This list isn’t solely based on talent; it’s a combination of things – NHL experience, playoff failure(s), consistent success and, ok, talent. One catch: the players listed below all have played five or more years in the league. You could say that this list should read ‘Top 5 playoff chokers’, but nevertheless…
This is the obvious choice. The most prolific and dynamic offensive player in the NHL has yet to lift Lord Stanley, and that has to be irritating Mr. Ovechkin right about now. In five-plus seasons, Ovie has 544 points and a shelf full of hardware. Since Sidney Crosby has a Cup and Gold Medal already on his resume, you can bet Ovechkin is desperate to get a hold of that Holy Grail.
Ovechkin, 25, still has plenty of time to win the Cup (unlike some others on this list). Even though he has hid his fair share of playoff failures early on in his career, it’s only a matter of time before the Capitals break loose and go all the way.
2. Joe Thornton
No one can deny what Thornton has done since arriving in San Jose following the lockout. In 393 games wearing the teal and black, ‘Jumbo Joe’ has 492 points and a Hart Trophy to his record. Now he just has to win when it counts.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk
At some point in the next 15 years, Martin Brodeur will be calling it quits and there’s no telling if Zach Parise will be a ‘Devil for life’ or not. So, between now and then, this will become Kovalchuk’s team – a player that has a 1-8 playoff record. Can he lead the Devils to the Promised Land?
5. Daniel Alfredsson
Like Iginla in Calgary, Alfredsson has been the face of the Senators franchise for as long as I can remember. The 15-year veteran has played in 107 playoff games without lifting Lord Stanley. The closest he’s gotten was in 2007 when Ottawa made their first appearance in the final, but lost in five to the Ducks. They’ve had numerous great teams in the past that couldn’t get it done in the postseason.
Alfredsson, 37, has had a few injuries here and there throughout his career, but has over 1,000 points and games played. Has the window closed on Ottawa’s current core to win the Cup? If so, would Alfie play elsewhere to get that ring? I am hard-pressed to picture him in any other uniform.
Honorable Mention: Zdeno Chara, Henrik Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller, Sedin Twins
Notable veterans nearing the end: Andrew Brunette, Paul Kariya, Saku Koivu, Ryan Smyth, Marty Turco
Photos credit: Getty Images
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