Updated: Mar 1, 2020
As we near the end of the decade, it's time that we reflect on what has been an exciting 10 years of NHL hockey.
From the dynasty's of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and LA Kings, to the emergence of young superstars like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews, hockey fans have had plenty to enjoy this past decade.
The last 10 years have brought an abundance of change to the game, now featuring smaller, faster players, and fighting slowly making it's way out of the game.
Despite these changes, a few things remained the same over the 10 year span, including the consistency of these superstars mentioned below.
*To clarify, NHL seasons 2010-2011 to 2019-2020 (thus far) were included for stats, in addition to the 2010 Winter Olympics, as it took place in February 2010, despite technically occurring in the 2009-2010 NHL season*
LW - Alexander Ovechkin - Washington Capitals
GP: 725 G: 411 A: 306 P: 717 P/GP: 0.989
There is no disputing the fact that Alexander Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer of this decade, and of his generation, and I'd even say of all time. Over the past 10 years, we have season Ovechkin dominate teams from his perch on the powerplay with 164 powerplay goals, bulldoze his way through the offensive zone with his 6'3" 238lbs frame, and finally hoist Lord Stanley in the 2017-2018 season.
Ovechkin has been terrorizing goaltenders across the league with one of the hardest and most accurate shots the game has ever seen. Comparing him to the rest of the league, Ovechkin finished 3rd in overall points this decade, behind only the 2 other forwards on my All-Decade Team.
Over the course of this decade Ovechkin has been awarded several individual awards, including 5 Maurice Richard Trophies as leading goal scorer, the Hart Trophy as league MVP, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when he lead the Capitals to their Stanley Cup victory.
Many times we've heard "Ovechkin is slowing down" and the "Capitals can't win with him" yet so far both of those statements have been proven incorrect, and Ovechkin has continued his mid 2000's dominance right through the entirety of the 2010's. The Great Eight is all but a lock for this squad, and he will go down in hockey history as one of the most dominant offensive players the game has ever seen.
C - Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins
GP: 589 G: 268 A: 549 P: 727 P/GP: 1.234
The player of the decade in my eyes, Crosby is a must-have when constructing an All-Decade Team.
Crosby started the decade on the right foot, burying the famed "Golden Goal" for Canada against the USA in 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. While it might sound as though he peaked early, Crosby somehow managed to keep outdoing himself as the decade progressed, including another Olympic Gold in 2014.
Alongside his Stanley Cup 2 years before this decade commenced, Sid hoisted Lord Stanley twice this decade, in back to back years nonetheless. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP on both of these Cup victories, a Maurice Richard Trophy, the Hart Trophy, 2 Ted Lindsay Award's as most outstanding as voted by peers, and the Art Ross trophy as the highest point getter.
Despite missing large portions of time due to injuries, mainly concussion related, Crosby still managed to outscore Ovechkin by 10 points, despite playing 136 fewer games.
Crosby's 1.234 points per game is far and away the highest of anyone who played 5+ seasons this decade, and trails only Connor McDavid, who played over 200 fewer games and in just now in his 5th NHL season.
While Crosby may not have the flash of McDavid, nor the overpowering attributes of Ovechkin, there is no denying that Sid the Kid is the face of this decade, and won just about everything imaginable along the way just to prove it.
RW - Patrick Kane - Chicago Blackhawks
GP: 696 G: 300 A: 454 P: 754 P/GP: 1.083
The highest scoring player of the 2010's. . . Patrick Kane.
While Kane might not be the first person you think of when you think of hockey in the 2010's, he pops up in just about every category or statistic you could possibly research from this decade.
Much like Crosby, alongside Kane's Stanley Cup victory the year prior to this decade, he went on to win 2 more Stanley Cup's during the Blackhawks crazy run. Along with the team hardware, Kane also was awarded the Conn Smythe, along with the Art Ross, the Hart, and the Ted Lindsay each once over this decade.
Kane's 1.083 points per game puts him 3rd amongst players who have played 500+ games this decade, behind just Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Kane also cemented himself as an American hockey icon, leading the way in almost every statistic for American born players over this span.
