April 17, 2006

Crosby becomes the youngest player to record 100 points: and becomes just the seventh rookie to reach that mark, behind Ovechkin just last week. Yet, Ovechkin remains the runaway Calder favourite -- should Crosby be re-evaluated? Should the age difference be a factor? Or is Phaneuf overlooked because of his position? Whatever the debate, there's no arguing that this was the NHL's best ever rookie crop.

posted by mkn to hockey at 09:44 PM - 29 comments

Obviously, the double rookie class makes things more difficult, but this has been a hell of a year for rookies. Ovechkin, Crosby, Phaneuf, Boyes, Svatos (before his injury), Lundqvist, Miller, Niitymaki...all of them would have been top-tier Calder Trophy candidates in almost any other season. I'd give it to Ovechkin because he's been the most dynamic of the bunch. I'd give it to Crosby because he's the youngest and handled the pressure amazingly well. I'd give it to Phaneuf because he's playing at the hardest position as a rookie and might even win the Norris Trophy. If either of those three win, I'd have no problem. I really hope the NHL uses these players as part of their 2006-07 marketing campaign. (side note: As a Leaf fan, it was good to see such a good crop in Toronto as well: Steen might be the next stalwart captain, Wellwood the sniper and White the stay-at-home defenceman the Leafs need in the future.)

posted by grum@work at 10:04 PM on April 17, 2006

Crosby was the only thing Pittsburgh had going for them. I have the feeling he will have many more great years in front of him. I wonder if they will be in Pittsburgh?

posted by dbt302 at 10:10 PM on April 17, 2006

Crosby lived up to the hype surrounding him. The biggest suprise was where Pittsburg finished in the standings. I'd give Lunquist the nod, goalie being the most important position and all, plus the Rangers are not in the playoffs with Kevin Weeks in net all year. A compelling case can be made for the other big three rookies this year (I haven't seen enough of Dion Phaneuf as I'd like to have) and Marke Svatos Locos before he injury. The NHL has a real bright future with this last two crops of rookies.

posted by HATER 187 at 10:12 PM on April 17, 2006

Crosby is the Lebron of the NHL and Ovechkin is Carmello

posted by BigSpizznizzle at 10:54 PM on April 17, 2006

I don't know who Carmello is (NBA ignorant, here), but I've seen Ovechkin compared to the great MJ round these parts. Ovechkin, Crosby, Lundqvist, Phaneuf and Svatos would all be deserving, but I have to go with Ovechkin, because on top of his great season, he scored the goal, and has driven kids everywhere to make homemade highlight reels of his antics. He's selling the game.

posted by qbert72 at 11:25 PM on April 17, 2006

I think Ovechkin is better because he did ge the milestone first, but he is older so crosby might get better and beat ovechkin.

posted by united-soccer at 12:02 AM on April 18, 2006

i think we have to put numbers aside and look what each player meant to his team. In that case i would difinatly give the nod to Phaneuf. He plays a tougher position, plays power plays and stands out on a team with a strong defensive core. He earnt his ice time by playing better than good players not being a kid and the best on a bad team. It saddens me that the eastern voters will have thier blinders on and miss out on a gem of a player with an eaqually bright of a future as the other yonug forwards.Do Cros and Ovech get the same numbers on a team where they are not the teams best players and have to earn there way onto the first or second line? All were great and the league can only go uphill with young talent like this years crop, i only hope that Dionne gets a fair look

posted by patch606 at 12:35 AM on April 18, 2006

I give it to Ovechkin, because goals are more important than assists. Assists are too freely given out, I think. It's easy to imagine lots of scenarios where a player who doesn't contribute anything to a particular goal ends up with an assist next to his name. Harder to imagine the goalscorer having little to do with the play. In AO's case, he frequently does all the goalscoring work himself. Being an Eastern Bastard, I haven't seen nearly enough of Phaneuf to make much of an evaluation. The little I have seen was damned impressive. Same goes for Svatos.

