Category: pittsburgh penguins

Greatest Players Drafted – 1st Overall


Mario Lemieux

Drafted: 1st overall (1st round), 1984, Pittsburgh Penguins
Amateur Team: Laval Voisins
Born: October 5th, 1965 in Montreal, Quebec
Position: Centre
Teams: PIT
Number: 66
Shoots: Right

Career Statistics

Regular Season                    Playoffs

GP: 915                                   GP: 107
Goals: 690                              Goals: 76 
Assists: 1033                          Assists: 96       
Points: 1723                            Points: 172    
Goals/Game: 0.754                 Goals/Game: 0.710  
Assists/Game: 1.129              Assists/Game: 0.897  
Points/Game: 1.883                Points/Game: 1.607                     


1997 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
2x Stanley Cup Champion
2x Conn Smythe Trophy winner
6x Art Ross Trophy winner
1984-85 Calder Memorial Trophy winner
1984-85 NHL All-Rookie Team
4x Ted Lindsay Award winner
3x Hart Memorial Trophy winner
1x Lester Patrick Trophy winner
5x NHL First All-Star Team
4x NHL Second All-Star Team
1x NHL Plus/Minus Award Winner
1x Bill Masterton Trophy winner
10x NHL All-Star

No honourable mentions this time. There have been a ton of players drafted first overall who’ve had incredible careers, some of whom are still playing and will one day be counted as legends of the game. You’d think having all those options would make this spot difficult to select. It did not. 

Depending on who you ask, there are four contenders for the best player to ever play the game. Looking at Mario’s stats, you can easily see why he’s one of them. I like to compare him to Steve Yzerman, one of my favourite players growing up, a guy who played in the same era, and one of the best players ever. Mario did everything Steve did, but he accomplished it in 600 less games, losing many to injury and cancer while in his prime. Imagining what he could have done in 1500 games instead of 900 boggles the mind. And yet the lost opportunity doesn’t even sting all that bad because of how much he managed to pack into a shortened career. He won two Stanley Cups. He led the league in scoring six times. He had six seasons where he averaged more than 2 points-per-game. He’s one of three guys to score more than 80 goals in a season, and scored more than 60 four times. He’s one of three guys to put up 100+ assists in a season. He’s also the only guy other than Gretzky to even come close to scoring 200 points in a season. A dominant player, maybe the most dominant one-on-one player of all-time, and the only choice for greatest player drafted 1st overall.



On the Penguins potentially trading Kessel, I find it interesting Rutherford came out and shot down the rumours today. Generally speaking, I don’t like it when general managers do that. It always feels a little suspicious. People are going to talk either way, so when you specifically address an issue to say it’s bullshit, it can only make people talk more. It never shuts down the rumours. So what’s the point?

As for a trade itself, I personally think it would be stupid for the Penguins to trade Kessel, for a couple reasons. First, the Pens are going to compete for the Cup every year until Crosby and Malkin are gone. They will never be a rebuilding team until that happens, so any trade now has to make the team better. Dumping a guy who’s coming off a 92-point season does not make your team better in any way. You’re going to re-tool your team by trading your second-leading scorer? You’re going to ship out that guy for a “culture change” or whatever bullshit thing you’re calling it this season? Ridiculous. Nothing you get back is going to replace the offense you’re losing.

Cap space is something that gets brought up as a reason for a trade, but for the same reason as above that makes little sense. Having cap space is great, but unless you’re using it to sign Tavares, you’re still not replacing the offense you lost by getting rid of Kessel. You’re actively making your team shittier.

I think the idea that Kessel’s value being as high as it ever will be due to his great season is misleading as well. For one, everybody knows who this guy is at this point. His value is going to be fairly steady until his career starts winding down. Whether he’s putting up 60 points or 90, he is what he is and everybody knows it. Second, the teams that actually have use for him are going to be other contending teams. Which, generally speaking, are usually the most limited in both what assets they can part with, and how much salary they can take on. What do you think Kessel’s going to bring back in a trade? The top prospect from a team that’s drafted in the back half of the first round for the last four years? You’re not getting a real player off the roster, unless it’s one who hasn’t lived up to the hype. A first round pick that ends up being 30 or 31 overall? And how much salary are you going to have to retain? You really want to give up a top-line player for 5 million in cap space and a handful of crappy assets that not only don’t help you, but actually make you a less productive team right now? 

Not to mention he has a modified no-trade clause. It doesn’t matter if all 30 other teams make an offer. If they aren’t on his list, he’s not going. And he’s shown in the past he’s willing to play hardball and force a trade to the specific team he wants to go to. If they make him feel unwelcome, like they’re pushing him out, he’s got a huge amount of influence on where he ends up. And if his target is a team with no cap space and shitty prospects, Pittsburgh either gets to shut up and let him stay or accept a crap return for one of their better players. Not ideal.

I could maybe get a little more behind the idea of getting rid of Phil because he’s hard to coach or to shake-up your team if the team situation was a little different, maybe nearly getting there for a couple years but not quite making it. But they’re not. They won with him, He was a major contributor. Yeah, he had a shittier post-season this time. So what? Nobody’s on all the time. And the coach played him with different players. It just seems to stupid to me.

Of course, I could be way off-base. A team could come along and make an offer that actually does make it worth it for the Penguins. Crazy shit happens sometimes. But I don’t see it. In the end, in my eyes, you don’t get rid of an elite player just to shake-up your roster. Especially when your team expects to compete for a Cup for at least the next few years. Unless you’re a bunch of idiots. Guess we’ll find out.

* Just for the record, I have no comment on whether or not I think the trade actually will happen. Teams do dumb shit constantly. I just think it shouldn’t. 

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