Red Wings restricted free agent center Pavel Datsyuk on his value: "I think I am worth at least what Heatley or Thornton got from their deals."
In his first 209 NHL games, Datsyuk (a sixth round pick in 1998) has 53 goals and 101 assists. Heatley (taken second overall in 2000), has played in only 190 NHL games (all for a far worse team than Detroit) and has 80 goals and 101 assists. Thornton, who had a notoriously poor start to his NHL career (seven points in 55 games as a rookie after being selected first overall in 1997), had 42 goals and 66 assists in his first 217 NHL games, but is almost a full year younger than Datsyuk and has already amassed 267 more points than his Russian counterpart. Looked at another way, Datsyuk has registered just over 36% of the point total of the younger Thornton and hasn't even put up as many points as Heatley, who is two-and-a-half-years his junior.
There's no doubt that Datsyuk is a special talent, but not Thornton talent and the numbers suggest that he's not quite of Heatley's talent either. It's one thing for a player to be confident in his ability. To that end, it's great if Pavel Datsyuk thinks he is as good as Joe Thornton or Dany Heatley. But that is not the issue here - ability and value are two different traits. This is yet another case of an agent blowing smoke up his client's hockey pants, and if the client doesn't wake up and start calling some of the shots soon, the player, the team, the League, the fans - even the agent - will all be worse off.