Athletes were judged on major stats; championships to which they’d made major contributions; buzz factor; and age.
Crosby, who is 22 years old, was ranked No. 1, followed by Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic (24); Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder (21); Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans (24); and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (24).
That’s some impressive company. (Waits for angry Washington Capitals to yell themselves hoarse.) I think Crosby is a pretty good choice, but honestly, the cream of the NHL crop seems to be in that age range. Let’s take a look at the best players under 25, beyond Alex Ovechkin and Crosby.
It’s an impressive list, but keep in mind I’m leaving out the good-but-not-great-just-yet players such as John Tavares and Matt Duchene.
Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Eric Staal, and chances are a lot of others I’ve forgotten. (Sorry, Jordan Staal.)
Mike Green, Drew Doughty, Erik Johnson, Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook Ryan Suter, Tyler Myers, Keith Yandle and maybe a few others? (I don’t think Victor Hedman is worthy just yet.)
Is Dion Phaneuf good enough to be on this list?
Marc-Andre Fleury, Tuukka Rask, Semyon Varlamov (maybe?) and Jaroslav Halak.
From the looks of this list, there are plenty of great players at or under the age of 25. Considering the fact that athletes tend to hit their prime around those years, this certainly bodes well for the future of the league.