“Sidney Crosby should be the number one pick in fantasy hockey drafts.”
It’s a statement that 95 percent of fantasy players would most likely make when considering their number one draft pick. I get it. He’s the best player in the world and the face of the NHL. He’s Sid the Kid, and he’s incredible.
However, I am part of that five percent who would disagree.
Hockey’s most prolific goal scorer, Steven Stamkos is my number one player in fantasy for the upcoming campaign. Would I fault you for taking Crosby ahead of him? Absolutely not. Both players are tremendous. The two best players in hockey, either is deserving of the number one spot in fantasy. But if I’m forced to choose between the Penguins star and the Tampa Bay sniper, it’s a no-brainer for me. Stamkos has my vote.
It’s evident that there is much more risk in investing a top pick in Crosby than there is with Stamkos. According to NHL.com, Crosby has missed 113 of his last 212 games, which equals slightly over 50 percent of the Penguins contests. He hasn’t played a full season since 2009-10, and because he suffered a concussion that held him out of action for the majority of the 2011 season, I’d be a tad bit worried that there is some re-injury risk here. Concussions are a very gray area in sports, but especially in hockey. Crosby missed 12 games last year, 70 in 2011 and 41 in 2010. Stamkos, on the other hand, hasn’t missed a game in the last four seasons, and has missed just three (count them) games over the course of his career. Throughout his career, Stamkos is averaging just about 20 minutes of ice time per contest, and while Crosby is averaging a tad more than him (20.75), he hasn’t averaged more ice time than Stamkos in the last two seasons, and considering his injury history, I’d bet Stamkos is on the ice longer this year too. You may not find a safer bet to stay on the ice, and when he hits that ice, boy is he something special or what? When I make my number one overall pick, I want upside, but I also want security, and at this stage in their careers, that edge definitely goes to Stamkos.
When looking at the two best players in hockey, you should expect to see some other-worldly numbers. That’s especially the case with these two guys. Let’s start with Crosby. From a point-per-game basis, Crosby is unmatched. Throughout his career thus far, Crosby is averaging at least 1.26 points per contest in every single year. Over the last three seasons, he ranks 10th in plus/mins (+41), and the only time in his career when his plus/minus wasn’t positive was during his rookie year (-1). And from Matt Cubeta of NHL Fantasy, Crosby has posted 256 power-play points over the course of his 470-game career. If you extrapolate those numbers for a full 82-game season, Crosby would be averaging 45 power-play points each year.
Now let’s look at Stamkos. As the purest goal scorer in the game, of course Stamkos has scored the most goals (185) over the last four seasons. The next closest is Alexander Ovechkin with 152. During that span, Stamkos has also totaled the most points in the NHL with a whopping 340. He’s also scored the most power-play goals (63), and while he isn’t as dominant in the PPG department as Crosby, Stamkos still ranks third during the last three seasons with a very strong 1.16. Over the last three seasons, the sniper has showcased pure sniper traits, ranking 11th in shots with 460. Throughout his career, Stamkos is averaging 242 shots per season, which is more than a lot of guys who have played even more seasons in the league.
Some pretty elite numbers here, folks.
Wrapping it up
Look, you seriously can’t go wrong with either guy. Both have advantages over each other, and both are more than worthy of the top spot. However, the safer option with higher upside has to be Stamkos. Like I said, he has only missed three contests in his career, and what many people don’t realize is that he is still just 23-years old. That is downright frightening. Crosby, meanwhile, at age 26, is heading into his prime, but considering he is made of glass, it isn’t nearly as exciting as Stamkos. I mean, it truly is terrifying how good this guy can be, and I don’t think we have seen his ceiling just yet. With top-notch playmakers like Martin St. Louis and rookie Jonathan Drouin alongside him, Stamkos could easily flirt with at least 60 goals this season. Sure, Crosby is always a favorite to win the MVP. And he does have a better overall supporting cast around him. But I don’t care. At this stage in their careers, Stamkos has more safety and upside, both of which are crucial aspects of making your first overall draft pick.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.