Pavel Datsyuk: Is the Magic Man Overrated?

Ryan Lambert, columnist for Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy blog, posted a couple of interesting tweets Tuesday morning regarding Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk.

While I don’t agree with his overall assessment of Datsyuk, Lambert isn’t completely off base with his tweets.

So Datsyuk is still a good player in the eyes of Lambert, which is the part I agree with him on. However, Lambert quickly followed up this tweet with another.

It’s true: Datsyuk has had bad luck with injuries, especially last year when he missed 37 games, mostly due to knee issues. The unfortunate thing for Datsyuk is he just turned 36 in July, and he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning of it.

[Related: Top 5 Overrated NHL Players]

To make his case for why he thinks Datsyuk is not a top-10 center, Lambert listed 10 centers who he believes are better than the Magic Man.

Ask any Red Wings fan, and you can believe they will claim blasphemy on Lambert’s opinion. However, Lambert isn’t exactly out of line here. Yes, Datsyuk is still a good player, but he isn’t the same player he used to be six to eight years ago when he consistently put up 85+ points per season.

With that being said, point totals should not be the only thing that determines whether or not a player is good. Datsyuk does a lot of other things better than most of the players on Lambert’s list, such as winning faceoffs, being a great two-way player and making his teammates around him better.

In fact, Datsyuk had a better faceoff percentage last year than Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Getzlaf, John Tavares and Tyler Seguin and more takeaways than Jonathan Towes, Patrice Bergeron, Crosby, Kopitar, Stamkos, Malkin and Getzlaf despite missing 37 games.

Here’s a highlight reel of Datsyuk’s 2013-14 season, which includes more than just goal scoring.

As far as Lambert’s list goes, I would put Datsyuk ahead of Getzlaf, Tavares, Seguin and Joe Thornton right behind Bergeron. He deserves to be in the list of top-10 centers in the league, but he isn’t the best at his position.

So is Datsyuk overrated? No, not by any means. I think if you ask any unbiased fan of the game, they will tell you Datsyuk is still a really good player. But by no means is he the greatest right now, and I think most people realize that.

There are a lot of great centers in the league, and Datsyuk is one of them, not the one.