So over at BTI HQ, we were trying to think of a way to pass the dog days of the hockey offseason. As you can imagine, trying to find content to write about in August can be tough.
So we decided to start a bracket. But a simple bracket of who is the best player in the NHL would end one of two ways: Connor McDavid defeating Sidney Crosby OR Sidney Crosby defeating Connor McDavid in the final. So we switched it up a little.
This is the first installment in our battle bracket to find out who our BTI readers believe is the 3rd best player in the NHL.
THE CASE FOR BRENT BURNS
Brent Burns is the most unique player in the NHL. Not just because of his lack of teeth, tattoos, and odd fashion sense either. This is a guy that all 30 head coaches would love to have on their team as a forward and as a d-man. They don’t make too many like Brent Burns.
On defense, he ranked top 30 in opp SA/60, which may be a bland metric, but it does show how reliable he is at stopping opponents.
Some would mention that he’s a guy who takes too many risks offensively for a defender, but I have two counter arguments for that.
First, his strong skating allows him to recover in most cases. Second, when you’re as good as Brent Burns offensively, you can take as many risks as you want in my eyes. The only defenseman in the same class as Burns is Erik Karlsson and even EK65 doesn’t generate 10 shots a game like Burns does. Seriously, 10 shots a game is wild.
He’s consistent as well, over the past 3 seasons he’s had some very strong box-cars: points (60-70-70) and Assists (43-48-47). He’s also chipped home 20 goals in 3 of the last 4 years and was on pace to do so in the lockout shortened season.
A 5 tool player who skates well, shoots often and accurately, plays physical, has an elite hockey sense and can make good passes out of his zone. Whether you’re down a goal or looking to hold onto a late lead, Burns is the guy you want on the ice, which is why I give him the edge over Carter.
THE CASE FOR JEFF CARTER
Early on in the NHL season last year, I made a case for Jeff Carter to be in contention for the Hart Trophy. He was carrying a team that was going through a difficult season due to injuries to key players and generally just underperforming. Jeff Carter, however, performed at a high level despite the level that his team was playing at.
Carter dominated in all offensive categories for the Kings:
- 1st in Goals (32)
- 1st in Points (66)
- 1st in Powerplay Goals/Points (10/22)
- 1st in Game Winning Goals (9)
- 1st in Overtime Goals (4)
His 32 goals were the most he’s scored since 2011 and they could not have come at a more crucial time for the Kings. Adding to that, Carter had more points than he’s had during his time with the Kings.
He did all of this during a time when the Kings needed him to step up the most. With no Tyler Toffoli for 19 games, an extremely underachieving Anze Kopitar – who had the worst none shortened season of his career – and offence that had only one other 20+ goalscorer – Tanner Pearson.
He was able to step up and perform at an elite level consistently all season when nobody else could.
Carter single-handedly kept the Kings’ playoff hopes alive. Of course, the Kings did not end up making the playoffs but that was through no fault of Carter’s.
Carter’s performances may be overlooked by bigger names in the NHL, but at the end of the day he does exactly what the likes of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby do: he gives his team a chance to win every night.
The difference between Burns and Carter is that Burns has a supporting cast, Carter simply does not.