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Where does Jaromir Jagr rank purely offensively?

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01-31-2014, 08:30 AM
  #1
Epsilon
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Where does Jaromir Jagr rank purely offensively?

So Jagr is currently leading the Devils in scoring with 46 points in 55 games (on pace for 69 points over a full seson), at age 41 and with the next-highest scorer on his team (Elias, who has missed games) at only 31 points. Obviously he's also been passing some milestones this year in terms of surpassing the goals and points totals of some notable players (such as Lemieux).

So the question is, based purely on offense, where does Jagr rank? This means:

-Ignore defensive play, or lack thereof

-Ignore intangibles such as leadership (this one is an up-and-down for Jagr IMO, but that's not really relevant to the question), and aspects related to off-ice drama (feuding with coaches, etc.)

-Ignore other aspects of the game such as physicality unless they are related to the player's offense (for instance with Jagr, the difficulty in bringing him down or taking the puck away from him would be relevant; for a player like Lindros, his punishing forechecking would be relevant, and so on)

I think it's clear right away he's behind Gretzky, Lemieux, and Orr, and that it's not even really worth discussing those three. So assuming (unless someone wants to argue otherwise) the highest anyone else can be is 4th, where does Jags slot in? I'll add my own thoughts later.

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01-31-2014, 08:50 AM
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Interested to hear where people rank his playoff resume along with his regular season one.

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01-31-2014, 09:45 AM
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I think he has a legitimate case for being fifth best offensive player ever. Howe, Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr being ahead of him.

He is not a slam dunk winner of the mortals, but he has good case.

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01-31-2014, 09:51 AM
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In terms of consistency and longevity, he's up there. Fifteen 30-goal seasons. Only Gartner has more. Once you start talking about 40- or 50-goal seasons, he's further down the list. Dionne, Lafleur, Bossy, both Hull's, Ovechkin, Bure, Kurri, Lafontaine, Esposito, Yzerman, Kerr, Ciccarelli, Hawerchuk, Goulet. Obviously you have to account for era and linemates.


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01-31-2014, 10:09 AM
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I think I'd have Howe, and Esposito ahead of him.

I would say Beliveau, Richard, Bobby Hull, Bossy are in and around is range.

I think he's somewhere between 6-12 All-time offensively.

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01-31-2014, 10:32 AM
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Taking for granted that Jagr isn't in the same class as Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr, I'd start by comparing him to Howe, Hull, Beliveau and Esposito. There are a number of ways to analyze the data. I'm assuming you're talking specifically about regular season offense (ignoring playoffs and major international tournaments).

1. Vs X Scoring

In my opinion, this methodology is the single best metric for comparing players across different eras (assuming they're all first-line players, which is obviously the case here). This method posits that, after adjusting for outliers (like Gretzky/Lemieux) in accordance with a specific formula, offensive stats are adjusted relative to the era's top talent.

Using the seven year analysis, their results are (source):

RankPlayerResult
1Gordie Howe 127.2
2Phil Esposito 123.4
3Jaromir Jagr 114.6
4Jean Beliveau 108.9
5Bobby Hull 107.1

2. Scoring ranking compared to Canadian players

This is an indirect method of taking into account the fact that Jagr played against a larger talent pool in a larger league. For those curious, there were no adjustments to any of the rankings for Howe, Beliveau, Hull or Esposito (let me know if I missed anything that should have been adjusted). Jagr's "Canadian only" rankings are as follows: 6th (1994), 1st (1995), 2nd (1996), 4th (1997), 1st (1998), 1st (1999), 1st (2000), 1st (2001), 3rd (2002), 8th (2003), 7th (2004), 2nd (2006), 7th (2007).

