Who Is the Next Wayne Gretzky?
By Rachel Alexander
Like the NBA after the departure of Michael Jordan, the NHL has been left looking for the Next One since the Great One retired last month. Hockey has had no better luck than basketball in finding someone truly worthy the title, but the NHL does have some candidates for the title of "best player," if not "best ever."
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing
Vital statistics: 44 goals and 83 assists in 81 games this season. Won third Art Ross scoring trophy this season; a favorite to win most valuable player honors.
What they're saying: "He's the new generation he's it," teammate Matthew Barnaby said. "I don't think there's ever going to be another Wayne Gretzky or that anyone else is going to break Wayne's records, but Jagr is the guy who will be that type of player in the new millennium."
Anaheim Mighty Ducks winger
Vital statistics: 39 goals and 62 points in 82 games this season. Diabolic work ethic, effortless finesse and still-unmeasured talent.
What they're saying: "I think as far as having that superstar talent as well as having a superstar approach away from the game and being a type of role model that kids can really attach themselves to, I think Paul Kariya is the one guy that I would say is a guy that is going to come up and take this game over and really promote it off the ice," Buffalo winger Michael Peca said.
Philadelphia Flyers center
Vital statistics: 40 goals and 53 assists in 71 games. Powers his way through games and opponents.
What they're saying: "I think you could make a strong case for Eric," Flyers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck said. "He's got the strength, the skill, the size. And he's an incredible competitor. He always wants to win."
Colorado Avalanche center
Vital statistics: 30 goals and 67 assists in 78 games this season; extremely strong on the puck, a sharp passer who thinks ahead of the play; great speed.
What they're saying: "There's no one who can compare to what he can do on certain nights," former teammate Keith Jones said. "It is a pleasure to watch him play. I know the fans appreciate it. I know the players do as well."
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