posted by Succa at 07:29 AM on April 18, 2006

Assists are too freely given out, I think. I tend to agree with this statement. Sometimes the player getting the second assist was just passing the puck to move it up the ice. What about the guys who stand in front of the net? They go there night after night getting the shit beat out of them (well, not as much this year with the new rules) to screen the goalie? The only time they get on the scoreboard is if they deflect a pass in to the net. If not, hardly anyone will know just how valuable that guy is. Damn, give him a sticker on his helmet or something. Let him know he's loved...

posted by wingnut4life at 07:46 AM on April 18, 2006

I don't think many of Crosby's assists weren't earned. Much like Ovechkin, he was far-and-away his team's best player. I don't think that is a good reason to pick one over the other. Take a look a Joe Thornton - He'll either win or be the runner-up in the Hart, and it's because of his playmaking. Not to mention the fact that there is a reason that assists count for as many points as goals. But, I pick Ovchkin because he had the best year. Crosby's year was phenomenal - but unfortunately came in the "Year of the Rookie" - where he was outplayed by Ovechkin who's game is simply one of the top five in the whole damn league. He may even be the best player in the NHL - with the skating, hitting and shooting of the GODS. Fuck it - I love him. But I still think (and want to go on the record) that Crosby will have the more impressive career. This kid is about to start throwing up 120-30-40 point seasons. He is 18 in his first year of pro hockey. Ovechkin has two years of Super League under his belt. I also think that Crosby's 108 penalty minutes are impressive. He's not shy. But I also have a man-crush on Phaneuf. What a fantastic hockey player. He is Scott Stevens with a slap shot and already one of the most impressive players in the league. A game changer with or without the puck. And the hits... Oh Baby. I can't get enough Flames hockey - and it ain't because of Iginla anymore. Any other year we'd be talking about Lundqvist - but his year is not totally unusual in the annals of the NHL. Were I a Rangers fan I wouldn't worry about the award (he won't get it - and shouldn't), I'd be happy I've got him. All in all, though - what a crop, what a bright future for the game. These guys are all phenomenal.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:09 AM on April 18, 2006

On Saturday's 'satellite hotstove' one talking head brought up the idea of having east and west awards, which made some sense to me. Since these awards are voted on by the sportswriters, and there is a geographic bias towards the east coast (mostly due to time zones and something called "regular business hours") it could be very easy for western conference players to get overlooked. Something to think about. With that said, AO gets my vote. The guy is simply amazing. But there is something else he has given his team apart from 72% of its offense. His less skilled teammates seem to be trying that move they work on in practice more frequently in game situations. He is giving them confidence to try things on the ice they normally wouldn't. They see him do the unthinkable, and I think they are starting to believe they can elevate their games as well. Maybe I give him too much credit, but I really think that by his example he is making his teammates more imaginative, more assertive, and hopefully more better.

posted by garfield at 08:35 AM on April 18, 2006

Ovechkin gets my vote, though i also must say i've seen very little of Phaneuf. That said, Crosby's accomplishment is nuts if you think about it. He doesn't turn 19 until August. I think back to what i was doing when i was 5 months from being 19... Also, I really like that East/Wet awards idea... Kinda like AL/NL awards. I haven't seen a like of Western Hockey this year so that would be fair, and also good for the fans.

posted by SummersEve at 09:24 AM on April 18, 2006

Sometimes the player getting the second assist was just passing the puck to move it up the ice. Every defenseman who orchistrates a breakout or sends an up ice pass through the neutral zone racks up points this way. What about the guys who stand in front of the net? Lots of goals that are a direct result of net chrasing are also a result of give and go plays. The guy chrasing the net can also be the guy who starts the play. John Leclair perfected this play in 1997.

posted by HATER 187 at 09:39 AM on April 18, 2006

I like the idea of East/West awards too. Hockey is even more Eastern-biased than the NBA. And with the new schedule where you play your own conference four times as much as the other conference, it just starts to make too much sense. I would suggest that they do this for all the awards except the Hart and Art Ross.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:42 AM on April 18, 2006