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Howe 6 1 5 3 5 1
Esposito 5 3 1 1
Jagr 5 2 1 1 1 2 1
Hull 3 3 1 1 1 1 1
Beliveau 1 2 4 1 1 2 1

Rankings
1. Howe: clearly in a class above the rest. He has more than twice as many top five finishes as any other player! Any way you analyze the data (Art Ross trophies, top three finishes, top ten finishes) Mr. Hockey is no worse than tied for first in any category.
2. Jagr: the great Czech fares very well according to this metric. He's second in number of top five and top ten finishes.
3. Esposito: surprisingly poor longevity (the fewest top ten rankings in the group), but I rank him ahead of the others because it's hard to overlook 8 top-twp finishes. We'll get to teammate context later.
4. Hull: very similar numbers to the great Hab, but gets the edge due to having a more dominating performance over his best years (6 top two finishes compared to 3).
5. Beliveau: see above.

3. Absolute peak

1. Howe - second only to Gretzky in number of Art Ross trophies. Won six scoring titles in total, three of which were by laughable 30% margins over the nearest non teammate.
2. Esposito - won five Art Ross trophies, four of them by a 10% margin and one of them by a 20% margin. If we exclude teammates (which usually makes sense but probably doesn't in this case, as I don't think Esposito was the main catalyst on those Bruin teams), the margins of victory are even larger.
3. Jagr - also won five Art Ross trophies. Comparing him to the closest Canadian in the scoring, he only won two of the trophies by more than a 10% margin.
4. Hull - although he won three Art Ross trophies, one was a tie and another was by a single point. He crushed the field in 1966 though (24% margin of victory).
5. Beliveau - clearly last; only one won Art Ross trophy, though it was a strong performance (11% over Howe).

4. Consistency of offense

I'm looking specifically at how consistent they were able to stay in the top ten in scoring.

1. Howe - nobody was more consistent than Mr. Hockey, with twenty consecutive seasons as a top five scorer. More than a decade after learning this fact, I'm still amazed.
2. Esposito - yes, he lacks longevity compared to the others (see next category) but during his peak, Esposito was first or second in scoring eight straight years. Nine consecutive seasons in the top ten.
3. Jagr - eight straight years in the top ten in a deep, talented league. Five straight years in the top five.
4. Hull - eight straight years in the top ten. Four straight years in the top five.
5. Beliveau - seven straight years in the top ten. Never more than three consecutive years as a top five scorer, though he did that twice.

5. Longevity

This really refers to longevity as an all-star calibre player. It's admirable what Jagr is doing this year, but I don't think that a 60 point season adds much to his legacy, even if it is at age 41.

1. Howe - see above. No player in hockey history was an all-star calibre player for as long as Howe. Was a top five scorer each year from ages 21 to 40. Truly mind-boggling. He almost makes Ray Bourque seem like a flash in the pan.
2. Beliveau - a top ten scorer from ages 23 to 39 (the year he retired).
3. Hull - tough to read; he could very well be third. A top ten scorer from ages 21 to 33, when he left for the WHA. Judging from his statistics and the estimated quality of the WHA, was likely a dominant scorer through age 36, perhaps even through age 39. May have had slightly better longevity than Beliveau, but the ties goes to the Hab due to less uncertainty about quality of competition.
4. Jagr - a top ten scorer from ages 21 to 34 (with one more very good, but not quite elite, offensive season on either side of that range). Jagr very well could have been second in this category, but the decision to leave the NHL really hurts him.
5. Esposito - he did not age well. Was only an elite (top ten) scorer between ages 22 and 32. Still a solid contributor through age 37 though.

6. Context - teammates

1. Jagr - Notwithstanding 2001, Lemieux's impact on the Czech is overstated. In his most dominant season, Jagr won the Art Ross playing with Martin Straka and German Titov. He nearly repeated the feat with Straka again, and Michael Nylander, in New York. He helped numerous teammates achieve career highs. At times he was truly a one-man show.
2. Hull - he won goal-scoring crowns and Art Ross trophies with shockingly weak linemates. Still, the presence of Mikita on the second line probably opened things up for Hull to an extent.
3. Howe - during his peak he played on a dominant team (with Kelly and Lindsay, among others) but his linemates were surprisingly mediocre for most of his career (especially since it was the Original Six era).
4. Beliveau - consistently played on some of the deepest and most talented teams ever.
5. Esposito - although the impact is sometimes overstated, the hulking Bruin is clearly the player most influenced by his teammates. Esposito probably would have won an Art Ross or two without Orr (he did so convincingly in 1969 before Orr became superhuman, and was runner-up the year before when Orr missed half the season), but I doubt he would have done so by such enormous margins.

