Top 10 NHLers Who Would Transition Well to the NFL
Hockey is a sport filled with players focusing on a specific role on the ice. Some players are there to shut down the other team's top scorers. Others are a team's offensive lifeblood.
Football is similar to hockey. Each player on the field has a job to focus on, and try to accomplish their job to the best of their ability.
This list isn't necessarily composed of players who could play in the NFL, but whose style of game translates to that of various positions on the gridiron.
Sidney Crosby has been the face of the National Hockey League since the moment he entered the league in 2005. Year after year, Crosby is at the top in points accrued and MVP talk.
His play and style makes him a threat every shift, and he commands that your eyes are on him every time he hits the ice.
Like a quarterback throwing up passes to wide receivers, Crosby has the ability to feed the puck to teammates to score. Also like a QB, when nothing is open, Crosby has the ability to make things happen by himself.
Patrick Kane—Half Back
In football, a half back has to be able to take the puck from deep behind the line of scrimmage and get through the defensive line to break through the secondary.
Patrick Kane has the speed and stick-handling ability to take the puck from behind his own blue line, get through forwards and the defense and then bury the puck behind the goalie.
Need proof? Ask Michael Leighton of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Barely old enough to legally drink alcohol, Kane already has a Stanley Cup-clinching overtime goal for the Blackhawks.
Kane has the speed and footwork that rival top running backs in the NFL like Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush.
Zdeno Chara—Defensive End
Very few players inflict fear on the ice like defenseman Zdeno Chara. At 6 feet 9 inches tall and 255 pounds, Chara is the biggest, most brooding defenseman in the NHL.
Chara uses his size like a defensive end, similar to Ray Lewis. And like Lewis, Chara is the captain of the Boston Bruins, leading by example.
Chara hits not only against the boards and in the corners, but at open ice, making forwards think twice about skating up the middle.
Like Chara, Pronger is one of, if not the most- feared players in the NHL. He'd make a great linebacker charging at the quarterback and looking to inflict damage.
Pronger is known throughout the league as a dirty player who will do anything he can to finish a check, and intimidate the opposition. Whether that is ethical or not, Pronger really doesn't care.
He's been successful everywhere he's gone, having been to the Stanley Cup finals with three different teams, the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, and Philadelphia Flyers—winning one championship with the Ducks in 2007.
Few members of this list, if any, could have a career in the NFL, but Pronger is one that you can make a case for. He logs 25-plus minutes a game, and is fast for his size.
Alexander Ovechkin—Wide Receiver
Simply put, get Alexander Ovechkin the puck, and he will score.
Years back, former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson said "Give me the damn ball." Alex the Great has made a career off that philosophy, scoring no less than 46 goals in his first five seasons in the NHL.
Like an elite WR, A.O. demands double coverage. Playing against Ovechkin, you can't allow him to beat you. Unfortunately, he usually does. Teams will put their top defensive pairs against him in hopes of containing the sniper.
Ovechkin, year after year, has a highlight reel of goals and plays, much like many top wide receivers in the NFL.
Mike Richards—Full Back
Mike Richards is quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in the NHL. He brings a little bit of everything to the table, but would fit well in the NFL as a full back.
Richards gets his hands dirty fighting in front of the net and scrapes away to get the loose pucks and garbage. Like a fullback, he creates openings for line mates to make plays happen. He sticks up for his teammates and isn't scared to drop the gloves with anyone in the league.
He is one of the youngest captains in the NHL and has already led his team to the Stanley Cup finals.
Dustin Byfuglien—Tight End
Maybe the purest NHLer who can make the crossover to the gridiron would be Dustin Byfuglien. If he were to be a football player, he'd be a tight end. Byfuglien can play both sides of the puck, and like a tight end, his job changes from situation to situation.
He can play a shutdown role on the blue line one shift, and the next be stationed in front of the net on the power play. He scored big time goals for the Backhawks last season in their run to the playoffs before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers.
At 6 feet 4 inches tall, 257 pounds, Byfuglien is one of the biggest and most physical players in the NHL.
Brooks Orpik—Offensive Guard
The Penguins have been one of the most successful teams since the lockout. They went to two consecutive Stanley Cup finals, winning in 2009. The reason for their resurgence has been the core of players to come up through the organization, including defenseman Brooks Orpik.
Orpik defines the role of an offensive guard. He prevents the opposition from making plays in Pittsburgh's end of the ice. He cleans house in front and behind the net, much like an offensive guard does in front of his quarterback.
Although not the flashiest defenseman in the NHL, his game and success speaks for itself. It is a major reason for the Penguins' success the last couple seasons.
The safety is the last line of defense. If all else breaks down, you must rely on the safety to pick up the pieces and stop the other team from scoring, much like a goaltender in hockey.
Henrik Lundqvist put up great numbers last season for a team that gave him little support night after night offensively. He won games on his own, and brought the Rangers to the brink of a playoff spot.
He is the first goaltender in NHL history to record 30-plus wins in his first five seasons, establishing himself as a top goaltender in the league.
Although a Stanley Cup has eluded him thus far in his career, he did win Olympic Gold in 2006.
Lundqvist is as important to his team as an Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu are for their teams.
Centers in football are often referred to as team captain. They direct others on the field of what to do and have authority over younger players. Is there any player in the NHL that better shows those qualities than Nick Lidstrom?
He is a four-time Stanley Cup champion, including the first European-born player to captain a team to a Stanley Cup championship.
He also won Olympic gold in 2006 as captain of the Sweedish Team.
Lidstrom is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and will have his number retired in Hockey Town—where he has spent his entire career playing for the Detroit Red Wings.