Out of the 3 forwards I chose, Kane is likely the closest to being replaced by anyone, but even then, he amassed the most points over this decade and lead his team on some extremely dominant playoff runs, so really, is there a debate?
D - Kris Letang - Pittsburgh Penguins
GP: 558 G: 100 A: 339 P: 439 P/GP: 0.787
Perhaps the most controversial selection on this team, allow me to defend my take on Kris Letang.
Letang was one of the first dominant defencemen in this decade who fit the bill of a 2019-2020 d-man; smooth skating, speedy, loves jumping up to take chances, not overly big, not overly physical, and defends by closing the gap with speed and hanging onto the puck upon getting it.
Now, the biggest knock on Letang's career has long been his unfortunate run-ins with injuries. While the narrative is that he can't stay healthy for extended periods of time, when you look deeper, he only played 99 games less than the nearly unanimous d-man of the decade, Erik Karlsson.
Letang's 0.787 points per game is 2nd in this decade, behind only Karlsson, and a slight margin ahead of Brent Burns. While Burns could take Letang's spot on this list, as he ranks 2nd in overall points and has amassed over 700 games this decade, I feel that Letang had better longevity over the 2010's, and had much more team success, giving him the edge in my opinion.
While Letang has never received a league award, he is a multiple-time Norris Trophy Finalist as best defenceman, and was a key contributor on the Penguins 2 Stanley Cup victories.
As I said, this may be the least certain of my picks, but I've always been a huge fan of Letang's game and feel he's never really received the attention he deserves as a superstar in the league.
D - Erik Karlsson - Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks
GP: 657 G: 127 A: 437 P: 564 P/GP: 0.858
While EK65 might not fly around the ice quite like he used to in Ottawa, he will go down as the best defenceman of this decade, and rightfully so.
While Letang was the epitome of a modern defenceman, Karlsson was the epitome of an offensive dynamo. Nobody flew up the ice like he could; the king of the 1 man breakout. His vision with the puck was unparalleled, his rink-wide saucer passes were unlike anything we'd ever seen, and his smooth stride drew endless comparisons to the legend Bobby Orr.
His point per game pace is unrivalled in this decade by other defenceman, and he did all this on some subpar teams in Ottawa. When they eventually got it going in the Nation's capital, Karlsson lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals despite being incredibly banged up.
Karlsson was the recipient of the Norris Trophy twice this decade, and won Silver in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Karlsson paved the way for the next wave of offensive d-men, and was quite frankly unlike any d-man we had seen in a long time, and he is an absolute non-negotiable for me on this list.
G - Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights
GP: 522 W: 305 GAA: 2.42 SV%: 0.917 SO: 42
Wow, what a decade for goalies.
20 netminders played over 400 games in the 2010s, and 10 more played over 300.
Thus far, 8 different netminders have won the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie, with Sergei Bobrovsky being the only one to repeat.
Of these 30 goaltenders mentioned above, 28 of them boast a save percentage over 0.910 or higher, and 26 of them recorded 20 or more shutouts through the 2010's.
Getting into Fleury though, despite never winning a Vezina (what a joke) he's been the model for consistency in net. Fleury has won 3 Stanley Cups, 2 in this decade, and was a dominant netminder during his time in Pittsburgh, before joining Vegas' and leading them to the Cup final in their inaugural season.
In the 2010's, Fleury played the 3rd most games, leads all netminders with his 305 wins, ranks 3rd in shutouts, and had the 6th best goals against average of goalies with over 300 games played.
Most impressive to me, and what lead me to place him ahead of some of the other options, is the fact that Fleury has played in the playoffs every single year of this decade. Including his 2 Cup's this decade with Pittsburgh and his amazing run with Vegas, Fleury's teams were in the Finals 3 years in a row. Was Matt Murray in net for a large portion of the one cup run? For sure, but Fleury got them to that point and following seasons proved he was still an elite goalie.
Overall, you really can't go wrong with Pekka Rinne, Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, or even Jonathan Quick (prior to recent couple years) but was stands out to me with Fleury is the consistency and the wins, along with his playoff success.
In summary, this was an amazing decade of hockey from a fan's perspective, and we have seen some of the most exciting NHL action to date. Each one of these players will be in Hall of Fame consideration when it's all said and done, and they aren't done yet!