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01-23-2013, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Since we're looking at prime vs prime, here are the 6-year periods where each player had his best production:

Playmaking centers during Oates' prime, 1990-96:

Mario Lemieux301 394 1.31
Wayne Gretzky479 5711.19
Adam Oates 500 533 1.07
Mark Messier482 423 0.88
Ron Francis 518 4480.86
Craig Janney 482 4050.84

Playmaking centers during Thornton's prime, 2003-10:

Joe Thornton5605000.89
Sidney Crosby3713230.87
Marc Savard4733580.76
Henrik Sedin5643940.70
Pavel Datsyuk5363700.69
Brad Richards5363640.68

Nobody's holding it against Oates that he couldn't keep up with Gretzky and Lemieux, and we should give similar (but perhaps slightly lesser) consideration to Thornton with Crosby. If you ignore the generational-player element, there's a 15-18% drop from both Oates and Thornton to the next-best setup man of the generation. From a bird's eye view, it's still pretty close.

Another thing to bear in mind: Thornton missed the 2005 season due to lockout, then came back and led the league in assists 3 years in a row and won the Hart. We can reasonably assume that he would have put some more distance between himself and the pack in 2005.
Excellent post.

I think it's also worth noting that in that time span nobody was even within 100 assists of Thornton's total, whereas even if you remove Gretzky and Lemieux from the equation Francis, Coffey and Gilmour are all closer to Oates in assists than anyone was to Thornton in his prime.

Thornton's level of dominance in the assist department in such a low scoring era is incredible.

Another thing worth noting:

Average NHL goals per game 1990-1996: 6.75

Average NHL goals per game 2003-2010: 5.66

Last edited by MastuhNinks: 01-23-2013 at 04:18 PM.
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