7. Balance

In my opinion, players who can both score and set-up teammates are more valuable, on average, than players who specialize in one area.

1. Howe - versatility is another strong suit. Similar number of years as a leader in goals and assists, whether you're looking at top three (12-10), top five (14-17), or top ten (19-22).
2. Beliveau - very balanced. Seven years each in the top five in goals and assists. Similar to Jagr, but I give him the edge due to leading the league in goals and assists twice each.
3. Jagr - similar to Beliveau. Eight years as a top ten goal-scorer, ten years as a top-ten playmaker. (I'm using top ten as a proxy for being top five in a Canadian-only league). Never led the league in goals though.
4. Esposito - everyone views him as a lumbering goal-scorer, but he racked up a lot of assists. His numbers are quite similar to Beliveau (eight years in the top five in both goals and assists) but his high-end finishes (six times leading the NHL in goals compared to three times in assists) shows where Esposito's skillset truly lies.
5. Hull - clearly the most unbalanced player in the group. Twelve seasons in the top five in goals, just two seasons in the top five in assists. He was just as unbalanced (if not moreseo) in the WHA.

8. Context - role

Although we're specifically talking about offense, we need to consider if the players were used in a role that allowed them to maximize their offensive potential, or sacrifice their statistics for the good of the team.

1. Howe - on top of his incredible offensive consistency, he was a good defensive player (debatable whether "good" or "excellent").
2. Beliveau - very solid defensively. Probably as a good as Howe, but he had so much help from other teammates (particularly Harvey and H. Richard) that the edge goes to Howe.
3. Esposito - a big drop between Beliveau and the last three. Very few defensive responsibilities, though he did play on the penalty kill somewhat.
4. Hull - see above.
5. Jagr - all offense. Unlike the other four, received very little ice-time on the penalty kill.

9. Context - league

1. Jagr - played in the largest league with excellent integration of European talent.
2. Beliveau - spent a long time playing in the Original Six era. I give him the edge over Howe because the Red Wing was particularly dominant in the early 1950s, when the talent pool appeared to have been a bit weaker than the rest of the era; Beliveau debuted in 1954. The counter-argument is given that Beliveau spent his entire career on such dominant teams, so his opponents were less talented than the league average. A close call.
3. Howe - see above. Also note that he played a few years in the WHA. I won't hold that against him as his performance there has been ignored in my previous analysis.
4. Hull - peaked late in the Original Six era, but spent the second half of his career against weak competition (the recently-expanded NHL, and then the WHA). The reason I have Hull over Espo is because I've primarily ignored his time in the WHA in my analysis.
5. Esposito - played in the most watered-down era (peaked shortly after the NHL doubled in size, and many NHL calibre players were in a rival league).

10. Overall

Let's calculate a junk statistic (adding their ranking in each category). There are a few problems with this - it doesn't take into account how close the players are (i.e. are #3 and #4 virtually tied, or is there a clear break?), nor do I apply weightings to the categories. Still, I thought it would be an interesting summary:

1. Howe - 13 points
2. Jagr - 25 points
3. Esposito - 30 points
4. Beliveau - 32 points
5. Hull - 35 points

Howe is clearly the best of these five players and I'm surprised he wasn't moved into the "freak of nature" group with Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr. He may very well be the worst offensive talent out of those four, but he's closer to them than he is to the other mortals.

Based on the purely quantitative analysis, I have Jagr ranked 2nd (which would make him the 5th best offensive talent in NHL history). Subjectively, after taking into account the context, I think that this is a reasonable position. He has everything you could ask for - consistency, longevity, a dominating peak, and balance between goal-scoring and playmaking. All this was accomplished in a deep, integrated league, often as a one-man show.

