Pittsburgh Penguins training camp is right around the corner, but some of the players are being honored already.
Recently, Sidney Crosby was rated first in The Hockey News rankings of the NHL’s top 50 players. Teammates Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar checked in at ninth and 28th, respectively.
Crosby resides atop The Hockey News rankings for a second-straight year, despite suffering a severe high ankle sprain that caused him to miss 29 games last season. When healthy, Crosby was a dominant force. He led the NHL in scoring at the time of his injury and still finished the season with 72 points (24+48) in 53 games. His average of 1.36 points per game was nearly identical to Alexander Ovechkin, who captured the NHL scoring title.
In addition, Crosby tied for the NHL lead in playoff scoring with 27 points (6+21) in 20 games. Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg had 27 (13+14) in 22 games. Crosby’s 21 assists led all playoff scorers and he had multiple points in 11 of 20 playoff games as he led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final.
The 21-year-old Crosby is nearing some career milestones. He is one goal shy of 100 for his career, five assists shy of 200 and six points away from 300. He enters this season having played in just 213 games.
Malkin took his game to a new level once Crosby was lost with the ankle injury. The gifted young center became a dominating offensive force to lead the Penguins to Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference titles with 54 points (24+30) in the Penguins’ final 36 regular-season games.
He finished second in the NHL scoring race to Ovechkin, with 106 points (47+59) in 82 games. Malkin led the Penguins in goals, assists, points and power-play goals (17). He tied for third in the NHL in power-play points (40) and fourth in power-play goals. His 15-game point streak (7+15) from Oct. 23-Nov. 22, was the longest ever for a Russian-born NHL player.
In addition, he recorded his first two NHL hat-tricks (Jan. 3 vs. Toronto and Jan. 14 vs. NY Rangers).
Malkin, who finished second in Hart Trophy voting, became the 12th player in Penguins history to record 100 points in a season.
Gonchar continued to be among the NHL’s elite defensemen. He finished second in scoring among league blueliners for the second-straight year with 65 points (12+53) and tied for second among defensemen in the playoffs with 14 points (1+13).
He finished fourth in voting for Norris Trophy as NHL’s best defenseman behind Nicklas Lidstrom, Dion Phaneuf and Zdeno Chara.
Gonchar has scored at least 50 points in eight straight seasons, which is tops among active defensemen.
All three Penguins will hit the ice Sept. 16 as the Penguins open training camp.