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02-26-2013, 09:43 PM
Hockey Outsider
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Elias is 7th in scoring from 1998 to 2012 (behind Thornton, Iginla, Jagr, Selanne, Alfredsson and Hossa), all of whom will likely be in the Hall of Fame. The players ranked 9th (St. Louis), 11th (Lidstrom), 13th (Sakic) and 14th (Recchi) will all be in the Hall of Fame too. Link.

The only others players in the top fifteen in scoring over the course of Elias's career are Whitney, Lecavalier, Marleau and Kovalev. (Coincidentally, these are the only players during that period to score more than 800 points). There are several reasons why there's a clear separation between Elias and the other four:

- Elias spent most of his career on a defense-first, low-scoring team, which suppressed his offensive statistics. (I know there are some exceptions to this - such as 2001 when the Devils were the league's highest scoring team).

- Elias was more of an offensive catalyst, leading his team seven times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011), more than any of the other players [Whitney (1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2012), Kovalev (2002, 2006, 2008, 2009), Lecavalier (2000, 2007 2008), Marleau (2001, 2004, 2011)].

- Elias is better than any of the other five defensively (by a wide margin over Kovalev and Lecavalier, and smaller but clear margin over Marleau and Whitney).

- Elias has a higher ppg in the playoffs (0.77) than Marleau (0.68) and Whitney (0.51). He's only slightly behind Kovalev (0.81 ppg; over more games (162-123), with Kovalev playing more than one-third of his PO games during/prior to the high-scoring era ending in 1996 vs none for Elias) and Lecavalier (0.83 ppg; but over significantly more games (162-63) with Lecavalier playing none past age 30).

- I realize that this is partially a product of playing on a strong team, but Elias was a top ten playoff scorer as many times as the other four combined (T-2nd, T-3rd, T-10th for Elias; T-6th, T-6th for Lecavalier; 6th for Kovalev; never in top ten for Marleau and Whitney).

- Elias is the only one who was a first-team all-star (Kovalev and Lecavalier were a second team all-star once each).

- All the players except Whitney placed in the top ten in Hart voting once (Lecavalier 4th, Elias 6th, Kovalev 8th, Marleau 10th).

- Elias was in the top ten in scoring as many times as the other four players combined (3rd, 6th, T-10th for Elias; 3rd, T-6th for Lecavalier; T-4th for Kovalev; never in top ten for Marleau and Whitney). Elias placed in the top twenty four times (as many times as Kovalev, and more than each of the others).

- None of these players have exceptional resumes in terms of international play. Lecavalier had the most dominant performance (leading scorer on the gold medal Canadian team in 2004, including scoring the OT goal to eliminate the Czechs in the semi-final) but I don't think this moves his significantly ahead of Elias (who scored a strong 5 points in 5 games that tournament, and had three trips to the Olympics).

- I realize this analysis exactly coincides with Elias's career (excluding the 18 games he played in 1996 and 1997, plus what has been a very good start to 2013). Marleau and Lecavalier entered the NHL in 1998 and 1999, respectively, so all of their careers are considered. This excludes 121 points in 200 games in a high-scoring era for Whitney which, all things considered, doesn't help him much. Kovalev adds 215 points in 315 games, which gives him a clear edge in longevity, but not enough to overcome Elias' other advantages.

- I realize that this is a minor point, but aside from Marleau all of the players have been fairly similar in terms of health (Marleau has averaged 80 games per season, Whitney 74, Elias 73, Lecavalier 71, Kovalev 71).

I think Elias deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and has put enough distance ahead of Lecavalier, Kovalev, Marleau and Whitney that the line should be drawn after the Czech, and before the others.

Last edited by Hockey Outsider; 02-26-2013 at 10:04 PM..
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