(This post is part of a fundraiser for 826 Boston, a non-profit tutoring and writing center. For $50, readers can get me to write anything about hockey they want, so donate today to make me say stuff by clicking here. I probably don’t believe the nonsense below, which was requested by Brent.)
If you’ve been watching the Olympics this year, or the NHL for the last few, one thing you’ve probably noticed is Phil Kessel gunning down the competition at a rate as significant as some of the very best players in the world despite the fact that his help in Toronto has been, shall we say, limited (by Tyler Bozak).
Since being traded to Toronto, Kessel has 318 points, the same number of Ryan Getzlaf, and tied for 12th in the entire league. Among the 21 players to eclipse 300 points in that time, he is fifth in goalscoring at 150, one behind Patrick Marleau in 11 fewer games.
Over the past two and a half seasons, though, he’s really come into his own, posting numbers of a point per game or better in each. During that time, you know who’s outscored him in the entire league? Evgeni Malkin. And that’s literally it. And the number of points Malkin beat him by? It’s one (1).
So you’d think this would be enough to launch Kessel into superstardom, especially as he runs roughshod over the entire Olympics and leaves a trail of bodies and lamenting women in his wake. But this isn’t the case, even as Patrick Kane called him the best player he’s every played with.
One guy who’s not convinced: Randy Carlyle. You know, Kessel’s coach in the NHL.
“I think that’s a big statement for anybody to come out and proclaim on any player,” said the guy who thinks helmets increase the chances for concussions because they heat up the brain. “I think it takes a longer period of time than five, six years. I think that’s more along the lines of a seven-, eight, 10-year career and if you’re able to maintain that.”
To that assertion, the number of guys who can be dominant in the NHL for seven, eight, or 10 years is extremely low. Maybe like one or two of them can do it during any given period like that. Your Ovechkins, your Crosbys, your Malkins, your Thorntons. These are guys who are first-ballot Hall of Famers, obviously. So yeah you can safely get away with saying they’re among the best in the world. But going three straight seasons ripping your opponents’ throats out, as Kessel has done isn’t nothing.
Another stat: In the past three seasons, the only two guys with more goals than Kessel are Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos, and while they’re significantly ahead of him in this regard (110, 103, 88), Kessel also hasn’t had nearly as much help, and indeed is still THIRD IN THE NHL.
This idea that Kessel isn’t a premium player, or that he’s one-dimensional, is of course ludicrous here in 2014. Even if he were the most one-dimensional player of all time, when your only dimension is “scoring more goals in a three-year period than everyone alive save for the two greatest goalscorers of all time” then who, really, cares?
Phil Kessel owns. He is a great American. He is one of the greatest players on earth over the past handful of years. Get over it.
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