Sidney Crosby. Alex Ovechkin. Steven Stamkos. Those three are arguably the three biggest stars in the NHL today. What if you were asked the question of who would you compare them to? What if that person has to be a Hall of Famer? Don't worry, I will give you the answers.
One thing I have to say about this list is that age played a factor.
Players like Nik Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne and Martin Brodeur are definitely top 25-caliber players, but they are all most likely in the last season of their careers and all are Hall of Fame bound when they become eligible.
That being said, let's get the list started.
Career Stats: 412 games played, 215 goals, 357 assists, 572 points
Before he got injured, Sidney Crosby was on his way to becoming a more complete player. When his career started, he was known as more of a playmaker. As his career has evolved, he has become even more of a goal scorer while still retaining his playmaking abilities. Once he returns, he will continue his pace that should eventually put him in the greatest player of all time argument.
That being said, I would compare Crosby to a Hall of Famer that he is pretty familiar with. It is...
Career Stats: 915 games, 690 goals, 1,033 assists, 1,723 points
While some of you might not agree, Crosby will eventually challenge Lemieux for the title of best Penguin ever.
Career Stats: 484 games played, 306 goals, 317 assists, 623 points
Almost the exact opposite story of Crosby, Alex Ovechkin was a pure goal scorer who has been learning how to pass. With the now more defensive Washington Capitals, Ovechkin's offensive totals slipped last season, otherwise his career totals would be higher by a pretty wide margin. This season, he should be able to get back to being his original self.
I would compare him to...
Career Stats: 1,431 games played, 668 goals, 726 assists, 1,394 points
What Ovechkin is to the Capitals, Luc Robitaille was to the Los Angeles Kings in his three stints with the team. Also, his goal scoring talent in his first stint with the Kings didn't hurt the comparison either.
Career Stats: 254 games played, 125 goals, 117 assists, 242 points
His career is only three years old so it's harder to make a comparison based only on it. Perhaps in a few years the comparison will change, but for now I have to go with...
Career Stats: 1,278 games played, 524 goals, 901 assists, 1,425 points
Bryan Trottier was one of the most important pieces in the Islanders' dynasty in the 1980s, just as Stamkos will be if the Lightning win another Stanley Cup.
Career Stats: 798 games played, 253 goals, 411 assists, 664 points
Daniel Sedin is one of the more complete players in the game today. He is the more talented goal scorer of the two Sedins, but that's not to say he doesn't know how to pass the puck. If you need proof look at the assist totals above.
I would compare him to...
Career Stats: 1,188 games played, 518 goals, 891 assists, 1,409 points
Perhaps the best Winnipeg Jet of all time, Dale Hawerchuk was one of the most prolific scorers of his time.
Career Stats: 821 games played, 161 goals, 518 assists, 679 points
Henrik Sedin has spent his entire career feeding the puck to his brother Daniel. If there is any Hall of Famer that I could compare him to it is the player that spent a good portion of his career feeding the puck to the greatest player of all time. He is...
Career Stats: 1,251 games played, 601 goals, 797 assists, 1,398 points
As you can see, I didn't compare Daniel Sedin to Wayne Gretzky, but Henrik is to Daniel as Kurri was to Gretzky.
Career Stats: 671 games played, 223 goals, 435 assists, 658 points
Pavel Datsyuk is one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, as shown by his trophy case containing three Selke Trophys. The fact that he is also one Detroit's most offensive forwards is a bonus.
I would compare him to...
Career Totals: 865 games played, 468 goals, 545 assists, 1,013 points
Playing his entire career in the New York-area, Pat LaFontaine produced with each team he was with. It's unfortunate that such a great career was ended early by concussions.
Career Stats: 865 games played, 301 goals, 486 assists, 787 points
Martin St. Louis has single-handedly proven that you don't need to be tall to be successful in today's NHL. The chemistry that he displays with Steven Stamkos is fantastic.
I would compare him to...
Career Stats: 1,030 games played, 283 goals, 289 assists, 572 points
OK, St. Louis already has already eclipsed Duff in points, but they're both small in stature, but huge in ability.
Career Stats: 460 games played, 172 goals, 204 assists, 376 points
The reigning Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner, Corey Perry has finally emerged as an offensive force on the ice. That being said, he is also not afraid to play a tough game.
Sounds a lot like...
Career Stats: 726 games played, 395 goals, 299 assists, 694 points
One of the best power forwards of all time, Cam Neely was never afraid to throw the big hit. He was also just as likely to score a goal in the clutch.
