Sidney Crosby is 26 years old and in his prime, but Jonathan Toews has surged ahead of Crosby for the most part when it comes to NHL executives on who they would pick to build a franchise around.
In mid-May Mark Spector of Sportsnet polled five scouts on who the better player was and four of the five scouts picked Jonathan Toews.
Craig Custance who does excellent work for ESPN, ran a more extensive poll this week where he asked a “dozen NHL executives, coaches and players to send in their top five franchise picks, in order, then assigned point values for each vote to come up with an overall ranking.” According to Custance, the panel was made up of four current team executives (assistant GM or GM), one former GM, four current head coaches, one respected assistant coach and a player from each conference.
It was Jonathan Toews not Sidney Crosby who finished first in the voting among NHL personnel in choosing the NHL’s top Franchise Player.
Is Toews just the flavor of the month still? Maybe but that doesn’t appear to be the case. When talking to scouts, executives around the league, they don’t value players like most of the media who are always fixated on who scores the most points. Those like Toews who play a dominant 200ft game and have unique Mark Messier traits, are becoming more valued than a Sidney Crosby. Might sound crazy to some but it’s the truth. How centers who play a dominant 200ft game are so valued now, is why it would be difficult to find more than four or five GM’s among the 30, who would take Evgeni Malkin over Anze Kopitar for instance.
Anyone who says the Penguins have the two “best players in the game” are still living in 2009 and that’s because of others passing up Malkin not Crosby.
However, Crosby’s leadership qualities and the ability to will his team to victory when dealing with adversity, have taken a significant hit the last couple seasons to those around the league and it’s another reason why Toews has made his surge as a player many would rather build around and some see as the games best player.
One NHL executive, though, came to the defense of Crosby and the criticism he’s getting in those areas.
“I think the toxic situation in Pittsburgh wore him down more than anything, ” an NHL executive with an Eastern Conference team told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
“Sidney carries a lot of weight on his shoulders and he’ll re-charge his batteries I’m sure. He’s still a player who has character.”
The negativity surrounding the Penguins which has led to Crosby’s reputation taking a bit of a hit, likely doesn’t bother Crosby much, but I can tell you it does too people close to Crosby. And the talk from new GM Jim Rutherford about the Penguins have a “quiet room” and hinting that it was a bad room, has not sat well with some who feel those have been digs at the Penguins captain.