As we consider how the All-Decade Team will be determined, let's get started on considering candidates for each position. For each player listed, there will be relevant stats and awards with a dash of opinion thrown in. It's important to not try to sway opinions too much but we still need to have a little fun with this.
See a glaring absence? State a case for that player in the comments.
Stats from '99-'00 to current: (656 points from 250 goals and 406 assists in the REG; 94 points from 41 goals and 53 assists in the playoffs)
Awards from that period: Hart Trophy (2001); Pearson Trophy (2001); First-team All Star (2001, 2002 and 2004); five All-Star appearances
The amazing thing (actually, one of the many amazing things) about Sakic is that he scored almost 1,000 points before the time frame of consideration. As difficult as it may be, try to consider Sakic's most recent decade of work instead of his entire career.
Besides, Sakic still brought a level of grace (a "quote-less" grace) to the game that is rare for even a hockey player. Most people will remember Sakic for his wicked wrister, but he was also a very good playmaker to boot. An absolute clutch performer, Sakic is one of the best centers of his era.
Stats from that period: (760 points from 232 goals and 528 assists in REG; 48 points from 11 goals and 37 assists in the playoffs)
Awards: Hart trophy ('06); Art Ross ('06); First Team All-Star ('06); 5 All-Star teams
One of the leading point producers of the decade, the common knock on Joe Thornton remains his playoff output. Many would counter that Thornton's post-season play is quite good since coming to San Jose (30 points in 35 playoff games).
Regardless of playoff critiques, Thornton is one of the NHL's most consistently dominant players. His combination of size and playmaking are a nightmare for defenses. With a career average of 2.14 shots per game, it's usually pretty obvious what Thornton is going to do on offense.
But like a pick & roll between Karl Malone and John Stockton, knowing what Thornton is going to do and stopping that act are two enormously different things.
Stats: (612 points from 277 goals and 335 assists in REG; 33 points from 18 goals and 15 assists in playoffs)
Awards: Richard trophy ('07); three All-Star games
It took awhile for Lecavalier to become a star caliber player and that whole "Michael Jordan of hockey" thing probably will not come true. Still, the 6'4" Lecavalier is the prototypical franchise center. He has great size, skates well, can make plays and is terrifying on a breakaway.
How much does playing on a Tampa Bay that - excluding their Stanley Cup run and a season or two around that time - is middling at best and awful at worst affect Lecavalier's numbers?
Stats: (608 points from 260 goals and 348 assists in REG; 41 points from 16 goals and 25 assists in playoffs)
Awards: Four All-Star games
Before the free agent soap opera that eventually took him to Vancouver, Sundin was known as a big, talented Swede and a model of consistency. Even on a Toronto Maple Leafs team that failed to make the playoffs since the 03-04 season, Sundin still managed to record nearly a point per game. And unlike many franchise centers, he rarely had a quality winger to finish the scoring chances he could create.
Stats: (445 points from 121 goals and 334 assists in REG; 92 points from 33 goals and 59 assists in playoffs)
Awards: Hart trophy ('03), Art Ross ('03) First All-Star Team ('03) and two All-Star teams
At this point, we're entering a quality versus quantity discussion. Even though injuries kept Forsberg from putting up massive overall numbers, he's only two playoff points behind Sakic and was one of the most captivating playmakers the hockey world has ever seen.
He also was like an injury prone Alex Ovechkin in that his game was extremely violent for a player of his star quality. Sadly, that tendency toward ultra-violence probably lead to a fragility that only Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr can relate to.
Still, when Forsberg was healthy he's arguably the best forward of the decade. Is that enough to overshadow the fact that he missed so much time?
Guys who are just too young/don't have enough games under their belt: Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin
Honorable mentions: Mike Modano, Marc Savard, Scott Gomez, Brad Richards