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Hockey's Best "Five-Tool" Player

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Old
07-19-2011, 09:57 AM
  #1
WilliamRanford
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Hockey's Best "Five-Tool" Player

We often talk about 'complete' players in hockey -- a definition that usually means good offensive and good defensive hockey. Players usually mentioned are of the Trottier, Clarke, Orr, or Kurri mould. Or it can mean players who offer both toughness and offensive ability. Modern examples would be Lucic and Getzlaf.

In baseball, the idea of completeness is a bit different -- they call complete players 'five-tool' players. From wikipedia: "a five-tool player is one who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities". The idea is that such a player has all the necessary talents required to help a team win: hit hard, hit often, run fast, throw hard, and have defensive smarts. Mid-career Bonds and Griffey Jr. are commonly named 'five-tool' players.

What would be the hockey equivalent of a 'five-tool' player? First we need to decide what the elemental 5 hockey talents are. How about:

1. Shot Quality (both Velocity/Accuracy)
2. Skating Effectiveness (both Speed/Agility)
3. Passing/Playmaking Ability
4. Physical Strength / Tenacity
5. Defensive Positioning/Anticipation

In other words, shoot well, skate well, make plays, win battles, deny goals against.

Firstly, do you agree with those 5 dimensions? How would you alter them?

Secondly, who do you think is the best 'five-tool' player in league history? Right off, names like Howe, Lindros, Messier, Orr, Hull, and Bourque come to mind. Who would be your top 'five-tool' players?

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07-19-2011, 10:07 AM
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tarheelhockey
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I think that's a pretty good list, both of qualities and of players. It doesn't get much more complete than Howe or Orr.

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07-19-2011, 11:05 AM
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BraveCanadian
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Prime Fedorov

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Old
07-19-2011, 11:06 AM
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mja
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This is Eric Lindros all day.

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07-19-2011, 02:03 PM
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begbeee
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It screams to me as you have wrote about one of the greatest defensmen of the history. Bourque? Potvin? Maybe MacInnis? I wouldnt die unsatisfied if it would win Fedorov.

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07-19-2011, 02:18 PM
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Rhiessan71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I think that's a pretty good list, both of qualities and of players. It doesn't get much more complete than Howe or Orr.

^This.

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07-19-2011, 03:12 PM
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plusandminus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamRanford View Post
1. Shot Quality (both Velocity/Accuracy)
2. Skating Effectiveness (both Speed/Agility)
3. Passing/Playmaking Ability
4. Physical Strength / Tenacity
5. Defensive Positioning/Anticipation

In other words, shoot well, skate well, make plays, win battles, deny goals against.

Firstly, do you agree with those 5 dimensions? How would you alter them?
When I wrote a kind of "hockey simulator" in the early 90s, I used:
1. Shooting/Scoring ability
2. Passing ability
3. Stickhandling ability (to move with the puck, to dribble pass opponent, to get past the defender, etc.)
4. Battle ability
5. Defensive ability (positioning, takeaways, intercepting opponent's passes, etc.)

From 5 to 1: play good defence, win battles, move with puck, pass puck, shoot/score.

Your list is pretty similar, isn't it? Perhaps 2-3 is different? What do you include in playmaking ability?

Perhaps you are not considering puck carrying ability? (I may be wrong about that?)

(I also thought EA Sports' NHL had an interesting way of rating players, but they obviously used more categories.)

Other way of looking at it (spontanously put, as I come up with it now):
When opponents have the puck: positioning, checking (+skating)
When battling: battle ability
When own team have the puck: positioning (+skating)
When carrying the puck: stickhandling (+skating)
When letting go (intentionally) of the puck: passing, shooting, scoring

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07-20-2011, 11:50 AM
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While Gordie Howe was listed, his son Mark IMO deserves at least an honorable mention. He wasn't very aggressive, but he was so skilled in everything else, how can you not mention a good winger who went on to an All-Star and HOF career on D.

I'm from Boston and like Lucic, but no way does he belong on this list. He skill level isn't high enough to be mentioned with the other players.

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07-20-2011, 02:40 PM
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Crosby, even though he's not recognized for physicality or defense, is excellent in goal scoring, play making, skating and above average in battle ability and defensive ability.

Forsberg was excellent in all but the goal scoring ability, but was still above average in it (averaged 29 goals per 82 games)

Very few forwards were excellent in all 5 abilities. Messier wasn't an excellent skater. Clarke wasn't an excellent goal scorer. Was Trottier a good skater and good at physical battles?


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07-20-2011, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Prime Fedorov
Have to agree with this. He at times lacked the sixth tool- motivation- but I can't think of another player with his combination of size, skating ability, playmaking ability, goal-scoring touch and defensive game.

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07-20-2011, 03:19 PM
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Joe Thornton in 03/04 came very close. Great passer, 30+ goals, very physical, pretty good skater, and decent defensively.

Malkin has the potential, especially if you consider size to be an important trait.

When he is "on", Getzlaf fits this very well. Crosby is very close but just not physical enough.

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07-20-2011, 03:22 PM
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Physicality is overrated. It's not necessary to be a great player.

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07-20-2011, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Hate Jay Feaster View Post
Physicality is overrated. It's not necessary to be a great player.
Which is why I mentioned Mark Howe.

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07-20-2011, 04:01 PM
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07-20-2011, 05:26 PM
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Come to think of it, Iginla fits the bill. Except in recent years, since Keenan, his defensive play hasn't been great.

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Old
07-20-2011, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Hate Jay Feaster View Post
Physicality is overrated. It's not necessary to be a great player.
Likewise, toughness is underrated by many here.