With the way the league has rescheduled games I think it would be a great idea to give out awards for the East and West. After all there are 5 teams in the west I didn't get to see. However that still wouldn't settle the Ovechkin/Crosby conundrum. I'm giving my vote to Ovechkin because he seems to have the better attitude and shows a lot more enthusiasm. Not to mention The Goal. I bet if they made a highlight reel of both players, AO's would be longer in duration and more exciting to watch. Every defenseman who orchistrates a breakout or sends an up ice pass through the neutral zone racks up points this way. and goalies.

posted by njsk8r20 at 09:53 AM on April 18, 2006

Sometimes the player getting the second assist was just passing the puck to move it up the ice. Sure, but it's not like assist totals are out of control. Only three players in history have ever had more than 100 assists in a year. And they're three of the best players of all-time - Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr. I don't think their totals are suspect in the least. Everybody plays by the same point-accumulation rules. And if goals are more important that assists that means that Dino Ciccarelli, Pat Verbeek and Dave Andreychuk are historically more important players than Adam Oates, Ron Francis and Doug Glimour. But they're not. Every defenseman who orchistrates a breakout or sends an up ice pass through the neutral zone racks up points this way. Okay, but if it's so easy then why are the best defencemen in terms of assists - Ray Bourque, Brian Leetch, etc. the best defencemen anyway? Because they can make that pass. It's not a gimme, people. Anyway - there are a few cheap assists for sure, but there are also quite a few cheap goals. I'm a big supporter of the assist. The best players always seem to have a lot of assists. Some of the best goal scorers are more of the no-defense playing, cherry-picking, minus player variety.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:02 AM on April 18, 2006

Phaneuf and Lundqvist have been great this year. So has Crosby. The trophy has to go to Ovechkin, though. He is the Caps. They have scored a total of 226 goals this year, and Ovechkin has 52 of them. He's accounted for 23% of their goals! That's an absolutely obscene number for a rookie. (Just for comparison, Cheechoo has 21%, Jagr has 22%, and Crosby has 16% of their respective team's goals.) He's the only guy on that entire team that can create at all, so the opposition will regularly trap him and always design their defense for pretty much the sole purpose of stopping him. As bad as the Penguins are, Recchi, LeClair, and Gonchar are all solid players, particularly when you compare them to Dainius Zubrus, Brent Willsie, and Chris Clark, the best of Ovechkin's help. What really does it for me, though, is that Ovechkin is a much more all around player than Crosby. He gets back and plays better defense, is far tougher and loves to deliver the big hit. I can't wait to see the Caps put some talent around him. I can see him getting 120-130 points a year with someone to play with.

posted by fatfryar at 10:20 AM on April 18, 2006

Iím going with Ovechkin, too. I watched a fair amount of both the Caps and the Pens this year, and I have to say that Ovechkin is pretty clearly the better player right now. Crosby may well go on to have a better career, at this point Ovechkin is your Calder trophy winner, and not just because of his point totals. Heís a better two-way player than Crosby, and is a vicious checker to boot. I have to admit that I didnít see a single Flames game this year. I hear great things about Phaneuf, but Iíve never seen them for myself. I feel bad for Lundquist, who would likely be a leading candidate in any other year. He may not be quite as important to his team as Crosby or Ovechkin are, but the Rangers certainly donít look the same with Kevin Weekes in goal. On Preview: Pretty much exactly what fatfryar said.

posted by Samsonov14 at 10:38 AM on April 18, 2006

My point was merely that goals are a better indicator than assists because assists are more susceptible to being gratuitously tacked-on. You can have an unassisted goal but you can't have an un-goaled assist. And so on. That's why I give the nod to goals in the rookie race. It's not that assists aren't important. They are merely less important on the whole.