Esposito is hard to read; on paper he's almost as good as Lemieux offensively, but there's a lot of teammate and era context that I've attempted to take into account. Beliveau and Hull round out the top five and aren't separated by much.

11. Other possibilities

Are there any other NHL players who were better than Jagr offensively?

Howie Morenz - the best offensive talent through the NHL's first three decades, but only won two Art Ross trophies.
Maurice Richard - a lot of positives, but very unbalanced and never won an Art Ross.
Stan Mikita - not quite as good as his teammate Hull, who is already behind Jagr.
Marcel Dionne - a lot of positives as well, but only two Art Ross trophies (pretending Gretzky never existed).
Guy Lafleur - six seasons of dominance, but absolutely nothing else.
Sidney Crosby - maybe one day, though injuries may have already permanently dented his legacy.


Last edited by Hockey Outsider: 01-31-2014 at 09:14 PM.
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01-31-2014, 10:32 AM
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In terms of consistency and longevity, he's up there. Fifteen 30-goal seasons. Only Gartner has more. Once you start talking about 40- or 50-goal seasons, he's further down the list. Dionne, Lafleur, Bossy, both Hull's, Ovechkin, Bure, Kurri, Lafontaine, Esposito, Yzerman, Kerr, Ciccarelli, Hawerchuk, Goulet. Obviously you have to account for era and linemates.
Goals aren't offense , it's a part of it.

Jagr's top 10 finishes:

Goals: 2nd , 2nd , 2nd , 2nd , 3rd , 4th , 6th , 9th
Assists: 1st , 1st , 1st , 3rd , 3rd , 3rd , 5th , 7th ,7th , 9th
Points: 1st , 1st , 1st , 1st , 1st , 2nd , 2nd , 5th , 6th , 8th , 9th

I don't see many players beating that , on top of his career regular season and playoff points total , not to mention he missed 3 years playing in Russia.

I would rank:

1) Gretzky
2) Lemieux
3) Howe
4) Jagr

I don't see Orr being better than Jagr offensively , perhaps he is offensively more talented , but he was still a defenseman and we have to take it against him based on Epsilon's conditions in the OP.Other great offensive players include Bobby Hull , Phil Esposito , Guy Lafleur.

EDIT: Obviously Orr was a far more talented player than Jagr , my reason for not ranking him over Jagr offensively is that Jagr simply produced a whole lot more offense than Orr due to the position factor.It doesn't mean what Orr did offensively wasn't more impressive because he was a D , but the offensive results are in favor of Jagr.


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01-31-2014, 10:43 AM
  #8
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For sure he is one of the most consistent forwards to ever play. With how well he is playing this season at his age, it goes to show how amazing he was at his prime. A 42 year old Jagr still being a factor and relevent is great to see.

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01-31-2014, 10:53 AM
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That's a fantastic post, HO. Looking at all those different angles, it's kind of hard to escape the conclusion that Jagr is the best post-expansion offensive player other than Wayne/Mario. And really, he's got something of a case against Mario if one puts a lot of emphasis on longevity.

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01-31-2014, 11:02 AM
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And really, he's got something of a case against Mario if one puts a lot of emphasis on longevity.
If he has a case against Mario Lemieux , than the system is wrong.

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01-31-2014, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Crease View Post
In terms of consistency and longevity, he's up there. Fifteen 30-goal seasons. Only Gartner has more. Once you start talking about 40- or 50-goal seasons, he's further down the list. Dionne, Lafleur, Bossy, both Hull's, Ovechkin, Bure, Kurri, Lafontaine, Esposito, Yzerman, Kerr, Ciccarelli, Hawerchuk, Goulet. Obviously you have to account for era and linemates.
If you use adjusted goals, it looks like this:

Player# 50# 40# 30#20
Alex Ovechkin6*899
Mario Lemieux671313
Wayne Gretzky591317
Brett Hull5101417
Bobby Hull5101314
Jaromir Jagr591320
Phil Esposito571216
Pavel Bure45810
Mike Bossy291010
Steve Yzerman261018
Guy Lafleur26613
Jari Kurri24713
Marcel Dionne161217
Joe Sakic141417

The Hulls edge him ever so slightly in prime performance (one 40-goal season each) but Jagr exceeds them in longevity... value that as you will.

