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Canada, AB • Canada • 4 Years Old • Male
Much debate has taken place as to where Sid the kid is going end up when compared to the all time greats. Most I talk to believe he is going to finish top 5 and has the potential to finish as the greatest player of all time....until the next one comes along. So what measures can you use to compare players across generations? Many say that todays players would dominate any other time, and they are probably right. However to be fair, the environment of the player would have to be leveled across all time frames. For example you simply just can't take Vinny out of 2007, place him in the 60's and claim that he is the most dominate player of the generation. You would have to take Vinny from birth and place him in a 1940's home, no trainer, no modern exercise equipment, no specialized food, no special coaching etc etc. Since it is not possible to do this, the only logical way to compare players is to stack them up against current competition, measuring how much better or worse they are compared to the best of their time.

Before we can place Sid in his potential slot in history, we must decide who is currently leading the pack. My "top five" of all time would be some combination of the following:

1. Gretz
2. Orr
3. Howe
4. Mario
5. Rocket

Comparing Sid to Orr is obviously difficult since they play different positions, Howe and Rocket played much different games. So I believe the most accurate comparison is with Gretz and Mario. You may argue that one of the other plays a more complete or plays a more physical game, however all three are offensive dynamo's and they were paid to produce offense, not tight checking.

So how does Sid stack up against his peers vs Gretz and Mario against their peers?

Over Gretz first three years (18 - 20), he produced the following numbers:

Games Points PPG Improvement/regression PPG below or above League leader
79 137 1.73 .02 Above
80 164 2.05 Plus 19% .36 Above
80 212 2.65 Plus 29% .81 Above

- All three years Gretzky led the league in PP/g, widening his margin from .02 PPG to .36 to .81 PPG ahead of the next leading scorer clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the league

- Gretzky continued to improve his production, peaking at the age of 22 with 2.77 PPG, his production was close to 2 points/game up until the age of 30, when he began producing at a more pedestrian rate of 1.6 PPG

- Over a 1487 game career, Gretzky averaged 1.92 PPG

- From 18 - 20 Gretzky averaged 2.14 PPG

- His prime could be considered from 18 to 29, he lead the league PPG each year, with a margin from .02 PPG to 1.19 PPG ahead of his nearest competitor.

Gretzky was clearly the best offensive player in the game from 19 to 29.

Mario Joined the league at 19, his first three year production is as follows:

Age Games Points PPG Improvement/regression PPG below or above League leader

19 73 100 1.37 1.23 Below
20 79 141 1.79 Plus 31% .9 Below
21 63 107 1.7 Minus .05 .62 Below

Though Mario seemed to be substantially lagging behind the league top producers, he was trailing Gretzky in his prime, compared to the rest of the league, even at 19, 20, 21, Mario was producing at a much better clip then anyone else.

- By Mario's second year, he was consistently 1st/2nd in the league in PPG (behind only Gretzky.

- During Mario's first three years he averaged 1.62 PPG

- Over his 915 game career, he averaged 1.88 PPG

- Mario could be considered in his prime from 20 - 27 when he averaged 2.1 PPG

Crosby, like Gretzky, joined the league at 18. His first three year stats are as follows (averaged to a full year for this season)

Age Games Points PPG Improvement/regression PPG below or above League leader
18 81 102 1.26 . .28 Below Thorton, 6th overall
19 79 120 1.52 Plus 21% .13 Above Thorton
20 34 46 1.35 Minus 11% .19 Below Spezza,7th overall

- Excellent numbers? You bet, clearly the best in the league? No.

- Compared to the league for PPG Crosby is the following

18 - 6th overall, .28 PPG behind Thorton
19 - 1st overall, .13 PPG ahead of Thorton
20 - 7th overall, .19 PPG behind Spezza

Both Gretzky and Mario clearly dominated the league within the first year or two playing, while Crosby is playing great hockey, he has been matched by a number of peers.