Career Stats: 1,115 games played, 486 goals, 524 assists, 1,010 points
Perhaps the quintessential Flame, Jarome Iginla has been one of the better players in the NHL without getting that much press outside of Canada. His work ethic is a big part of what makes him the player he is, and I would compare him to another former Flame...
Career Stats: 1,111 games played, 500 goals, 506 assists, 1,006 points
The first former Flame inducted into the Hall of Fame, McDonald brought a wealth of experience to the Flames team that won the Stanley Cup in 1989. He might not have been at his best in his later years, but he always worked as hard as he could. Sounds like Iginla, right.
Career Stats: 595 games played, 232 goals, 326 assists, 558 points
Wayne Gretzy once called Henrik Zetterberg one of the most underrated players in the NHL. If he ever was, he is no longer. Zetterberg is a dangerous player, and when placed with Pavel Datsyuk, there's not many other duos that can challenge them.
I would compare him to another former Red Wing...
Career Stats: 921 games played, 169 goals, 475 assists, 644 points
Igor Larionov is one of the best passers of all time and was one of the famed "Russian Five" for the Red Wings in the second half of the 1990s.
Career Stats: 571 games played, 229 goals, 280 assists, 509 points
It's hard to believe that Eric Staal is playing in his eighth NHL season. Having apprenticed under great leaders in Ron Francis and Rod Brind'Amour, he is now the player that young Hurricanes like Jeff Skinner look up to in Carolina.
That being said, I would compare Staal to a player he played only three quarters of a season with...
Career Stats: 1,731 games played, 541 goals, 1,249 assists, 1,798 points
Ron Francis is quite possibly the quintessential Hurricane. Ron Francis ranks in the top five of the NHL in games played, assists and points. I'm not saying that Staal will ever reach Francis' totals, but he could get close.
Career Stats: 440 games played, 130 goals, 292 assists, 422 points
The captain of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf is the glue that holds the Ducks together. He is the leader of the team, he helps on offense and is one of the toughest offensive players in the league.
Sounds a lot like...
Career Stats: 1,756 games played, 694 goals, 1,193 assists, 1,887 points
The ultimate leader in NHL history, Mark Messier was one tough customer for his entire career. Whether it was in Edmonton, New York or Vancouver, he was one of the most feared players on the team.
Career Stats: 312 games played, 119 goals, 154 assists, 273 points
The youngest captain in the NHL, Jonathan Toews was given the "C" at age 20. Nicknamed "Captain Serious," Toews is the Blackhawk's leader in every sense of the word.
Definitely this generations...
Career Stats: 1,514 games played, 692 goals, 1,063 assists, 1,755 points
OK, I know I said that Mark Messier was the ultimate leader, but Steve Yzerman could definitely challenge him for the title. Stevie Y led the Detroit Red Wings for his entire career and is one of the most respected players of all time.
Career Stats: 327 games played, 105 goals, 206 assists, 311 points
One of the best offensive players in the game, it could also be said that Patrick Kane is the most cocky player in the NHL, or at least he used to be. It is only a matter of time before he reaches the 40-50 goal plateau.
When he does, he will definitely look a lot more like...
Career Stats: 752 games played, 573 goals, 553 assists, 1,126 points
Before he entered the NHL, Mike Bossy predicted that he would score 50 goals in his rookie season. He went on to score 53. I would not be surprised if Kane would make such a guarantee.
Career Stats: 244 games played, 33 goals, 94 assists, 127 points
Drew Doughty is another three-season veteran of the NHL, so again, it's hard to find an accurate comparison.
If forced to, I would say he looks like a young...
Career Stats: 1,612 games played, 410 goals, 1,169 assists, 1,579 points
Arguably one of the best defensemen of all time, Ray Bourque had to wait 22 seasons to win the Stanley Cup. I don't think Doughty will have to wait that long.
Career Stats: 412 games played, 81 goals, 138 assists, 219 points
Shea Weber might be known for his hard slapshot, but he throws equally as hard hits. As the highest paid defenseman in the NHL, if he decides to up his play to match his salary, watch out.
I'd compare him to...
Career Stats: 1,635 games played, 196 goals, 712 assists, 908 points
Although not as much as an offensive player that Weber is, Scott Stevens might be the most feared hitter of all time. Just ask Eric Lindros.
Career Stats: 603 games played, 262 goals, 235 assists, 497 points
Rick Nash has spent far too long playing for a team where he was the only noteworthy player. That is no longer the case, but the song remains the same in Columbus. No matter what Nash does, it never seems to be enough for Columbus to do well.
Nash only wishes he had the team of...