It certainly seems that Ovechkin has the potential to beat them all, having already set the standard in 50-adjusted-goal seasons* and now needing only to compile 20/30/40 goal performances to close the argument altogether.

* this does give Ovechkin credit for a 50-adjusted-goal season in 2013-14. He currently has 38 goals in 50 games and scoring is back down to DPE level, so it's nearly a fait accompli at this point.

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01-31-2014, 11:20 AM
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If he has a case against Mario Lemieux , than the system is wrong.
Why? He's played more than 50% more games than Lemieux and will end up with nearly 400 more adjusted points. If one strongly values longevity over peak performance, Jagr vs Lemieux is a compelling argument.

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01-31-2014, 12:26 PM
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Pure offense, I have Jagr 4th or 5th all-time.

99, 66 and 4 are the top 3 and Jagr dukes it out with Gordie for 4th best offensive player all-time IMO. The difference in style between the two favors Jagr in my book. Howe produced offense at a high level based on his physical dominance where Jagr had raw talent that made my draw drop, just like Mario.

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01-31-2014, 12:30 PM
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Howe is clearly the best of these five players and I'm surprised he wasn't moved into the "freak of nature" group with Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr. He may very well be the worst offensive talent out of those four, but he's closer to them than he is to the other mortals.
I'm in the camp that views Orr as having the greatest overall peak ever, but I don't understand why everybody in this thread keeps ranking Orr above Howe for offense? Orr led the league in points twice, Howe six times. Orr led the league in PPG once, Howe seven times. Howe led the league in goals five times, Orr was never even top 5. How is that even comparable?

Frankly, I haven't really seen the case made for Orr over Jagr either, unless you believe that Orr's offensive peak was so incredibly high compared to Jagr that it would outweigh Jagr's longevity advantage. I'd rank them pretty close.


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01-31-2014, 12:34 PM
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Yeah maybe I jumped the gun by automatically throwing Orr in the top 3 - does anyone want to make the case for Jagr over him?

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01-31-2014, 12:36 PM
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unless you believe that Orr's offensive peak was that so incredibly high compared to Jagr that it would outweigh Jagr longevity advantage.
I think so.

I mean, sure, Orr's career was cut short (and Jagr is an immortal) but 4 played long enough to prove he was among the most dominant offensive players the game will ever see. What is amazing about Orr (although some of this is off-context in this particular discussion) is that Orr produced like an elite scorer while also being counted on to be a defenseman - and one who hit and fought for that matter.

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01-31-2014, 12:37 PM
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Yeah maybe I jumped the gun by automatically throwing Orr in the top 3 - does anyone want to make the case for Jagr over him?
I love Jagr but no.

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01-31-2014, 12:37 PM
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If he has a case against Mario Lemieux , than the system is wrong.
Agreed. Playing longer is not the same as being better. In NHL history, Gretzky and Lemieux are the only two players who were absolutely untouchable offensively if they were healthy. Howe has that 4 year sweet spot, but after that, he did get outscored regularly when healthy (though he was always among the leaders)

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01-31-2014, 12:42 PM
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Prime Jagr? Better than anyone in the league today and in the past 10 years for sure. Prime Jagr is 2 full levels below Gretzky and Lemieux but he's a full level above Crosby (best in the world today).

The fact that he can still compete, despite not being able to skate fast anymore or not being able to recover as fast, either speaks on how overrated the players of today are or it speaks volume on Jagr's talent (A mix of both really).

Image Jagr, in his prime, in this era... LOL! He scored 123pts, in this era, while being past his prime at 34... at 26? Oof! 160 pts easy.

