2005 - 1st round - 1st overall
|Sidney Crosby/ Getty Images |
Heralded as the best prospect entering the NHL Draft since Mario Lemieux in 1984, Sidney Crosby had lofty expectations to meet. The Pittsburgh Penguins, a franchise in need of a sparkplug after a few down seasons, were awarded the franchise’s third No. 1 overall pick after a lockout cancelled 2004-05 season, winning the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes” and changing Pittsburgh’s history for years to come.
Crosby burst onto the NHL scene as an 18-year-old, scoring 102 points (39G-63A) to set a franchise rookie record for most points in a rookie season, breaking the previous record set by Lemieux (100) in 1984-85. The Nova Scotia native became the youngest player to reach the 100-point plateau in a season but finished second in the Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) to Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin.
The following season, “Sid” led the Penguins back to the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The captain had a spectacular 2006-07 season, posting career highs in assists (84) and points (120) to go along with 36 goals. Crosby was awarded the Hart Trophy (MVP), Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) and the Ted Lindsay Trophy (most outstanding player as voted on by peers), capping off one of the most dynamic offensive seasons in recent memory. Crosby became the youngest scoring champion and second youngest Hart Trophy recipient (Wayne Gretzky) in NHL history.
Over the next few seasons Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would form one of the most offensively dynamic duos in the NHL. After propelling the team to a Stanley Cup appearance in 2008, the Penguins returned the Final again in 2009 to unseat the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. After a grueling seven-game series, Sid and the Penguins hoisted the Cup, making Crosby the youngest captain to lead his team to a Stanley Cup title (21 years old). Following the Stanley Cup victory Crosby elevated his offensive game to another level, scoring a career-high 51 goals to become the franchise’s first Rocket Richard winner (goal-scoring champion – tied with Steven Stamkos).
Crosby began the 2010-11 season on a tear, accumulating 66 points (32G-34A) through 41 games. The star’s season though was ended prematurely after suffering a concussion in early January. Battling through concussion-like symptoms, Crosby returned for a brief eight-game stint at the beginning of the 2011-12 season before concussion symptoms resurfaced. Overcoming the symptoms, Crosby officially returned for good on March 15, 2012 against the New York Rangers, registering two assists in the 5-2 victory. Crosby continued to display the magical scoring touch that made him a dominating force for the Pens throughout the 2011-12 season, scoring eight goals and dishing out 29 assists to amass 37 points through just 22 games. Over his career, Sid has racked up 609 points (223G-386A) in 434 games for Pittsburgh.