Career Stats: 1,129 games played, 498 goals, 601 assists, 1,099 points
When you think of players who were part of the Oilers dynasty in the 1980s, you probably don't think of Glenn Anderson first. That doesn't mean he wasn't an important part of the dynasty. He spent 10 seasons in Edmonton and was surrounded by some of the greatest players of all time.
Career Stats: 711 games played, 371 goals, 337 assists, 708 points
I'm going to keep this one short because, in my opinion, Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the biggest me-first players in the NHL. He might be score a lot, but he doesn't do anything for his team other than cost money. The Devils will soon regret, if they haven't already, handing him all that money.
Quite simply, I would not compare Ilya Kovalchuk to any Hall of Famer. Not because he doesn't have a comparison, but because I would not want to associate a Hall of Famer with Kovalchuk.
Career Stats: 407 games played, 225 wins, .915 SV%, 2.56 GAA
Ryan Miller is quite possibly the best regular season goalie in the NHL. Unfortunately, that doesn't help the Buffalo Sabres when they're in the playoffs.
If Miller can start to win the big games, he will be compared to...
Career Stats: 680 games played, 305 wins
Perhaps the most important piece of the Islanders dynasty in the 1980s, Billy Smith was one of the best goalies of his time. He was the goalie you wanted in net when you needed to win a game. Miller is developing into that type of goalie.
Career Stats: 679 games played, 311 wins, .919 SV%, 2.54 GAA
Roberto Luongo has the potential to be the best goalie of this generation. He has proven that he can win the big game in the Olympics. Unfortunately, he couldn't repeat the feat in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. On any given night, he can be the best goaltender in the game or the worst.
Once he improves his overall consistency, he would be compared to...
Career Stats: 868 games played, 403 wins
Like Smith, Fuhr was the backstop of the Oilers dynasty in the '80s. Grant Fuhr might just be the most underrated of the goalies in the Hall of Fame, but when Wayne Gretzky says that he's the greatest goaltender of all time, that's saying something.
Career Stats: 327 games played, 164 wins, .922 SV%, 2.49 GAA
Tim Thomas emerged in the NHL much later than usual at age 28. He didn't become a starter until the age of 32, showing why his stats are lower than the other two goalies on this list. That being said, Thomas has a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy to his name, the others do not. He could be on his way to the Hall himself one day.
Until then, I would compare him to a former Bruin...
Career Stats: 418 games played, 230 wins
Most known for his iconic mask, Gerry Cheevers was a great goaltender in his own right. Having two Stanley Cups to his name, Cheevers is one of the few Hall of Famers never to have won a Vezina Trophy. Thomas has two Vezina's and one Stanley Cup, so he might be on his way to the Hall himself.
Career Stats: 429 games played, 167 goals, 179 assists, 349 points
The real superstar on the New Jersey Devils, Zach Parise is on his way to making a lot of money when his contract ends. Whether that is with the Devils or another team remains to be seen, but Parise is a gamechanger and will help any team he plays for.
I would compare him to...
Career Stats: 930 games played, 424 goals, 393 assists, 817 points
Playing pretty much his entire NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, Steve Shutt was an all-around player who did everything for the Habs, averaging 32 goals, 28 assists and 29 penalty minutes per season in his 13 year career.
Career Stats: 384 games played, 138 goals, 125 assists, 263 points
Some people would argue that Phil Kessel is not one of the top 25 players in the NHL, but given his hot start, I'm including him. Kessel has one of the best shots in the NHL and when he releases it from point blank range, he rarely misses.
Another player known for his shot...
Career Stats: 1,269 games played, 741 goals, 650 assists, 1,391 points
Cue the comments saying that I'm crazy for comparing these two.
Career Stats: 781 games played, 223 goals, 501 assists, 724 points
Brad Richards has been one of the most consistent players in the NHL for his entire career. He has been the best offensive player on any team he's been on, although he's challenged by Marian Gaborik in New York. If those two get on an offensive hot streak, the Rangers could be a real dangerous team.
I would compare Richards to...
Career Stats: 1,196 games played, 473 goals, 865 assists, 1,338 points
While Richards doesn't have the mastery with the puck that Denis Savard had, they are both known for they're huge assist totals and making the players they play with better.
Career Stats: 1,004 games played, 309 goals, 700 assists, 1,009 points
Having eclipsed both the 1,000 games played and points plateau, Joe Thornton is unquestionably one of the best players of this generation. As one of only three players to have two consecutive 90-assist seasons, he is a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame once he retires.
I would compare him to...
Career Stats: 1,191 games played, 512 goals, 814 assists, 1,326 points
Undeniably the best Buffalo Sabre forward of all time, Gilbert Perreault is still the Sabres leader in all offensive categories.