The National Hockey League or NHL has been graced with the presence of quite a few impressive players as of late. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the reigning NHL champions, have centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This dynamic duo ripped through the 2009 NHL playoffs to capture the franchises’ third Stanley Cup title. The skill play of Center Pavel Datsyuk, Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Left Wing Henrik Zetterberg makes the Detroit Red Wings yearly title contenders. Other fine players such as Calgary Flames’ Jarome Iginla (Right Wing), San Jose Sharks’ Joe Thornton (Center) and the Vancouver Canucks’ stud goalie Roberto Luongo are always fan favorites. Out of all the talented players in the NHL, there’s only one that stands out from the pack. His name is Alexander Ovechkin, Left Wing of the Washington Capitals.
Alexander “The Great” Ovechkin hands down is the best player in hockey. Not only is he the best now, but barring any significant injuries, Mr. Ovechkin will go down as the greatest to ever lace up a pair of skates. Yes I said it! Better than Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky. You might think that I’m smoking something powerful or perhaps sipping on some ignorant juice but let’s look at the numbers. In his first four full years in the NHL, Ovechkin has a total of 219 goals, 201 assists, and 420 pts in 324 games. This season marks his fifth season as a pro and he’s starting where he left off. Ovechkin currently leads the NHL in points, goals and plus/minus ratio.
Alex Ovechkin was the Washington Capitals’ first overall draft pick in the 2004 NHL draft. Unfortunately, the Russian native had to wait until the 2005-2006 season to play due to the NHL lockout of 2004. When Ovechkin finally got the opportunity to play, he didn’t disappoint scoring two goals in his NHL debut. In January of 2006, he would collect his first “hat trick” (when a player scores three goals in a single game). The same month, he was named NHL Rookie of the Month and Offensive player of the Month. This has happened only three times in NHL history. At the end of the 2005-2006 season, Ovechkin was named Rookie of the Year receiving the Calder Memorial Trophy leading all rookies in every offensive category. Those stats would also earn Ovechkin NHL First All-Star Team an award he has achieve every season since.
After his rookie season, Alex Ovechkin continued collecting hardware and breaking records. These achievements include; the Kharlamov Trophy (2006-2009) as being the Most Valuable Russian NHL player, Lester B. Pearson Award (2008-2009) as the Most Outstanding NHL player, Art Ross Trophy (2008) most points scored in a season, Maurice Richard Trophy (2008-2009) most goals scored, and the Hart Trophy (2008-2009) leagues Most Valuable Player. Ovechkin has made his way into the NHL record books by being the first player to win the Hart Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, Maurice Richard Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in a single season. His 106 points in his rookie season was the most by any rookie Left Wing in NHL history. In the 2007-2008 season, Alex accumulated 65 goals and NHL record. Other records includes; most shots on goal (528) by a Left Winger (2008-2009), most shots on goals (425) in a rookie season and fastest overtime goal (6 seconds) against the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006.
In 2008, The Washington Capitals signed Alex Ovechkin to a 13 year contract extension, enhancing the franchise chances to become a legitimate championship contender in seasons to come. After a great 2008-2009 season, Alexander “The Great” hopes to take his Caps to the promise land and bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to the Nation’s Capital. This guy is the real deal folks. He can’t be stopped and this year he’s on a mission, so his competition better be on the look out. I don’t know about you but I can speak for all the die-hard Caps fans by saying, “I’m ready for a frickin’ parade”. Let’s go caps!!
By Keith Madyun