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Stastny vs. Kopitar a close call

Wednesday, 12.10.2008 / 1:00 AM / Head to Head

By NHL.com Staff

Tale of the tape

Kopitar
CENTER
LAK
(#11)
HEIGHT: 6' 3" WEIGHT: 219
'07-08 Stats:

GAMES: 82
GOALS: 32
ASSISTS: 45
POINTS: 77
Stastny
Center
COL
(#26)
HEIGHT: 6' 0" WEIGHT: 205
'07-08 Stats:

GAMES: 66
GOALS: 24
ASSISTS: 47
POINTS: 71
Chances are, neither the Colorado Avalanche or Los Angeles Kings would entertain a swap of Paul Stastny for Anze Kopitar, and judging from the comments of hockey fans, neither would they.

Stastny vs. Kopitar

Stastny is better for one plain and simple reason. He has very good puck and play awareness. His game is always a heads-up game and the passes are tape-to-tape. He may be complimented by (Milan) Hejduk and (Ryan) Smyth, but his rookie season he was not. He played the majority of the season with (Wjotek) Wolski as his winger and made the best of it.

Kopitar is a great center, but lacks the playmaking ability that the greats have. He can drive the net and dangle the puck like nobody’s business, but in the end he lacks the team play that would make him better than Stastny.

-- Scott

***

Let me start by saying that both players are amazing talents and would be an asset to any team in the NHL. As stated at the beginning of the article, "Kopi" does not have the supporting cast that Stastny does. What might his numbers be on a team with star power? Would there be a comparison then?

Due to his success on a team ranked last in the NHL last season, I'm giving this one to Kopitar.

-- Matthew

***

Kopitar, but it's close. I’d take Stastny’s playmaking and on-ice vision, but Kopitar is tougher on the puck and is a better skater with slightly better goal-scoring hands. Kopitar is also a little better defensively, although Stastny is no slouch in his own end. Given that Kopitar has played with, and will continue to play with, far less talented wingers, I give him the slight edge.

-- Carpathia

***

My name is Jure, 19, and I'm a Slovenian. I will not say who of them is better -- they both deserve only the best.

But watching through Slovenian eyes, Anze is unbelievable and we can only be proud of him. Hockey is a very popular game in Slovenia, but we only have two teams, Olimpija and Jesenice, when those two teams play against each other, all Slovenians are gathered behind TV screen, its like Slovenian Super Bowl, which happens about six times every year. In the hockey was interesting only when Olimpija and Jesenice played final championship games, other Slovenian teams were down below. Now both teams play in Austrian EBEL league, which includes seven domestic teams, two Slovenian and one Hungarian. Now these games are really HUGE, HUGE!! Hockey is popular also at World Championship time, but our team is too bad for Group A and far too good for B group.

But there was still something what we all wanted. A player in NHL! And Kopitar, a working guy with no ego, did it. You could not believe how many Slovenians watched Ducks-Kings game at Kopitar's debut. We don't have NHL broadcast on TV anymore, but there are Web sites, forums where everyone's asking for a link to see the game online. He's shown us that to dream is not a crime, it can happen if you really do your best and believe in it. We have some NBA players, but basketball is a sport where Slovenians were good for so many years.

 
And if I will ever have enough money I will go to L.A. with my girlfriend to see the hockey game.

P.S. Sorry about the language, my English is bad.

- Jure, Slovenia

***

This one is a no-brainer to me. Both are exceptional players, and both will be improving for years to come. That being said, if you have to anchor your team around a player, you pick Stastny. He has exceptional vision, getting the puck to the open man is never an issue and is the definition of unselfish. Kopitar might be able to find the twine more often in his career as he progresses, but he does not possess the leadership that Stastny has, nor does he see the ice as well. Great matchup for head-to-head and great revamp to the NHL.com Web site.

-- Justin, Vancouver

***

I enjoyed your article "Kopitar, Stastny a battle of two great centers." It brings up a question that will probably last as long as these two phenomenal players are in the NHL. Who is better? Throughout the NHL's existence players have always been compared. Statistically, these two are almost identical. They were both chosen in the 2005 draft and have put up similar numbers since. The only real difference between them is their plus-minus (Kopitar, minus-29; Stastny, plus-21) through three seasons. Like most comparisons there are a lot of things to weigh.

As far as numbers go Stastny looks better due to his 164 points in 166 games played, compared to Kopitar's 152 point in 172 games played. Other factors to consider are the players that they play with (which to me seems fairly even).

But if I had to give one the edge, I'd say Stastny has a better core of players, which could explain his numbers being slightly better. They both play on Western Conference teams so I don't think either one has an advantage there. Some other things that could be taken into consideration would be face-off percentage, penalty minutes, average time on ice, shooting percentage, power-play points, leadership roles and the ability to make something out of nothing. We have to remember that while we compare them now, they are both very young and we have not seen their full potential yet. However, I am a Colorado Avalanche fan and if I had a choice to pick one, I'd go with Stastny. Not only because I'm an Avs fan but I think in the long haul Stastny will out-perform the competition.

-- Billy Wyman

Crosby vs. Ovechkin

I, personally, would take Sidney Crosby. Even though Ovechkin lights up the scoreboard and has a howitzer of a shot, nobody works the corners like Crosby. He has the legs of a bull in the corners and rarely loses a battle. Ovechkin and Crosby are both great players and as individuals it is tough to choose. However, Crosby takes the cake in my book because he makes everyone around him better, too. Ovechkin is not the kind of team leader that Crosby is. If I was to build a team, my first choice would be Sid to build it around.
 
- Kyle Byckalo

***

As a diehard Pittsburgh Penguins fan, most of my friends and family would expect me to say that I would choose for Sidney Crosby to be on my team. This is in accurate. If I were looking for a player to go one-on-one with someone or to win a skills competition, Sidney Crosby would be the best bet. But in this case, I believe that Ovechkin is a more compatible team player. Crosby does have the points, but he also has Evgeni Malkin right up beside him as the League leader in points this season. Ovie was offered the opportunity to be captain and declined it, while Crosby took the job willingly. I am not saying that Crosby was not ready for this leadership responsibility; I am just saying that Ovie is just as prepared for it. Sid the Kid may have the skills, but he also has a very skilled team surrounding him on a daily basis. Ovie led his team into the playoffs last year when they were not expected to go anywhere in the postseason. Crosby led his team all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, but Malkin was right beside him making plays. Between these two players, I would want Ovie to be on my offensive line over Crosby.
Sorry Pittsburgh.

-- Kat
Quote of the Day

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