Since Sidney Crosby went down with a concussion in early January, hockey fans across the country have been deprived of seeing the game's undisputed best player, save for Crosby's eight game comeback in the last month.
Interestingly, in Crosby's absence, it hasn't been Alex Ovechkin, the consensus second-best player in the world, who has picked up the torch and stepped up into the spotlight, as Ovechkin's play has been uninspiring and unspectacular at best for the last 18 months.
There are a number of theories that have been proposed to explain Ovechkin's disappearing act, including weight gain, unwillingness to adapt as a player and even a far fetched rumor accusing him of steroid use.
Whatever the explanation may be, the former two-time league MVP has been far from the dominant force he once was. And in the absence of both he and Crosby, a number of other players have flourished, each making their own cases for why they should be mentioned in the same breath as Crosby.
With that in mind, here's a look at nine players who appear poised to take Ovechkin's spot as the consensus second-best player in the NHL.