Here's a look at the past decade's top players (in no particular order):
True, Ovechkin has been around for only four seasons, but his highlight-reel résumé is already overflowing with dramatic images, as he has established himself as the game's most dynamic player. In his short career, Ovechkin has managed to earn a rookie of the year award, one scoring title and back-to-back Hart Trophies as the game's most valuable player. In 2008, he became the first player to capture the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy and MVP honors in the same year. He has amassed 221 goals in four seasons, more than any other NHL player.
Like Ovechkin, Crosby's presence in the league has been short, but his résumé is already the stuff of legend. After winning a scoring title in just his second season, he rebounded from a serious high-ankle sprain in 2007-08 to lead the youthful Pens to the Cup finals and finished tied for the playoff scoring lead with 27 points. Third in the NHL in scoring last season, Crosby was a force throughout the playoffs for the Stanley Cup-champion Penguins, leading all scorers with 15 postseason goals, including two game winners.
Six times in the past decade, Lidstrom was named the NHL's best defenseman and twice was runner-up for the Norris Trophy. He won a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002 and helped the Detroit Red Wings win Cups in 2002 and 2008 as well as go to the Stanley Cup finals this past spring. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, Lidstrom will spark debate of whether he may well be the greatest defenseman of all time.
After being overlooked earlier in his career, Brodeur took home four Vezina Trophies between 2003 and 2008 and was a finalist the other year during that span. He also earned his second and third Stanley Cup rings during the past decade (2000 and 2003) and mixed in an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.
The second overall draft pick in 1993, Pronger won the Hart Trophy in 2000 to become the first defenseman since Bobby Orr in 1972 to earn MVP honors. Pronger, also named the Norris Trophy winner in 2000, then led the Edmonton Oilers to a surprise Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2006 before hoisting the Cup for the first time with Anaheim in 2007. He won a gold medal with Team Canada in 2002 and will be a lock to make the 2010 squad.
Between 1999 and 2009, the dynamic Czech winger won three scoring titles, earned the Hart Trophy and was runner-up for the Hart twice. After being considered by some critics to be something of a coach killer as he bounced from Pittsburgh to Washington to New York, Jagr emerged as a true leader with the Rangers after the lockout before signing on with the Kontinental Hockey League after the 2008 playoffs. Gone, but not forgotten.
The good-natured leader of the Calgary Flames was a surprise member of Canada's gold-medal-winning team in 2002, the same year he won an NHL scoring title and was runner-up for the Hart Trophy. He finished second in MVP voting again in 2004 after the Flames lost to Tampa Bay in seven games in the Stanley Cup finals.
The classy Anaheim Ducks defender won Cups with New Jersey (2000, 2003) and Anaheim (2007) during the past decade along with a boatload of individual honors that included his first Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman in 2004 and playoff MVP honors in 2007. Niedermayer, a gold medalist in 2002 with Canada, was also a Norris runner-up twice.
Although Forsberg's lack of durability always will cloud the discussion of his greatness, he was part of the Avs' Stanley Cup finals run in 2001 as he posted 14 points in 11 games before a ruptured spleen ended his playoff season. The next season, Forsberg missed the entire regular season but returned with a heroic performance in the playoffs, recording 27 points in 20 games as the Avs fell in the Western Conference finals. In 2003, he won an Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer and MVP honors.
The legendary Colorado captain finished in the top 10 in NHL scoring four times between 2000-01 and 2005-06 and won the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award in 2001. His steadying presence personified the Avalanche organization that, for many years, was a constant Cup contender. Sakic also was captain of the Canadian Olympic team in 2006 and a member of Canada's gold-medal effort in 2002.