If the Hockey Gods have blessed you this season and you have been lucky enough to receive the 1st overall pick in your fantasy league, stop everything and take a deep breath. We here at DailyFaceoff.com know the anxiety and fear of picking the wrong guy may have you feeling not so lucky, but the truth is if you scored any one of the first three picks you are in great shape. The NHL’s Big 3, Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin are really the only players you should be considering. So of the three who should you take at #1? Let’s take a closer look at the candidates.
Evgeni Malkin (C/LW, Pittsburgh Penguins) As last year’s NHL scoring champ and playoff MVP, Malkin is a strong pick to take home the scoring title again this year. His 113 points last season was 3 three more than Ovechkin and ten more than Crosby had. In 07/08 Malkin proved he can play with or without his teammate Crosby, finishing with 106 points even though Crosby was out of the Penguins lineup for 29 games. Of the three candidates, Malkin also spends the most time in the penalty box with 80,78, and 80 minutes in his first three season. Crosby did have 110 PIMS in his rookie season, but with the added responsibility of being captain his PIMS have decreased and should continue to do so. In many leagues Malkin was granted left-wing status to go along with his center eligibility last season. This isn’t a guarantee for this season, but having winger status sets Malkin and Ovechkin apart from Crosby as scoring left wingers are harder to come by. Last season in the NHL there were 23 centers above 60 points and just 16 left wingers. There were ten centers that hit 80 points last season, but only five left wingers. Malkin has only missed four games in his three season career.
Alexander Ovechkin (LW, Washington Capitals) Theres no doubt about it, Ovechkin is the NHL’s most prolific goal scorer. Ovechkin has scored 219 goals in 324 games so far in his four year career. That turns out to be .68 goals per game which is strides above Malkin’s .48 per game and Crosby’s .46. In many pools, including Yahoo default scoring, points is not a category. This only improves Ovechkin’s worth as goals are normally harder to come by then assists due to the number of playmaking centers (Savard, Thornton, Datsyuk, etc). When it comes to specialty categories (PPG, GWG, etc) Ovechkin is far and away the winner. He has never scored fewer than 16 powerplay goals in a season, which coincidentally is the highest total of Crosby’s career , and is only one goal less than Malkin’s career high. It’s the same story with game winners, Crosby and Malkin are averaging four and five game winners per season respectively, while Ovechkin is averaging eight and a half. Some leagues include shots on goal as a stat (ridiculous), this one’s not even a contest. Ovechkin is far and away the league leader in hurling pucks at the twine. Ovechkin has only missed four games in his career and 3 of them were while he was away visiting his sick grandfather. The fact that he thinks he can score 90 goals in a season is downright scary.
Sidney Crosby (C, Pittsburgh Penguins)
Looking at Crosby’s career stats he is averaging 1.37 points per game which bests Ovechkin’s 1.29 and Malkin’s 1.26. But of the three candidates, Crosby is the only one to have missed significant time to injury, playing in only 53 games in 07/08. He is also the only one to not reach the 40 goal mark in a season, a mark that is practically a guarantee for Ovechkin. Crosby did show us he can score goals if need be as he led the playoffs with 15,but don’t expect Crosby becoming a 50-plus goal scorer anytime soon receiving passes from Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin. Crosby’s lack of durability and goal scoring make him third on our list, he could easily run away with the scoring title.
The Conclusion: The player you should select depends on the scoring categories of your league. In a league that includes goal scoring of any type as its own category Ovechkin is your guy. If the the league is based strictly on total points then Malkin is the safe bet, but if you are feeling risky you can take Crosby. If the your league includes a stat for the most camera time on CBC during the Stanley Cup Playoffs then you won’t lose with Crosby.