To your point, you need not be an physical initiator to be an effective player, but if you do not go into the dirty, high-traffic areas of the rink, are not willing to take a hit to make a play, all the puck skills in the world will do you no good in the NHL.

(And before anyone brings up #99, he was the exception to most every rule. A vast majority of the time, no one could catch him to start with.)

And while physical play is not required to be great, a physical aspect is another dimension that makes a superb player even more effective and valuable. Players like Bryan Trottier, Peter Forsberg and today, Mike Richards, could (can) impact a game even when they are not scoring. As opposed to other skilled players who are limited value if they do not have the puck on their blade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuts View Post
Was Trottier a good skater and good at physical battles?
As for skating: as strong on the puck as anyone, this side of Jagr. No breakaway speed, but you could not knock him off the puck. As for physical battles, that is what separated him from other star, highly skilled centers.

But don't take my word for it. Check out the first 1:55 of this and what his peers say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN0MczpIeDo

Includes him putting nice licks on Bobby Clarke and #99 (very rarely done).


Last edited by Trottier: 07-20-2011 at 05:45 PM.
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Old
07-20-2011, 05:35 PM
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Forsberg. There literally isn't a single aspect of the game that he isn't elite in. Goal scoring included.

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07-20-2011, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Hate Jay Feaster View Post
Physicality is overrated. It's not necessary to be a great player.
No single trait is necessary to be a great player. Very few players have all of the tools, hence the thread.

And while I'm sure I'm going to get back the ole "he couldn't keep his head up" retort, Eric Lindros could literally change the direction of a game with a devastating hit (or frequently a series of hits during a frenzy of rage) as with an incredible pass or ridiculous goal.

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07-20-2011, 05:41 PM
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Forsberg. There literally isn't a single aspect of the game that he isn't elite in. Goal scoring included.
How was Forsberg elite at goal scoring?

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07-20-2011, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I think that's a pretty good list, both of qualities and of players. It doesn't get much more complete than Howe or Orr.
They didn't call him Mr Hockey because Nike thought it would sell. It wasn't a gimmick, He was the real deal, most complete player ever. Orr too, and had he been able to stay healthy there may have been no discussion of the greatest of all time.

as for current players, Kesler is rounding into a complete player, he's not there yet, but at the rate he is progressing he's heading that way...

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07-20-2011, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuts View Post
Messier wasn't an excellent skater.
What??


Orr and Fedorov are the two yardsticks. Fedorov wins this hands down for forwards. He wasn't often physical because of his speed and ability to handle the puck at full throttle, not out of any deficiency. Even Gretzky said Fedorov was good enough to play defense full time in the NHL.

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Old
07-20-2011, 06:42 PM
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On top of players already mentioned, surprised I'm the first to mention Bobby Clarke. And not "greatest of all time," but some other good, more recent players that spring to mind would be Kesler, Patrice Bergeron, Rod Brind'Amour, Doug Gilmour, Iginla, Claude Giroux, Alfredsson, Parise, etc. Some of these guys aren't necessarily huge for the physicality part, but still physical players regardless.

Ovechkin would be a great choice for 4 of the 5 tools, but I've always felt he was pretty poor defensively for the most part.

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07-20-2011, 07:46 PM
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Hate Jay Feaster View Post
How was Forsberg elite at goal scoring?
I wrote this some week(s) ago:

-----------
Forsberg's NHL career basically lasted from 1995-2004 (then his foot problems became much worse).

Forsberg (compared to other players) in regular season during 1995-2004:
Category Total Per game
+/- 1st 1st
Points 3rd (beh Mario and Jagr
Goals
Assists ? 1st (if I remember correctly)

Forsberg in playoffs during 1995-2004:
Category Total Per game
+/- 1st 1st
Points 2nd 3rd (slightly behind Jagr and Mario)
Goals 2nd (beh Sakic) 5th
Assists 1st 2nd (Mario .732, Forsb .729)
Notice how he, when it mattered most, even was a good scorer - for example having 5th most goals per game of all players. Not bad for an assist guy who is 4th(?) alltime in assists per game.
-----------

To conclude, I think he was "elite".

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Old
07-20-2011, 07:58 PM
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Hate Jay Feaster View Post
How was Forsberg elite at goal scoring?
His goalscoring ability was definitely elite. He could score all types of different goals, and in dominant fashion. In the playoffs during the dead puck era (97-2004, 8 straight years) he was the 3rd best goalscorer on a per game basis behind Sakic and Jagr, including players who played only 40 or more games in this time frame, he played over 100.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...goals_per_game

In 2003 and 04 combined he was 16th in goals per game among players who played atleast 100 games combined in those 2 seasons. His gpg was .41, but the leader in those two years had a .52 (one of them was his linemate Hejduk, the other Naslund) and all but 4 players scored at a .49 clip or lower in the two years combined including Iginla and Kovalchuk. It has to be mentioned that his assist per game was .34 more than anyone who scored at the same rate or higher, and was .25 more than second place Thornton who scored at a .38 goal per game clip in these two years combined, when he was more of a goalscorer than he has been post lockout, but basically as good a playmaker save for the consecutive 90+ assist seasons.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...goals_per_game

And incase you haven't seen, or need to refresh your memory...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRtrQ1YrCzw


Last edited by Infinite Vision*: 07-20-2011 at 08:07 PM.
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Old
07-20-2011, 08:23 PM
  #25
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To add to that he lead the 2002 playoffs in goals and points without even making the finals after not playing a game all year.

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