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01-31-2014, 12:59 PM
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Agreed. Playing longer is not the same as being better. In NHL history, Gretzky and Lemieux are the only two players who were absolutely untouchable offensively if they were healthy. Howe has that 4 year sweet spot, but after that, he did get outscored regularly when healthy (though he was always among the leaders)
I doubt anyone feels Jagr was Lemieux's equal while they were healthy and on the ice together, but surely you agree that the gap narrows considerably when career value comes into play? The longevity difference between them is, what, 6 full seasons?

I'm not saying I take Jagr over Mario at the end of the day, but it's not insane to make a case for Jagr's long-term reliability against Mario's health and multiple retirements.

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01-31-2014, 12:59 PM
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Prime Jagr? Better than anyone in the league today and in the past 10 years for sure. Prime Jagr is 2 full levels below Gretzky and Lemieux but he's a full level above Crosby (best in the world today).

The fact that he can still compete, despite not being able to skate fast anymore or not being able to recover as fast, either speaks on how overrated the players of today are or it speaks volume on Jagr's talent (A mix of both really).

Image Jagr, in his prime, in this era... LOL! He scored 123pts, in this era, while being past his prime at 34... at 26? Oof! 160 pts easy.
I agree with this 100%. The same could have been said for Frosberg too. Even when he was broken down, north of 30 and playing with one foot in Philly, he was still among the best players in the world. Jagr in his prime, with the long, flowing mullet would absolutely munch the league right now. He'd be at least a 135-145 pointer while the next best (Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, etc.) were fighting for 100-120.

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01-31-2014, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I doubt anyone feels Jagr was Lemieux's equal while they were healthy and on the ice together, but surely you agree that the gap narrows considerably when career value comes into play? The longevity difference between them is, what, 6 full seasons?

I'm not saying I take Jagr over Mario at the end of the day, but it's not insane to make a case for Jagr's long-term reliability against Mario's health and multiple retirements.
How far are you willing to take this argument? Were Messier, Howe, Francis, Dionne, and Yzerman better offensively than Lemieux too? They scored more points! I realize that's a gross simplification and something of a strawman, but how far are you willing to take the "playing more games trumps quality of the games played?"

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01-31-2014, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Boxscore View Post
I agree with this 100%. The same could have been said for Frosberg too. Even when he was broken down, north of 30 and playing with one foot in Philly, he was still among the best players in the world. Jagr in his prime, with the long, flowing mullet would absolutely munch the league right now. He'd be at least a 135-145 pointer while the next best (Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, etc.) were fighting for 100-120.
I don't think Jagr was ever farther ahead of the pack than Crosby is this current season, but we'll have to see if Crosby keeps up his pace for the full season.

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01-31-2014, 01:16 PM
  #24
tarheelhockey
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How far are you willing to take this argument? Were Messier, Howe, Francis, Dionne, and Yzerman better offensively than Lemieux too? They scored more points! I realize that's a gross simplification and something of a strawman, but how far are you willing to take the "playing more games trumps quality of the games played?"
Howe... well, this thread isn't simply "who had the highest peak", so I'd certainly expect he compares pretty well to Mario. Certainly not so much that one would dismiss the comparison out of hand.

All of those other players (including Mario) have 1980s-inflated numbers so I'm not inclined to take "they scored more points" to mean much.

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01-31-2014, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Epsilon View Post
Yeah maybe I jumped the gun by automatically throwing Orr in the top 3 - does anyone want to make the case for Jagr over him?
I think they are pretty close, but let's look at it this way: How long where they the best offensive player in the world?

Lafleur, Orr and Jagr each have about a 6 year span as the best offensive player in the world (removing Lemieux).

Many people would say that Jagr had a lower peak than Lafleur, but that Jagr makes up for it by adding about ten more years as a top player.

Couldn't the same argument be used against Orr?

(Again, I have Orr as the best overall player ever at his peak, but looking purely at offense he looks much more human).

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