Another NHL playoffs, and as per usual, the Pittsburgh Penguins are making a run through the Eastern Conference. Talk has been on the play and injury of Sidney Crosby, goaltending, and the number of injuries the team has on the back end. However, not nearly enough attention has been given to one of the best NHL players of all-time.
Recently, the NHL came out with its list of the top 100 players of all-time, and there was one glaring omission; a player who is currently leading his team, and the NHL playoffs, in scoring with 23 points in 17 games. A player who has averaged 1.078 PPG for his career in the playoffs. A player who has averaged 1.178 PPG in the regular season, good for 14th all-time. All of this in what is considered a low-scoring era in NHL history. That player is Evgeni Malkin, or Geno, as hockey fans know him. Where is he on the list? Why isn’t he in the media every day, during the time of year he regularly helps his team make deep runs?
Let’s compare Malkin to two of his contemporaries who both appeared on the NHL top 100 players list: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
|Player||Points||PPG||Conn Smythe||Stanley Cup|
In terms of individual awards, it is not even close. Malkin has almost as many as the other two combined. In terms of team awards, aka the Stanley Cup (where the GM, coach and 19 other players have a bigger impact than individual awards, in my opinion), Malkin is within one. There is also a good chance that he adds a third Cup this year, and perhaps another Conn Smythe trophy.
I agree that Kane and Toews deserve to be on the NHL Top 100 list. However, all three players are great, yet it appears to me that the best amongst the three is the only one not on the NHL top 100 list, and the one who gets the least attention. Does playing on a team with the face of the NHL actually stop the hockey world from noticing one of the all-time greats?
I will admit the shadow of Sidney Crosby is huge. Crosby is 6th all-time in PPG with 1.313 PPG in the regular season, and 12th all-time in playoff PPG with 1.108. But should this matter? Kane or Toews weren’t punished for playing on a team together. They are considered all-time players now. Messier wasn’t punished for being on the same team as the greatest player of all-time. Malkin has the same amount of scoring titles as Crosby, and won the playoff MVP once as well. Putting up similar numbers as a superstar teammate on a different line should be a positive, not a negative. So why does everyone ignore him (unless he’s arguing with a teammate on the bench)?
Maybe Crosby is too big of a star to compete with. Maybe being a Russian player who doesn’t speak the best English causes people not to care. Maybe it’s the fact he doesn’t play in an Original 6 market or for a Canadian team.
I don’t know why Malkin doesn’t get the attention that he deserves. What I do know, though, is that it is time to start appreciating Geno. It is an absolute pleasure to watch him with the puck, making slick passes and sniping corners from impossible angles. We are watching one of the most skilled hockey players of all-time, and yet we ignore him. I think it’s time that we start watching Evgeni Malkin more intently.