Home HockeyBuzz Register Login
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 exactly 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, gagging how much better or worse they are then 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 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 for Sid's inclusion in the "top five" is with Gretz and Mario. You may argue that one of the other plays a more complete or a more physical game, however all three are offensive dynamo's and they were paid to produce offense, no 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 from 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 player 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 .24 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 both were very close to career highs in PPG early in their careers, Crosby could blossom further, however both 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, 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 M .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 three 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 third year, leading the league in his second 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, that 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 that he would fall somwhere in between Gretz and Messier and the Lindros (pre injury) Trottier caliber players. Likely top 10, however hitting the top 5 will take a substantial increase in production.
Filed Under:   Crosby  
April 24, 2008 12:51 AM ET | Delete
you need to diarize this for every 3 years to look back at it with your thoughts and assess his progress against the greats
October 27, 2008 12:13 AM ET | Delete
http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eklund/The-Penguins-Have-Hitched-the-Wagon-to-Number-87Is-that-for-the-Best/1/17526Sunday @ 10:41 PM ET holy crap, zombie is going to pop wood when he sees this topic.... - MyTeamMyTown[:lol:]Mark it down. Malkin will prove to be the better of the two.
December 17, 2008 2:35 AM ET | Delete
You have way to much time on your hands man.I am actually baffled why you would even write about this when he has only been in the league for 3 years now
January 11, 2009 3:26 AM ET | Delete
i dont think crosby is even in the same league as gretz or mariohes not even the best player on his team
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to leave a comment.