Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sid and Ovie, The first four years.

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin recently completed their fourth season in the NHL. I wanted to compare the beginning of their careers to those of the all-time greats. The Great One fairly obviously leads with 269 goals over his first four full seasons followed by Mike Bossy at 241 and Brett Hull at 232 (I counted Hull’s first four FULL years as he played only five games in his technical first season). Ovechkin actually rates fourth all time with 219 goals in his first four years in the NHL, four goals ahead of Mario Lemieux. He is ahead of the likes of Luc Robitaille, Peter Stastny, Dale Hawerchuk and Pavel Bure.
As for Goals/Game over the first four years, Gretzky still leads at 0.84 and the top five remain the same except that Maurice Richard at 0.70 Goals/game knocks Ovechkin’s 0.68 down to sixth all-time. The often forgotten Eric Lindros ranks seventh right behind Ovechkin.

When we look at points/game over the first four seasons, once again Gretzky leads at 2.22 well clear of Lemieux’s 1.77. Third through fifth are Stastny at 1.57, Lindros at 1.46 and Bossy at 1.39. Sid the Kid checks in at sixth with 1.37 Pts/GP over one’s first four seasons. Crosby ranks just ahead of Bryan Trottier, Kent Nilsson, Dale Hawerchuk and Denis Savard rounding out the top ten.

Crosby climbs to fifth overall for assist/game over the same period behind the same top three of Gretzky (1.38), Lemieux (1.03) and Stastny (1.00). Peter Forsberg makes an appearance at fourth with 0.92 ahead of Crosby’s 0.91. Somewhat surprisingly, Joe Juneau ranks seventh with 0.87 assists/game. This rate would plummet to 0.37 over his final nine seasons.

Back to Ovechkin, he actually is the leader in two categories over the first four seasons of an NHL career. He is tied with Glenn Anderson with 34 Game Winning Goals, just ahead of Bossy’s 32 and Gretzky’s 30. The one year wonder, Jonathan Cheechoo is fifth at 28.
One category is thoroughly dominated by Ovechkin, over his first four years he has taken an amazing 1791 shots on goal. He is more than 500(!) shots ahead of Gretzky in second place and Pavel Bure in third. A similar dominance is seen in Powerplay goals with Mike Bossy first with 96 PPG well ahead of Ovie’s 78 and Jimmy Carson and Joe Nieuwendyk at 70. We can see that the young guns of today are indeed in the midst of terrific career starts and among the best all-time…. so far,

Another interesting start to a current career is Mike Richards of the Flyers who has scored the most Shorthanded goals in the first four seasons with 19, two ahead of Gretzky and three up on Bure and Guy Carbonneau.

If we look at goaltending, Henrik Lundqvist has had one of the best starts to a career ever with 142 wins in his first four seasons. Terry Sawchuk is first with 155 (not counting his seven game stint in 1949/50). Bill Durnan at 154 wins and Ken Dryden (again, not counting his first six game stint) at 144 are the only two others ahead of Lundqvist. Cam Ward of Carolina rounds out the top five with 120 wins in the four season start to a career.

It is clear that today’s NHL is loaded with young stars who are among the best of all-time.

I have recently been added as a "columnist" for a cool site called the Hockey Barn. I will be posting some of the best of Nitzy's Hockey Den there, nothing that wont be on my own site though. Check it out, and leave comments.
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