Spin Doctors: Crosby vs. Ovechkin

To the guy with all the trophies goes the spoils. The hardware, in this case, is NHL postseason awards. The spoils? Why, top billing in Yahoo! fantasy hockey drafts, of course. The top spot in 2007 drafts belonged to Sidney Crosby. This year Alexander Ovechkin's awards haul has moved the needle.

So who should go No. 1? Matt Romig and Scott Pianowski battle in the corners to take up the fight (in 250 words or less) for their guys.

Romig says: Ovechkin!

Well said, Sidney – and yes, when it comes to the No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts this year, it is as simple as that.

If you concede that Ovechkin and Crosby fly off the board 1-2 in some order, then it's basically a head-to-head battle for No. 1 and frankly it's a (fantasy) mismatch.

Ovie has three 40-goal seasons to Sidney's none. A season ago Ovechkin led the league in goals (65), points (112) and power-play goals (22). If you accept the default scoring setup his 446 shots on goal (almost 100 more than anyone in the league) represented a category-changing total. If clutch goals are your thing, Ovechkin is your man. He had 11 game-winners in 2007-08. Call him the Jeremy Roenick of the Eastern Conference.

This campaign shouldn't have to go negative, but Stanley Cup runner-up status hasn't been kind to players of late. Ottawa had a goalie go off the deep end and lost countless man hours on its top line. The year prior Edmonton basically disbanded its franchise (anyone remember Jarret Stoll?).

I wouldn't expect Pittsburgh to fall off the map, but the abbreviated offseason takes a toll. The fact that Crosby decided not to compete in Beijing in synchronized springboard should speed his recovery, but the fact of the matter is that Ovechkin will report to camp fresher and probably looking pretty darn sharp.

Bottom line: you'll get very similar value and center is simply a deeper position. Go Ovie in '08.

Pianowski says: This is a tough assignment, like picking between pizza or beer, Leinart or Young (oops), or the Doublemint Twins (if you're picking between the Sedin twins, you take Daniel). I expect most fantasy owners to be dazzled by Ovie's hardware grab last year and vote in Washington, but remember that we're projecting the future, not dittoing the past.

Sid's injury-plagued 2007-08 season was better than most realize; his PPG numbers were essentially the same as Ovechkin's, and he's got better playmates on the man advantage (not to mention a deeper pool of potential linemates). Crosby is a runaway winner if we compare their stats from the 2006-07 season, and Ovechkin's shooting percentage and SOG spike from last winter could easily dip this time around. Ovechkin is the more physical player (despite what happened last year, he brings more injury risk in my mind), but Crosby winds up in the box more often (fantasy bonus). And across the league official scorers know the mandate – if Crosby's on the ice during a Pittsburgh goal, you better do all you can to get him an assist on the play.

Ovechkin will get more defensive attention in even-strength situations; Pittsburgh opponents have a pick-your-poison quandary given the presence of Evgeni Malkin. Add it all up and the right answer is simple – pick second, take who falls to you. But if you're sitting in the hot seat, you have to consider Crosby as your top choice. I'm Scott Pianowski and I approve this message.

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