The NHL is built by rivalries. Whether it is the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadians, or the Philadelphia Flyers battling it out with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hockey rivalries are hockey at it's finest. It is a combination of toughness, and skill that just are not seen in your average NHL game. However the rivalries that were just mentioned are examples of a Team vs. Team rivalry. It is rare that hockey will have an intense player vs. player rivalry that captivates the league for several years. Luckily, fans have been treated to this type rivalry since 2005 when Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin burst on to the scene. While both are still great players, they are just starting to leave the primes of their careers. Ovechkin is now 31, and Crosby is 29. The rivalry between the two is finally starting to lose its luster. Fortunately for NHL fans, there are two candidates that are in perfect position to take the places of Crosby and Ovechkin. Here's who.
Here is the obvious choice. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers will take up the role of Crosby. McDavid possesses a blend of skating ability, and hockey sense that fans have not seen since... well,Sidney Crosby. He is truly a generational talent, who only has room to grow. McDavid is currently tied for the NHL lead in points with 42, and leads the NHL in assists with 29 helpers. What makes these feats even more impressive is McDavid is young, and I mean really young. To those who don't know, Connor McDavid is not allowed to consume alcohol in the United States. No, its not because of some health problem, its because he isn't old enough. Connor McDavid is only 19 years old! Let that sink in for a minute. Most 19 year olds are freshmen in college, that are learning how to play beer pong. Mr. McDavid is the captain of an NHL team, and is currently on the path to becoming the best hockey player on the planet.
Who will replace Ovechkin is a little more complicated. Will it be Auston Matthews, this years No. 1 overall draft pick? Or could it be Jack Eichel , the man drafted No. 2 behind McDavid in the 2015 draft? The answer is neither. The man who will replace Alex Ovechkin in hockey's next great individual rivalry will be Patrik Laine. Laine was selected No.2 overall in this years draft behind Auston Matthews. He currently listed as a 6'5, 206 pound specimen, with a wicked shot. Laine's playing style compares nicely to Ovechkin. Both are oppurtunists, meaning that when given a chance to score, they typically deliver. As of today, Laine is currently tied for second in the NHL in goals with 19. Not to mention, Laine is even younger than McDavid at 18 years old. Looking outside of his playing abilities, Laine possesses supreme confidence. He even borders on being cocky at times. Here's a couple of Patrik Laine quotes to prove my theory.
"I know how good I am, and I'm not afraid to say it."
"From a chance like that I will score 99 times out of 100. The stick will break once."
Laine's personality gives this new rivalry the potential to be even more appealing than Crosby vs. Ovechkin ever was. You see, the only problem in the Crosby vs. Ovechkin era was it was simply a battle of great players. There wasn't any major conflict between the two. Now we have the quiet, good-natured Connor McDavid battling the brash, outspoken Patrik Laine. This is a classic hero vs. villain rivalry that the NHL hasn't had in years. Unfortunately there is always the possibility of this rivalry flaming out. Laine, while impressive up to this point, is still only 18. There's is still the chance of him becoming a bust. Also McDavid needs to stay healthy(Only 45 games in 2015-2016 season). However after surverying the abilities of both players, the chance of this tragic event actually happening is extremely small.
So at the end of the day, Laine vs. McDavid gives much excitement to the future of hockey. Crosby vs. Ovechkin was awesome, but the potential of a Laine vs. McDavid rivalry is through the roof. It combines two great players, with two different personalities on a quest to lead their respective teams to a Stanley Cup Championship. Sounds exciting eh?