Something that you should aggressively ignore
A really cool idea was put forth by @mhenderson95 and @ballislife the other day. Basically, you have $20 to spend on building an all time starting lineup of NHL players. To compete against the world. Naturally, I took a crack at it. Here is my lineup, and why:
Alexander Ovechkin – Mario Lemieux – Mike Bossy
Bobby Orr – Ray Bourque
Right off the bat, I probably take a bit of flak for going with a current player in my six, spending $3 on Ovechkin as my left winger. My logic behind this is simple; without the late Boudreau / Hunter / Oates years, Ovechkin is probably already getting serious discussion as the best Left Winger of all Time. His numbers took a nose dive as he was forced to play a more defensive game, change positions, and all kinds of weird, messed up stuff. I’m looking at the 110 points per season Ovechkin to be my volume shooter and powerplay catalyst. There’s no better option here – Shanahan, Robitaillle and Bucyk are great players, but had numbers inflated by longevity, and in the latter case, generational talents (Gretzky, Orr). Despite the dip, Ovechkin is still 6th all time in goals per game, highest of all Left Wingers.
At centre I’m taking Mario Lemieux $4. My expectation, which also plays into three of my other selections, is that in a world where we can transport players between different eras to play prime hockey against each other, that we could also keep them healthy. Lets be real; nobody while healthy was as offensively dominant as Mario Lemieux. While he had some exceptional talent, he didn’t have the supporting cast that Gretzky did, and still had a higher points per game when he retired the first time. Yes, that number was tarnished by his comeback, but when you consider how good he was despite basically coming back three years later to save his team from bankruptcy, it puts his abilities into context. Gretzky at $5 is a fine pick too, but at worst Mario barely trails him, and in my opinion surpasses him.
At right wing, I don’t know how you pick anybody other than Mike Bossy. He’s the highest all time in goals per game, scoring 50 in every single year except for his last, a year where he was plagued by back injuries and still scored 38 in 63. His 81-82 season of 147 points in 80 games is probably the best ever by a right winger (Jagr pulled off 149 in 82, but also had Lemieux tallying 161 in 70 while centreing him). Making Bossy’s finishing ability even more impressive is the fact that he ranks so while while being 4th all time in NHL shooting percentage, scoring on 21.18% of his goals. I take him to be the pure finisher to compliment Ovechkin’s volume. I’d pay $5 for him, but at $2, its possibly the biggest steal on this list.
Because I’ve only spent $9 on my forwards, I can splurge a bit on my defence. As such, I instantly drop $5 on Bobby Orr. The best defenceman to ever play the game and the most revolutionary player to ever put on skates? You have to take him. The man won two Art Ross trophies from the blue line (six straight 100+ point seasons!), while still being one of the more dependable shut down guys in the world. The obvious knock on him are his knees, but as mentioned in the Lemieux choice, I imagine injuries aren’t an issue in this world.
Going with him I remain in Boston and spend $4 on Ray Bourque. Bourque is 4th all time in games played by a defenceman, trailing first place Chris Chelios by just 39. This shows experience in multiple styles and adaptations of hockey in the NHL, having started in 1979 and ended in 2001. He saw the Gretzky/Islanders era. He saw the dynamic and wacky early 90′s. He saw dead puck. He saw goalies go from useless to gods. He’s kept ties with the Bruins organization to this day, so I’m assuming he knows a thing or two about the current class of players. He’s my intelligence on an all time team. Not to mention that his offensive numbers blow away anybody in the top 50 in GP, save for Paul Coffey. All this while spending most of his career on a good but not good enough Bruins core.
In net, this isn’t an argument. There’s a steal here that’s as good if not better than Bossy at Right Wing, and it’s Dominik Hasek for $2. How do you say no to that? The other day, I was bored, and happened to compare three of the goalies on this list (and Henrik Lundqvist), to see how above the curve they were terms of save percentage over their careers. I got these results:
Apparently there’s an issue with how New Jersey counts shots that may deflate Brodeur’s numbers a bit, but I think it’s pretty obvious that Roy and Hasek are in a class of their own. Roy averages 15.06 points above the average SV% per year (10.2 playoffs) and Hasek averages 16.94 with 8.54 in the playoffs. Just absurd numbers compared to the rest of the league. Brodeur is 4.19 above season, 5.65 below playoffs, or an even 0 removing his rookie year. Looking at the rest of this list, Belfour is good but builds his reputation on longevity, and there isn’t really any save percentage data on Dryden. You look at how good the Habs were when he played, however, and you have to imagine the puck wasn’t hitting the net too often. A 2.24 career GAA is great, but if they were giving up less than 25 shots per game, those are bad numbers. In any event, Hasek and Roy seems to be a pretty subjective pick, and and if Hasek is only 40% of the price, you have to go for him.
In summation, it’s my belief that I’ve picked the best left and right wingers of all time, arguably the best centre and goaltender, the best defenceman, and one of the best to pair up with him. Others may see it differently, but I’m more than comfortable with spending my $20 on these six players.
What is your starting 6? Leave your team in the comments below.