Both Gretzky and Lemieux were very close to career highs in PPG early in their careers, Crosby could blossom further, however Gretzky from first year to peak production Gretzky raised his production by 60% (age 24) from 1.73 PPG to 2.77 PPG, and from .02 PPG ahead of the nearest competition to 1.19 PPG ahead of the competition. Assuming a similar assent in Crosby's game (a 60% increase to peak) Crosby's top year would be 2.016. Mario's production went from a rookie season of 1.37 PPG to a high of 2.67 PPG (age 27) an increase of 95%, if Sid were to have a similar career path, his top PPG would be 2.46 PPG. Obviously we wont know for years how Crosby actually does stack up against Mario and Gretzky, and the rest of the greats, he may still end up as the greatest offensive player of all time, however to do so he will need to substantially increase his production compared to his peers within the next few years.

Here are some numbers for players that most closely resemble Sidney's during there first few years

Games Points PPG Improvement/regression PPG below or above League leader

61 75 1.23 1.03 Behind Mario .53 behind Pat L
65 97 1.49 Plus 21% .12 Behind Gretz .03 Ahead of Federov
46 70 1.52 Plus 2% .06 Ahead of Jagr
73 115 1.58 Plus 4% .72 Behind M .24 Behind Jagr .12 Ahead of Sakic
52 79 1.52 Minus 4% .08 Behind Mario .9 Ahead of Kariya
63 71 1.13 Minus 26% .19 Behind Jagr .13 Behind Forsburg .04 Ahead of Bure
71 93 1.31 Plus 16% .26 Behind Jagr .12 Behind Temmu .08 Ahead of Kariya

This is Eric Lindros's first seven years, you can see that his numbers are very similar to Crosby's. He is also consistantly in the top 5 PPG scorers in the league (leading the lead in PPG his 3rd year)

Age Games Points PPG Improvement/regression PPG below or above League leader

19 80 95 1.19 .37 Behind Lafleur 11th overall
20 76 72 0.94 Minus 21% .76 Behind Lafleur
21 77 123 1.59 Plus 69% .08 Behind Lafleur 2nd overall
22 76 134 1.76 Plus 11% .14 Ahead of Dionne
23 78 104 1.33 Minus 24% .38 Behind Dionne 4th overall
24 73 103 1.41 Plus 6% .27 Behind Dionne 5th overall
25 80 129 1.61 Plus 14% .22 Behind Bossy 5th overall

This is Bryan Trottier first 7 years, his production is also very similar to Crosby's, consistantly in the top 5 in PPG after his second year, leading the league in his third year.

