FanHouse's Adam Gretz takes a look at his top 50 players in the NHL. No. 4 is Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk.
The Detroit player development system strikes again. When discussing the best players in the league the names Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin are usually the ones that get mentioned. I consider Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk to be part of that group, and there's not much of a gap between him at No. 4 and the No. 3 player on my list.
A sixth-round pick in 1998, Datsyuk, like his teammate, Henrik Zetterberg, is one of the NHL's all-time great draft steals, selected by the Red Wings with the 171st overall pick. (Just a quick random note that I found somewhat interesting -- when looking over past drafts to find other late-round gems, the first name I looked up was 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, and former Red Wing, Luc Robitaille, and I noticed that he too was selected 171st overall in his draft class. Just seemed like an odd spot to find two incredible talents).
There may not be a better puckhandler in the league, and he is always capable of doing something you've never seen before on any given shift. Over the past four years he's developed into one of the top scorers in the league, registering 87, 87, 97, and 97 points in each season, finishing in the top-five two times. He's become a consistent 30-goal scorer, and has also averaged over 60 assists per season, finishing in the top-10 four years in a row. He also has his moments where he can dish out some surprisingly crushing hits given his size -- just ask Todd Marchant and Ryan Malone.
As for his hardware: his name is on the Stanley Cup twice, he's owned the Lady Byng Trophy the past four years, and has won the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward twice.
And for your obligatory YouTube video, it's Datsyuk's signature shootout move.