Crosby/Ovechkin/Malkin: Who is the “Next” One?

In the fantasy hockey world there is group of players known as the ‘Elite Three’, who are Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Being a member of the ‘Elite Three’ means that in every fantasy draft these three players should be drafted with the first three picks. It also means that you should never ever trade one of these players unless you are getting back another member of the ‘Elite Three.’

The play of Steven Stamkos this season has moved him into this elite group. Stamkos has scored two hat tricks and four game winning goals already this season as part of his 21 goals.  Stamkos has only failed to record a point in three of the 21 games this season and has recorded two or more points in 11 games. Stamkos is on pace for a 78 goal and 142 point season which has moved him into Malkin’s spot on the ‘Elite Three’.

Malkin is still a dominant offensive player but his play over this season and last has moved him out of the ‘elite’ status. Malkin failed to record over 100 points last season after doing it two seasons in a row and is only on pace for 78 point season. Malkin is on pace for a 26 goal season which means his goal totals have dropped in each of the last three seasons.

So who could be the next player to steal a spot in the ‘Elite Three’ or expand it to the ‘Elite Four’?

Claude Giroux is on the cusp of offensive greatness. Giroux is playing on a very deep Philadelphia Flyers team, which has allowed them to develop him slowly, and that strategy has paid off.  Giroux is showing that his 21 points in 23 playoffs games last playoffs was no fluke as he is scoring at a higher rate this season. The scariest part is that Giroux is on pace for a 42 goal and 81 point season and is not getting first line minutes.  Even though he is third on the Flyers depth chart for centers, Giroux has all the tools to be one of the leagues best playmakers.

John Tavares value is at the lowest it will ever be for his career. Now is the time to make a pitch for this young star in the making. Tavares is all about scoring points, all you have to do is look at his junior numbers. The reason Tavares has yet to explode on the score sheets like Crosby, Ovechkin or Stamkos has to do with the lack of talent surrounding him. Long-term injuries this season to Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit has left the Islanders without their second and third leading scorers last season.

Tavares is still on pace for a career high 35 goals but being on pace for only 52 points is not what fans were hoping for. New York Islander fans were hoping for a similar sophomore explosion like Stamkos did last season. If you currently own Tavares don’t panic and trade him right now as he struggles. Tavares will be in the finally year of his entry contract and the thought of him signing else where should get his fantasy owners salivating at the chance to play on a better team.

If you try making an offer for an ‘Elite Three’ players you will have to make a ridiculous offer and could set your fantasy roster back several years because you had to overpay for just one player. The key to winning your hockey pool is picking of the next superstar just before he becomes elite so that you can get that player at a reduced price.

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