Pittsburgh Penguins superstar captain Sidney Crosby.
Canada has produced some of the greatest stars to lace up a pair of skates—Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby being but one of them. Steven Stamkos is a Canadian great with a similar style while Joe Thornton’s reputation makes him a star for other reasons.
Crosby is widely recognized as one of the league’s premier centers. His ability to create plays and weave around the defense is uncanny.
But scoring isn’t the only criteria for greatness.
Different players excel in different areas. Some players are more defensively oriented, while others gain recognition because of their talent as two-way players.
Here are five Canadian greats in the NHL and how they compare to Crosby.
Rick Nash making his entrance before a home game.
Rick Nash is an interesting case.
For all we know, he could have the talent to hang with Crosby in the scoring department. However, his entire NHL career has been spent with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Even though the franchise has been struggling for some time, Nash has still scored 40 or more goals in two seasons. It should be interesting to see how he performs on a Stanley Cup-contending team like the New York Rangers.
Being 6’4” and almost 220 pounds gives Nash a good size advantage that helps him better control the puck. He’s also pretty agile for his size, making him a huge offensive threat. All this blends perfectly with his natural ability to find twine.
There’s no doubt his offensive game will be more comparable to Crosby’s after he spends some time skating as a Ranger.
Steven Stamkos celebrating one of his many goals from this past season.
Like Crosby, Stamkos is also quickly becoming known as a top-tier center.
His ability to notch goal after goal is simply amazing—as evidenced by the fact that he was the first player to reach the 50 goal mark in the 2011-12 season.
Both players play the center position exceptionally well. Crosby’s style leans more towards constructing passing plays while Stamkos tends to be the one to complete the play.
No matter how you look at it, the two of them have a knack for scoring.
Stamkos is one of the few NHL players that can give Crosby a run for his money when it comes to producing goals. It should be fun to watch them continue their battle on the scoresheets for years to come.
Jeff Carter finally got to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Jeff Carter is a Canadian center who broke into the NHL at the same time as Crosby. What Carter lacks in scoring totals compared to Crosby he makes up for in aggression and defensive prowess.
Carter can’t touch Crosby’s scoring numbers like Stamkos can, but he’s more defensively reliable than “Sid the Kid.”
At this point in his career, Carter is remembered most for his time donning the black and orange. Now that he’s reunited with Mike Richards in Los Angeles, Carter should find himself once again becoming the impact player that makes him comparable to Crosby.
When it comes down to it, his time with the Philadelphia Flyers may foreshadow Carter going down in history as a better-rounded player than Crosby.
Joe Thornton celebrating a goal.
At 6’4” and 235 pounds, Joe Thornton is easily one of the NHL’s most intimidating top-line centers. While Crosby is recognized as one of the league’s best playmakers, Thornton stands as one of its best power forwards.
Even with his size and strength, Thornton doesn’t have a reputation as a particularly hard hitter. Instead, “Jumbo Joe” uses his build to emphasize his rugged offensive style.
His vision and elite passing ability actually makes him very similar to Crosby.
Thornton plays a more complete game on both sides of the ice, but is also capable of setting up plays. He’s totaled 50 or more assists in eight of his 15 seasons in the NHL. His 92 assists in one season even surpasses Crosby’s single-season high of 84.
The major difference in their playmaking styles is flashiness. Crosby is one of the most captivating players to watch while Thornton prefers to get down and dirty when putting the puck in the net.
Scott Hartnell working the puck away from Sidney Crosby.
Scott Hartnell possesses an excellent combination of toughness and scoring skill. He’s found much success recently playing left wing on a line with Claude Giroux.
Being centered by Giroux has really brought out Hartnell’s offensive prowess. That’s not to say it was never there—he’s been a solid and reliable offensive contributor ever since coming into his own during his sophomore season.
Hartnell is the kind of player Crosby would love to have on his wing. He positions himself in front of the net to take advantage of rebounds and deflections and is good at forcing his way into the offensive zone.
In short, “Hartsy” is a playmaker’s best friend. He’s not going to make the pass that turns into a goal, but he can be counted on to help start and finish a scoring play.