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Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid has taken the NHL by storm early in his career, but his team’s partner and vice chairman doesn’t think he has surpassed Sidney Crosby as the league’s best player.
Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky compared the two Thursday, giving the nod to Crosby, per Craig Custance of ESPN.com: “Sid is still the best player in hockey. That’s a mantle you earn over time. It’s one of those things where you have to earn that title.”
It is a testament to McDavid’s overwhelming ability that Gretzky was even asked the question.
The 19-year-old leads the NHL with 36 points and has the 14-10-4 Oilers atop the Pacific Division after a last-place finish in 2015-16.
Crosby isn’t just resting on his laurels, though. He’s in the top five in the NHL with 27 points and is tied with Winnipeg Jets playmaker Patrik Laine for first in the league with 17 goals despite playing eight fewer games than McDavid because of a concussion.
Still, Gretzky pointed out Crosby’s past accomplishments when explaining his reasoning for ranking the Pittsburgh Penguins’ leader as the league’s best player, per Custance:
Is Connor a great player? Absolutely. Does Connor have an opportunity to be the next Crosby? Absolutely. Right now, Sidney deserves to be known as the best player in the game. He’s been the best player consistently in his career. He’s won Stanley Cups and he’s won gold medals. Until somebody takes that mantle away from him, he’s still going to hold the crown.
If anyone is qualified to comment on who the league’s best player is, it’s Gretzky. Known as the Great One during his career, Gretzky is widely considered the best hockey player in NHL history. The four-time Stanley Cup champion also recognized the value of winning in his evaluation of the gap between McDavid and Crosby.
Crosby captured the 2008-09 and 2015-16 Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. He also won the 2016 Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 19 points on six goals and 13 assists.
His resume is loaded with accomplishments, including the 2006-07 and 2013-14 Hart Memorial Trophies as the NHL’s MVP. He also won the 2006-07 and 2013-14 Art Ross Trophies as the league’s top point scorer and the 2009-10 Maurice Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer.
McDavid, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, has already established himself as one of the faces of the sport in just 73 career games. He may work his way into the discussion with Crosby, but as Gretzky said, it’s too soon to elevate him above the Penguins star.