Crosby, Malkin or Stamkos? Who Is the Best Player Heading into 2012-13?

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Crosby, Malkin or Stamkos? Who Is the Best Player Heading into 2012-13?
Harry How/Getty Images
Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL MVP in 2011-12. Is he the best player in hockey for 2012-13?

The Pittsburgh Penguins, at 7-1, are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13. Those odds are increased largely due to the fact that they have two of the most talented players in the game of hockey, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

It's no surprise that Crosby is one of the top talents in the game. The Penguins thought he was the best player in a loaded 2005 draft class and selected him first.

That 2005 class also produced players like Bobby Ryan, Carey Price, Devin Setoguchi, T.J. Oshie and teammate Kris Letang, just to name a few. 

The year before Sid the Kid captivated the hockey world, Russian players turned heads.

In 2004, the first two picks of the draft came from Russia. Alex Ovechkin went first to the Washington Capitals, and then the Pens selected Malkin.

Those were back-to-back years for the Pens where they snagged arguably the best player in the game. It's no wonder they are constantly in talks for the Stanley Cup.

Malkin certainly hasn't taken a backseat to Crosby when it comes to performance in Pittsburgh. Malkin averages well over a point per game in his six years in the NHL.

After winning the Hart Trophy, Malkin makes a strong case that he is the best player in the league.

The best player in the league that doesn't wear a Penguins jersey took the hockey world by storm again in 2008—Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos was selected No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning and wasted no time climbing the ranks of the NHL elite.

Last season, Stamkos netted 60 goals. He is one of only 19 players to score 60 goals or more in a season.

The 22-year-old is two years younger than Crosby and three years younger than Malkin, but his name has become a fixture in MVP conversation year after year.

So who is the best player in 2012-13?  

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