New England Patriots quarterback and five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady made his way into hockey headlines this week by posing with the Stanley Cup.

No one knows exactly why Brady ended up next to a Pittsburgh Penguins trophy, but the incident predictably enraged Steel City fans. (If Brady owned my city in AFC championships, I'd probably be a little testy, too.)

With the NFL's most polarizing future Hall of Famer dipping his toes into the stuff of NHL legend, though, it got me thinking ... and you can tell we're already nearing the post-free agency summer lull in hockey.

Who is the Tom Brady of today's NHL?

Silly question, I know. Football is nothing like hockey. The role of the Quarterback is far different than that of any player on ice. NHL superstars are more likely quiet catalysts of teamwork rather than spotlighted individuals. The list goes on.

But this is the offseason. So if we had to pick someone who most compares to good old TB12, here are three candidates:

Sidney Crosby

Someone like Wayne Gretzky might've been a logical choice if this group included all-time greats, because there's long been no doubt that Brady ranks among the game's legends. In today's NHL, though, the Pens' Crosby aligns with that notion.

Sidney Crosby is a premier face of the NHL, sometimes an easy target for criticism and a proven winner. USATSI

Like Brady, Sid has got the titles (three of them), the MVPs (two), and the "Super Bowl MVP" Conn Smythe Trophies (two). He's also, rightfully or not, a near-universal target of disdain outside his home team's city. Love him or hate him, his work ethic makes him one of the best in the NHL and in league history books. He's a premier face of the game, and his elite play has helped build a dynasty.

It's almost like I just described Tom Brady.

Jonathan Toews

Another guy with a championship resume that at least holds something of a candle to Brady's five titles, Toews may have had the benefit of a superior supporting cast at times (and that's hockey) but fills the "clutch" category rather well.

Jonathan Toews has plenty of postseason success under his belt in Chicago. USATSI

On intangibles alone, the three-time Stanley Cup winner and five-time Chicago Blackhawks All-Star warrants consideration for being NHL's Brady. He doesn't have the pull of being a historic year-in, year-out superstar at his position, but he's a winner who has often come up big in the biggest of situations.

Duncan Keith

We get a pretty clear indication of how NHL stars differ from NFL stars by acknowledging that both Keith and Toews come from the same team, but here's another three-time championship winner who has a little more clout at his position.

Duncan Keith is an all-time great at his position and also has three championships to his credit. USATSI

As a two-way defenseman, the Blackhawks veteran and alternate captain has reeled in four All-Star nods and a pair of Norris Trophies. Couple Keith's winning track record, which also includes two Olympic gold medals with Canada, with his big numbers  -- and, heck, his suspension history, too -- and you get a decent dark horse for the Brady comparison.