• Coverage Info

Crosby, Ovechkin head all-time 3-on-3 team of 2000s

Thursday, 01.28.2016 / 3:00 AM / 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Share with your Friends

Crosby, Ovechkin head all-time 3-on-3 team of 2000s
NHL.com imagines what an all-decade team would look like for a 3-on-3 All-Star format in the 2000s..

The NHL game has undergone massive changes over the course of the past 15-plus years.

The removal of the red line in 2005 immediately made the game faster than ever before. The speed has seemingly increased with each passing season because the players are bigger and stronger. The sophistication in their offseason and in-season training is at a new level because of the advancements in technology.

The addition of the salary cap has ushered in an era of unrivaled parity.

Through it all, the NHL has grown in size and popularity, both at home and abroad, aided by the greatness of two players, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, who have become the faces of a new generation of hockey stars.

A number of other stars have shown through their talent, skill and intelligence that no matter the era and obstacles, they can put together Hall of Fame careers.

Boiling down 15-plus years of stars since the turn of the century to establish one team of 11 players (six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies) that could dominate in a 3-on-3 format such as the one the League will use at the Honda 2016 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday was a tall task.

There have been enough worthy players to consider making multiple teams, but only one was allowed. Here is NHL.com's attempt at establishing the All-Time 3-on-3 Team of the 2000s:

Line 1: Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Nicklas Lidstrom

Crosby and Iginla are familiar with one another from their time together with the Pittsburgh Penguins and with Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Crosby can make the plays and get to the net. Iginla is a scorer, but don't underestimate his vision and passing ability. Lidstrom, the best defenseman in the NHL in the past 20 years, would be the ideal complement because he's always in position, always on the right side of the puck and always conscious of his defensive responsibilities but phenomenal in the offensive game.

Since the start of the 2000-01 season, no player is averaging more points per game (1.33) than Crosby, the Penguins' captain, two-time Olympic gold-medal winner (2010, 2014), one-time Stanley Cup champion (2009) and two-time Hart Trophy winner (2007, 2014). He is 10th in points since 2000-01 (894) despite being 230th in games played (673). It's fitting that Iginla would join him on this line because Iginla was the one who delivered the pass to Crosby that set up his golden goal at the 2010 Olympics. Iginla is typically on the receiving end of those passes. He has the most goals of any player since the 2000-01 season with 511 and has 602 during his 19-year career.

Lidstrom has the hardware to prove he is the best defensemen in the NHL since Bobby Orr. He won the Norris Trophy seven times in a span of 10 seasons (2000-11), and won two of his four Stanley Cup championships with the Detroit Red Wings in this century (2002 and 2008). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.

Line 2: Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Scott Niedermayer

Malkin's vision and strength, Ovechkin's strength and shot, and Niedermayer's skating would make for a lethal 3-on-3 combination. Niedermayer's skating alone would create time and space for Malkin and Ovechkin. Malkin is familiar with Ovechkin from their time together on the Russian national team. He knows where to find Ovechkin for his powerful and accurate shot.

Malkin is second behind Crosby since the 2000-01 season with 1.18 points per game (749 points in 635 games). He was a Hart Trophy winner in 2012 and a Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins in 2009. Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, has won the Hart Trophy three times (2008, 2009, 2013) and has 503 goals and 937 points in 806 games. Earlier this season, he became the fifth-fastest player to score 500 goals, reaching the milestone in 801st game.

Niedermayer, who retired in 2010 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013, was one of the most graceful skaters in NHL history. He also was one of the greatest winners in NHL history, winning the Stanley Cup four times, including three times this century (2000 and 2003 with the New Jersey Devils, 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks). He also won two Olympic gold medals (2002 and 2010), gold at the IIHF World Championship (2004) and the World Cup of Hockey (2004), the Norris Trophy (2004) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (2007).

Line 3: Joe Thornton, Martin St. Louis, Chris Pronger

Thornton has been one of the best playmakers of this generation. St. Louis has been one of the best scorers, in particular because of his shot from the right circle, a place otherwise known as "his office." Put them with Pronger, whose shot, defensive awareness and intimidating size made him a Hall of Fame defenseman, and you've got another lethal 3-on-3 combination.

Thornton leads all players since the 2000-01 season with 1,192 points and 867 assists. He has 137 more points and 135 more assists than anyone else. He is also fourth in games played with 1,116. St. Louis was deadly with his shot, and, frankly, all over the offensive zone. He is third in points (1,013), third in assists (626), seventh in goals (387) and eighth in game-winning goals (65) since 2000-01. St. Louis retired after last season.

Pronger is big, but he could keep up in 3-on-3. On the off chance this line gave up a 2-on-1, he could negate it with his reach. Pronger had 450 points in 659 games from 2000-01 until he was forced out because of an eye injury and concussion problems. He won the Hart Trophy and Norris Trophy in 2000, gold medals at the Olympics in 2002 and 2010 with Canada, and the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.

Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo

They are the top two goalies in terms of wins and shutouts since the 2000-01 season. Brodeur earned 447 of his NHL-record 691 victories and 83 of his League-record 125 shutouts from 2000-01 until he retired midway through last season. Luongo is second to Brodeur in wins (416) and shutouts (71). He's still playing. Brodeur had five seasons with 40 or more wins, including an NHL single-season record 48 in 2006-07. He won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000 and 2003, and played in the Cup Final in 2012. He also won Olympic gold as Canada's starter in 2002 and as a backup to Luongo in 2010. Luongo, now with the Florida Panthers, played in the Cup Final in 2011 with the Vancouver Canucks. He has seven seasons of 30 or more wins, including two with 40 or more. He's on pace for more than 30 wins again this season.


NHL Winter Classic Poll