Now I do believe that Crosby will have a more offensively proficient career then both Lindros and Trottier (though if Lindros wouldn't have had the injury problems, then I do believe his career production would be very similar to Crosby). So where would this put Crosby all time at the end of his career? My best guess today, would be that he would fall somwhere in between Gretz and Mario and the Lindros (pre injury) Trottier caliber players. Likely top 10, however hitting the top 5 will take a substantial increase in production. The best part is that we will have the fortune of watching him chart out his path.
Filed Under:   Crosby  
December 21, 2007 12:24 PM ET | Delete
Why are you talking down on Crosby as an all-time player 3 years into his career. It is absolutely irrelevant right now. Orr started his career slow, Gordy how as a right winger didnt reach 100 points until he hit his 23rd year in the league, and Mario lemieux started pretty much at the same point pace as sidney has started his career. Your comparisons are mute at this time... the kid has about 15 years left in his career.
December 21, 2007 12:43 PM ET | Delete
Lemieux started out at a substantially better pace.
December 21, 2007 1:14 PM ET | Delete
Howe played a different game...and a much shorter season his place in history is earned as much for his duribility and overall hockey ability as it was for his point production. The comparisons are certainly relavent, as I'm comparing his first three years to the first three years of the all time greats. Can he increase his production compared to his peers at a quicker pace the Gretzky or Mario did? Sure, but I wouldn't bet on it.
December 21, 2007 1:31 PM ET | Delete
How did lemieux start at a much better pace when he had 348 points his first two seasons and Crosby right now has 268 already with an entire 2nd half to go? Not to mention mario was in a time where scoring was alot higher then it is now.
December 21, 2007 1:33 PM ET | Delete
Message Postedand why would you not bet on crosby increasing his production at a fast pace when the team around him continues to get better and is a young talented team. What happens when they make a move to bring in a solid scoring winger to play with Crosby? You then are looking at Crosby, Malkin, and that Winger on the PP and Crosby is now player with another threat other then himself. You are way out of touch on this and just simply do not get to see Crosby enough to realize how good he really is.
December 21, 2007 2:19 PM ET | Delete
To be fair you need to use PPG not points (since Mario had minor injuries at the start of his career) Mario's PPG is substantially higher. You can negate the higher scoring era by comparing points a player recieves vs points a team scores. I have that info at home, I will add it later, however both Gretz and Mario were in on a substantially higher amount of their teams goals.
December 21, 2007 2:21 PM ET | Delete
I said I wouldn't bet on him increase his production at a FASTER pace then what Gretz and Mario increased thiers. I based this on the fact that over 2.5 years crosby has increased his production at a slower clip then Mario/Gretz.
December 21, 2007 5:10 PM ET | Delete
well considering during Mario's third season his point production decreased as well... that really doesn't make sense.
December 21, 2007 5:38 PM ET | Delete
Year one Mario scored at a 1.7PPG clip a 24% increase from his rookie year. So far in Sid's 3rd year he is scoring at a 1.35 PPG clip a 7% increase from his rookie year. So it does make sense. Mario was 24% more productive in year three vs his rookie year while Sid is 7% more productive in year three compared to his rookie year. All numbers say that through 2.5 years, Crosby hasn't been as dominate as Gretz or Mario.
December 21, 2007 5:44 PM ET | Delete
As I said in other places on this site, I can see Crosby finishing somewhere around Ron Francis in terms of points.
December 21, 2007 5:46 PM ET | Delete
and might I add excellent work on the research. While numbers don't tell the whole story, it's certainly substantial evidence.
December 21, 2007 6:21 PM ET | Delete
Thanks, it was actually really fun to do. Like you said numbers don't tell the whole story, but it's all we have that's indisputable. Also, that's why guys like Howe get bumped up, he wasn't amazing offensively, but he had amazing longevity and brought the other aspects to the game, match that with very very good offense and you have a "top 5" guy.After looking at the numbers, I have a feeling Sid's going to end up somewhere between the Sakic and Francis and the Gretz and Mario, say maybe 6-10th overall (likely where Lindros would have finished as well if he didn't have the injury problems
December 21, 2007 6:21 PM ET | Delete
too early in a career for a question like this about a player...
December 21, 2007 6:33 PM ET | Delete
You don't think it's fun to speculate? I'm trying to get an idea where he is going to rank and I'm comparing it against all time greats when they were the same age as Sid is. Obviously that doesn't tell the whole story, but it gives us a good idea as to what his career production will be like.
December 21, 2007 8:37 PM ET | Delete
Only thing is... Francis is 5th all time points, and #2 all time in assists... so it's going to take ALOT to match even that.
December 22, 2007 5:00 PM ET | Delete
At the End of his Career Unless he passes Gretzky, there'll be only one number that matters and thats Cups.
December 22, 2007 5:13 PM ET | Delete
Good point, I agree. If he puts 4 cups on his resume then he'll be in right in the mix for top all time.
December 23, 2007 3:38 PM ET | Delete
IslandDynasty I agree, this entire blog was a complete waste of time. Bring it up in about 8 or 10 years.
December 24, 2007 5:28 PM ET | Delete
My top five would be:OrrRichardPlantHoweGretskyAs for players from the past 20 years or so.; jyou really can't make a comparison. The talent is so thin and defenses so inept, anyone who can skate as fast as a tortoise can score.Bobby Orr change the game of hockey. Most of you kids haven't even heard the term "blue lliner", or if you have, you probably don;t know the true meaning of the term. Bobby or is the reason.Jacques Plant is the greatest goalie who ever lived. No one else even comes close.Henri Richard scored 50 goals when a 20 goal scorer was considered a superstar.Gordy Howe was a bit of a showboat, but jjust on the basis of longevity, he makes the list.Gretsky had a sixth sense; he always knew where the puck was going and how to be there when the puck arrived,Geolover
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