Building the Perfect Player from NHL Skill Sets
NHL scouts are charged with finding the most talented players who will eventually develop into superstars who can dominate the league.
What makes a superstar? Players who can make big plays at key moments on a consistent basis.
To do this, players need great skills in all areas of the game. However, no player is dominant in all aspects. Zdeno Chara may win the hardest shot competition during the All-Star weekend every year, but he is not the fastest skater in the league. Steven Stamkos may be one of the most dangerous goal scorers, but he is far from the leading face-off man.
In this piece, we will try to build the perfect hockey player by combining the skills of the best players in the league.
Skating Speed: Carl Hagelin
When it comes to pure skating speed, Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers is tough to beat.
A lot of fans may want to see Darren Helm of the Detroit Red Wings get the call, but Hagelin's speed is certified.
At last year's All-Star Skills Competition, Hagelin posted the best time in the fastest skater competition with a time of 12.963. That time edged out Colin Greening of the Ottawa Senators with a time of 12.993.
In addition to his timed efforts, Hagelin shows off his speed in games. In any race from his own half of the ice past the opposing goal line, Hagelin is going to win and find a way to come up with the puck and make a play ahead of the opposing defenseman.
Skating Agility: Pavel Datsyuk
When it comes to building the perfect player, we may be better off just selecting Pavel Datsyuk because he does so many things so well on the ice. You will see him more than once on this list.
Skating agility is just one of the many areas where he excels. He can operate in tight quarters, change directions, accelerate and then make a mind-boggling play in the blink of an eye.
His balance on the ice is incredible and he has wonderful instincts that often allow him to break free from defenders when the game is on the line.
Shooting Velocity: Shea Weber
We are fully aware that Zdeno Chara edges out Shea Weber at the All-Star skills competition every year and shoots the puck a few miles per hour harder.
However, in game competition, Weber has the more effective shot. He will not hesitate to fire his rocket, while there are times when Chara will pass up his slap shot and either let go of a wrist shot or pass it to a teammate.
Chara does not always like to take his slap shot if he sees a teammate in front of the net who could find himself in the line of fire. Weber has no such internal governor and will fire away.
Weber connected on 8.3 percent of his shots last season while Chara found the back of the net on 5.4 percent of his shots.
Shooting Accuracy: Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos is the NHL's gold standard when it comes to goal scoring and shooting accuracy.
A few years ago it would have been Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, but Stamkos has taken the lead.
He scored 60 goals last season and he is simply a super shooter who has mastered the one-timer, the wrist shot, the tip-in, the rebound and the backhand. He connected on 19.8 percent of his shots on goal.
He scores clutch goals and he has not reached his ceiling.
Faceoffs: Patrice Bergeron
He's the man that any team would want in the faceoff circle under those circumstances.
Bergeron gets the call because he took 1,641 faceoffs, compared to the 1,137 draws that Toews took.
Bergeron uses his fast hands, strong upper body and super quick reactions to get the edge on his competitors. Bruins head coach Claude Julien knows he can count on Bergeron to win the draw when the game is on the line.
Blocked Shots: Ryan McDonagh
Rangers head coach John Tortorella insists that his team plays defense first and that means doing everything possible to help goalie Henrik Lundqvist by blocking shots.
Ryan McDonagh is one of the premier shot blockers in the league. He finished tied for eighth last year with 182 stops. He will throw his body in front of any of the league's most dangerous shooters. McDonagh sells out every night to help his team win and it shows in his shot blocking.
Stickhandling: Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk is a magician with the puck. His ability to stick handle and fake out defensemen and goalies is without peer.
Send Datsyuk in alone on a breakaway and you are likely to end up with a goalie who ends up embarrassed because of the move that he has just seen.
When Datsyuk is in a shootout, the opposing goalie may end up without his jock as a result of a Datsyukian Deke.
Body Checking: Dustin Brown
Perhaps the most underrated hitter in the NHL is Matt Martin of the New York Islanders, who led the league with 374 hits last year.
However, when it comes to consistently making big hits in key games, it's hard to top Dustin Brown. His hitting played a big role in the Kings' championship run last year. He was second in the league with 293 regular season hits and he continued to pound bodies during the playoffs.
Passing: Henrik Sedin
Henrik Sedin is a bit of a magician with the puck.
He is at his best when he has the puck in the offensive zone and he sees a teammate who may be open by a half-step or less. Sedin may only have a fraction of a second, but he can deliver a pass on the tape with either his forehand or backhand.
Sedin led the NHL with 67 assists last year and that follows a 2010-11 season in which he had 75 helpers. Sedin has consistently put the puck on the money even under duress and that makes him the best passer in the league.
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