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Crosby still best player in world, Rutherford says

Body of work gives him edge over McDavid, believes Penguins GM

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he believes the body of work that captain Sidney Crosby has established over 13 NHL seasons is reason enough to give him the edge over Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid as the best hockey player in the world.

Rutherford, who is here watching the Penguins compete in the Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter, offered his opinion when asked how close he felt 20-year-old McDavid was to 30-year-old Crosby after winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer last season.


[RELATED: Crosby enthusiastic about Penguins' three-peat bidMcDavid 'definitely' believes Crosby is best in the game]


"There's a lot of different ways in judging this; McDavid is just a great player and at a very young age," Rutherford said. "The thing that Sid has now is three Stanley Cup championships, some Olympic gold medals and a few Canada Cup titles.

"Sid's resume and legacy is already established, but what McDavid is doing now is at the front end of his legacy that's he's starting to establish. I would expect McDavid and the Oilers to win championships in the near future, and I think that's more when we get to making the comparison."

Video: Sidney Crosby lands the No. 2 spot

The Hockey News ranked McDavid as the No. 1 player in the NHL in its annual preseason yearbook, with Crosby No. 2 after spending the past nine years at the top of that list. McDavid will become the NHL's highest-paid player with an eight-year, $100 million contract extension that begins next season. His $12.5 million average annual value would be the highest in the NHL.

"I don't see [McDavid] nearly as much as I watch Sid, but I have so much respect for both players; they're each tremendous in their own way," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I happen to believe Crosby right now is the best two-way player in the game. He's got an insatiable appetite to be the best, is a real competitive guy and is willing to put the work in to be at the top of his game."

McDavid helped the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006. He had 30 goals and 70 assists to lead the NHL with 100 points last season. Crosby scored 44 goals and 89 points to tie for second with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks before winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy for a second straight season. 

"In my two years as coach in Pittsburgh, I've grown just so much respect for Sid," Sullivan said. "He's one of the most committed athletes I've ever been around and I don't think it's by accident that he's been the best player in the world for as long as he has."

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