John Tavares, the likely new captain of the Isles, is the pillar of the franchise’s recent progress. (Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
By Allan Muir
Sidney Crosby may be the best player in hockey, but is he also the most irreplaceable?
Doesn’t seem like it.
Everyone expected Pittsburgh’s wheels to fly off last season when their captain was sidelined indefinitely with a broken jaw. Instead, the train picked up speed. Pittsburgh finished the season on a 9-2 run, outscoring its opponents 46-25 while Crosby sipped soup through a straw in the hospital.
Were the Pens a better team without him? Of course not. But they were, and are, in a better position to weather a long-term injury like his because of their enviable depth. Under GM Ray Shero, the organization has become like a shark — knock one tooth out, another just slides up and replaces it.
Every team has to face up to a Crosby-like injury eventually, but few have rows of teeth in reserve. Most would cobble something together and hope to make do. Others, like the injury-ravaged 2013 Ottawa Senators, might prove something to themselves and the league with their resilience.
But some players are so critical to the success of their teams that there’s no way to fill the void if they’re lost long-term.
Here are the players we think are next season’s most irreplaceable.