I’ve always been interested in how the game has changed since the 2004-05 lockout and as time has passed, we have gotten a larger and larger sample size of how players have performed since that dramatic lockout. As we are now in the 12th season since that time, I figured a look at the top players since that era would be interested. As it’s difficult to compare players between positions, I’ve split it into forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders. It should be noted that I place a fairly high value on longevity. One-off seasons or short spurts of offense do not win big points with me. Staring with the forwards, here’s my take:
- Martin St. Louis
Most players deteriorate with age. Martin St. Louis was not one of those players. While St. Louis had an extremely strong season just prior to the 2005 lockout, he was no slouch in the post-lockout NHL either. Not only did he win three Byng Trophies (and placed 2nd four other times), but St. Louis finished third in Hart voting in the 2010-11 season, at the age of 36. He had 99 points and an impressive 68 assists, with the latter being his career-best. While St. Louis’ highest career point total was in 2006-07 with 102 points, arguably his best season was in the shortened 2012-13 season when he led the NHL with 60 points in 48 games. Despite winning the Art Ross trophy, he only finished 9th in Hart voting. St. Louis’ No. 26 was retired by the Tampa Bay Lightning in January of 2017.
- Henrik Zetterberg
Consistency is the name of the game for Zetterberg. While he has never won any major regular season awards, he had consistently been a force for the Detroit Red Wings over his long career. Zetterberg began as a dynamic offensive forward who could score and set up plays, most notably shown by his 2007-08 season, in which he scored 43 goals and added 49 assists for 92 points. He finished 10th in Hart voting, and as a testament to his two-way game, also third in Selke voting. His most notable award was the Conn Smythe in 2008 as his Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. As he began to hit his 30s, Zetterberg’s game began to become more about playmaking than goal scoring, and he set his career high of 56 assists in the 2010-11 season. Zetterberg has been the team captain since Nicklas Lidstrom retired in 2013.
- Patrick Kane
Kane has been one of the most dynamic and exciting forwards to watch ever since he entered the NHL back in 2007. He started off with a bang in winning the Calder trophy as a rookie and didn’t slow down. His 88-point season in the 2009-10 season got him on the First All-Star Team and 7th in Hart voting. Kane continued to be a consistent 20-30 goal scorer, even in the shortened 2012-13 season. To finish off that strong but short season, Kane’s Blackhawks won the cup and Kane was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy. Kane’s offense exploded in the 2015-16 season as he led the entire league with 106 points and 46 goals, far above his previous career bests. On top of the Art Ross, he also won the Hart and Ted Lindsay awards.
- Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk is one of the best two-way players to ever play in the NHL. Not only did he dominate offensively, but his defense was stellar, regularly leading the league’s forwards in takeaways. Datsyuk had back-to-back 97-point seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09, winning the Selke in both years and finishing 3rd in Hart voting in the 2008-09 season. Even though Datsyuk’s offense tailed off a bit as he reached his 30s, he was still regularly in contention for the Selke, winning it for a third consecutive year in the 2009-10 season. After that, he had three consecutive third place finishes for the Selke. Even in Datsyuk’s final NHL season (so far), he still had a decent level of offensive production and finished 9th in Selke voting, despite being 37 years of age.
- Daniel Sedin
There were few, if any, combinations more deadly than the Sedin twins in the post-lockout era. The more goal-oriented of the duo, Daniel saw his offensive numbers increase slowly but surely as the lockout progressed, reaching their apex at the turn of the decade in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Daniel first burst onto the goal-scoring scene with 36 goals in the 2006-07 season. While that was good, he didn’t establish himself as a superstar player until the 2009-10 season. Despite only playing in 63 games, Daniel managed 85 points and an extremely impressive 56 assists. While his brother Henrik won the Hart trophy in the 2009-10 season, Daniel got his time in the spotlight in the 2010-11 season. While Corey Perry’s 50-goal season took the Hart from Daniel, Daniel did still win the Ted Lindsay and Art Ross trophies with 41 goals and 104 points. While Daniel was known as the goal-scoring half of the duo, his playmaking ability was not to be underestimated, and it has become more pronounced in recent seasons as his goal scoring has dropped off. Daniel is currently the all-time goal scoring leader in Canucks history and is nearing his 1000th career point.