos plays in a warm Tampa environment that is just as relaxing.
Stamkos puts the puck in the net just as frequently as limes are put into Coronas.
7. Shea Weber
Irish Car Bomb
A "car bomb" is a very heavy drink; a cup is filled with Guiness Stout. Then, a half shot of Baileys Irish Cream and half shot of Jameson whiskey are combined into one shot glass.
The shot is dropped into the stout and the heavy drink is consumed.
It is not to be taken lightly, nor is Shea Weber.
He has a very hard shot that would make you wince if you were hit by it. He can hit even harder.
Just as the drink possesses excellent ingredients, Weber possesses excellent skills both offensively and defensively.
6. Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist is very likely going to win the Vezina Trophy this season as the league's top goalie.
He is not a flashy or exciting goalie to watch, but he gets the job done every time and is very smooth in net.
The Belgian brew Stella Artois is also very smooth.
5. Jonathan Toews
Long Trail Double Bag Ale
Not many people understand why Jonathan Toews is of the NHL's top players. He plays a complete game, is an excellent leader and can certainly produce a load of points.
He still goes under the radar a bit, not getting the credit he deserves.
The Vermont-based Long Trail company makes a particularly delicious beer called Double Bag Ale that also flies under the radar.
4. Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin is the NHL's top point producer, and Bud Light is the best selling beer in the world.
He will likely win the Hart Memorial Trophy this season as the league's most valuable player. As the best selling beer, Bud Light is the MVP of Anheuser-Busch.
3. Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux had a breakout season as a star player in 2010-11, totaling 76 points and making it clear to the world that he is an excellent all-around player.
Those assets were shown once again in greater success this year, as Giroux was an early front runner for the Hart Trophy race. He is still in the race for the NHL scoring title.
A Jagerbomb is a drink consisting of the energy drink Red Bull and a shot of Jagermeister.
The energy drink is poured into a cup, the shot of Jager is dropped into the cup and the drink is consumed.
As Giroux is great both offensively and defensively, this drink supplies the effects of both caffeine and alcohol.
2. Pavel Datsyuk
Victory Golden Monkey
Pavel Datsyuk has been the best two-way forward in the NHL for several years. He may not lead the league in points, but he won three consecutive Frank Selke Trophies as the NHL's best defensive forward.
He is the league's best puckhandler and fellow players say he's the hardest player to take the puck away from.
Datsyuk is used to victory as a member of the Red Wings, with whom he's won two Stanley Cups.
Golden Monkey is a particular brew by the Pennsylvania-based company, which boasts nine-and-a-half percent alcohol by volume.
It is certainly not easy to drink (for inexperienced drinkers, at least), just as Datsyuk is not easy to play against.
1. Sidney Crosby
Unrefrigerated bottle of Budweiser
Just like Sidney Crosby, Budweiser is heavily marketed.
And just like Budweiser is to Bud Light, Crosby is a better hockey player than teammate Evgeni Malkin.
(Additionally, there are tons of people who don't care for either of the two despite their popularity. There is plenty to like and dislike about both players and beers.)
Right now, Crosby is not ready to play, much like an unrefrigerated bottle is not ready to drink.
B/R Featured Columnist Jason Sapunka is available on Twitter