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12-08-2012, 09:16 AM
Big Phil
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Originally Posted by Meteor View Post
The best Soviets all peaked during time periods when there was a great Canadian forward (Kharlamov with Esposito, KLM line with Gretz), so I don't think there was a Russian who could call themselves the best forward in the world until Ovechkin circa 2008 and Malkin right now. However, 99 and 66 were real outliers. You can make a good case that Makarov was the 3rd best forward in the world 1986-1989 (in the gap between Bossy's retirement and Jagr's rise), is that any less impressive than a Russian being the best forward in the world for a 3 year period right now?
I loved Makarov and think he still should be in the HHOF. However, it is tricky analyzing the Russians pre-NHL. Yes, he played like a soldier in the Canada Cups and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that, but how does he do in a full 80 game NHL season? We have a little bit of a window. In 1989-'90 he was a "rookie" in the NHL and had 86 points. If you take into account the adjustment to a new culture, new team, new system and such then 86 points is actually very good under those conditions and we knew the man could play hockey. I also think the Soviet system wore him down a lot. Look at Krutov. Or Fetisov. Or Larionov. All fine players back in the day but they weren't stars at any time in the NHL. Makarov was at least close to being one. So I think he is a perennial 100 point man in the 1980s. Maybe nipping at Bossy's heels as the best winger. Or more like Kurri.

Kharlamov is a guy that it is almost impossible to analyze because we have a small sample size. We know what Lafleur did in his career. Could Kharlamov have been like that in the NHL? I don't know how he would have done year in year out playing 80 games like that. How does he react when a good checker gets in his face? As a star in the NHL you'd better get used to it. I just don't think you can ever call Kharlamov the best player in the world at any time.

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