posted by Succa at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2006

how does the voting work? is it like baseball where each players ranked 1-10? could there be a case where Crosby and Ovechkin end up splitting votes and someone else swoops in to take it?

posted by goddam at 11:02 AM on April 18, 2006

Can we still do the stickers on helmets? I'm not in any way, shape or form advocating the elimination of the second assist. I am just trying to stick up for the demolition men in front of the net. Not the ones crashing the net, because their impact to the game is well known. I'm speaking for the guys who day-in and day-out sacrifice their bodies in front of the net. Unselfishly taking slashes, hacks, cross-checks and spears to the back of their bodies for the sole purpose of deflecting a pass or screening a shot. I'm not taking anything away from the superstars or any other blue-collar player in the game, just trying to give credit where credit is due. As far as Rookie of the Year, my vote is for Ovechkin. Crosby is the real deal, but Ovechkin has a more all-around game. But my favorite rookie is Phaneuf. The man is a beast, who can flat out play the game.

posted by wingnut4life at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2006

What about the guys who stand in front of the net? They go there night after night getting the shit beat out of them (well, not as much this year with the new rules) to screen the goalie? The only time they get on the scoreboard is if they deflect a pass in to the net. If not, hardly anyone will know just how valuable that guy is. Damn, give him a sticker on his helmet or something. Let him know he's loved... I remember how well Dino Ciccarelli used to be at that. I remember watching a long distance game with my late father (he was in Mich on his computer and we we're emailing back and forth during the game) and Dino was taking the goalie stick up between his legs so many times and so hard that you'd swear he had to be a eunuch, if not at the start of his career certainly by the end of it.

posted by commander cody at 12:11 PM on April 18, 2006

Dino was taking the goalie stick up between his legs so many times and so hard that you'd swear he had to be a eunuch, He didn't get enough of those. Ciccarelli was a punk and deserved all the "splitters" he got. Ptui! /remembers Ciccarelli hitting Luke Richardson in the head/shoulders with a two-handed stick-swing The Ovechkin/Crosby comparison reminds me of the Magic/Bird comparison of the 1980s. All that is missing is moving one of them over to the west coast.

posted by grum@work at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2006

It's too bad niether of them are in the playoffs. Both of them seem to be big game players. For all those who didn't get to see Phaneuf, you will now - he is truly a big game performer. Hell, my team didn't even make it in and I'm still stoked (toked?) about the playoffs.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:58 PM on April 18, 2006

Another vote for Ovechkin. He's better than Crosby, right now. That might be age, or experience or whatever, but that doesn't matter. If Crosby had have really cared about the Calder, he should have stayed in the minors another year. Somehow, I don't think it will bother him all that much.

posted by fabulon7 at 01:25 PM on April 18, 2006

Ciccarelli was a punk and deserved all the "splitters" he got. I always thought it was the height of irony that he got so high-and-mighty when it came to Claude Lemieux: "I can't believe I had to shake this guy's freakin' hand..." Shut up, Dino, you mutt.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 01:58 PM on April 18, 2006

Shut up, Dino, you mutt. Awesome. Just awesome.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:26 PM on April 18, 2006

Weedy, I thinks we're on the same side of the argunent here. My point was that assisits were a good way of quantifing a power forward or defensemens offensive conribution to a team. Guys like Lidstrom or Larry Murphy deserve everyone of those points for their offensive contribution to their club, or in Murphy's case clubs. The breakout is one of the most inmportant aspects of a teams offense and having a good pucking moving defenseman really helps move things along so to speak. What was this thread about anyhow?

posted by HATER 187 at 03:58 PM on April 18, 2006

Ask Jonathan Cheechoo if assists matter. I bet if they made a highlight reel of both players, AO's would be longer in duration and more exciting to watch. There's a top ten video at the bottom of the page I linked, http://tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?fid=10453&hubname= it's a little oldish though.

posted by mkn at 06:15 PM on April 18, 2006

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