Because it was based in 1917, the NHL has been the house of hockey legends from around the globe. Within the league’s 100-year historical past, numerous icons have dazzled followers with the various talents it takes to be a star within the sport.
We’ve rounded up our picks for the 35 biggest gamers in NHL historical past, together with a mixture of all positions. Evaluating scorers to defensemen and goalies isn’t actually truthful, so we’ve listed the gamers in alphabetical order, slightly than rating them. All statistics come from Hockey-Reference.com.
Our picks span all eras of the league’s historical past, together with many Corridor of Famers and even a couple of present stars. Did your favourite NHL legend make the listing?
- 1 Ed Belfour
- 2 Jean Béliveau
- 3 Mike Bossy
- 4 Ray Bourque
- 5 Martin Brodeur
- 6 Pavel Bure
- 7 Bobby Clarke
- 8 Paul Coffey
- 9 Sidney Crosby
- 10 Ken Dryden
- 11 Tony Esposito
- 12 Ron Francis
- 13 Wayne Gretzky
- 14 Glenn Corridor
- 15 Doug Harvey
- 16 Dominik Hasek
- 17 Gordie Howe
- 18 Bobby Hull
- 19 Brett Hull
- 20 Jaromír Jágr
- 21 Patrick Kane
- 22 Man Lafleur
- 23 Mario Lemieux
- 24 Nicklas Lidstrom
- 25 Henrik Lundqvist
- 26 Mark Messier
- 27 Bobby Orr
- 28 Alex Ovechkin
- 29 Jacques Plante
- 30 Maurice Richard
- 31 Larry Robinson
- 32 Patrick Roy
- 33 Joe Sakic
- 34 Terry Sawchuk
- 35 Eddie Shore
Years within the league: 1989-2008
Eddie “The Eagle” Belfour had a stellar profession between the pipes in any respect ranges of the game, profitable a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and an NCAA championship. Regardless of initially being undrafted, he now ranks third amongst all NHL goaltenders in profession wins, ninth in shutouts and fifth in complete minutes performed. Belfour gained his Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 however is greatest remembered for his years with the Chicago Blackhawks, the place he gained two Vezina Trophies, given annually to the league’s greatest goalie.
Getty Photographs | Dave Sandford
Years within the league: 1950-1971
Like many gamers who have been a part of the Montreal Canadiens within the 1950s-1970s, all Jean Béliveau did was win. He gained 10 Stanley Cups as a participant with the Habs and one other seven as an government with the staff, giving him probably the most Stanley Cup wins of any individual in NHL historical past. He was seen as revolutionizing the sport because of the velocity of his photographs, his stick-handling capability and his smarts on the ice.
If the Canadiens are the New York Yankees of hockey historical past, Béliveau was their Lou Gehrig, retiring in 1971 because the workforce’s all-time chief in factors and its biggest playoff scorer.
Years within the league: 1977-1987
If Mike Bossy’s profession had been longer, it’s scary to assume what he might have executed. He makes a robust case as the best pure scorer in NHL historical past, turning in additional than 50 objectives per season in 9 of his 10 seasons within the league, together with 5 with at the very least 60 objectives. Bossy is an icon in Lengthy Island, serving to lead the New York Islanders to 4 straight Stanley Cup titles from 1980-1983. Again accidents ended his run early however Bossy nonetheless reigns because the NHL’s all-time chief in goals-per-game common.
Years within the league: 1979-2001
A Boston legend, Ray Bourque is among the most dynamic defenders the NHL has ever seen. Regardless of being a defenseman, he’s 11th in all-time profession factors and has extra photographs on aim than any participant in league historical past. Throughout his 22 seasons, he made the All-Star recreation 19 years in a row and gained the Norris Trophy 5 occasions, which acknowledges the league’s greatest defenseman. He lastly gained a Stanley Cup in his remaining season, enjoying with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
Years within the league: 1991-2015
Arguably the best goalie in hockey historical past, Marty Brodeur holds the NHL’s all-time document for wins and saves by a goaltender — and it’s not even shut. Along with 691 wins, his 125 profession shutouts is one of the best ever and no one has performed extra minutes in objective.
In 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, he gained three Stanley Cups and helped the group make the playoffs 17 occasions. Brodeur gained the Vezina Trophy 4 occasions in his profession and stands as the one goalie to ever win a minimum of 40 video games in eight totally different seasons.
Getty Photographs | Elsa
Years within the league: 1989-2003 (inactive in the course of the 2004-2005 season)
The “Russian Rocket” thrilled hockey followers for over a dozen seasons within the NHL. He was twice the league’s prime scorer and had 5 seasons of at the least 50 objectives, making you marvel how rather more he might have finished if accidents hadn’t reduce brief his profession. Because it was, Bure completed fifth all-time in objectives per recreation and is the league’s biggest penalty-shot scorer.
Getty Pictures | Dave Sandford
Years within the league: 1969-1984
The busted-up face of the Philadelphia Flyers’ Broad Road Bullies glory days of the 1970s, Bobby Clarke gained two Stanley Cups and three Hart Trophies as NHL MVP throughout his years with the group. Greater than 34 years after his retirement, he sits at fifth all-time in plus-minus (aka aim differential). Clarke proved to be an incredible teammate, ending his profession at fourth all-time in assists as of 1984.
Years within the league: 1980-2001
One of many few all-time nice hockey gamers who could possibly be thought-about a journeyman, Paul Coffey performed for 9 totally different NHL groups throughout his profession, which is greater than some other Corridor of Famer. Coffey is counted among the many biggest scoring defensemen in hockey historical past, as soon as tallying 48 objectives in a single season, which continues to be a report for the place. He gained 4 Stanley Cups in his profession and nonetheless stands as one of the best when it comes to profession playoff objectives and playoff factors by a defenseman in NHL historical past.
Years within the league: 2005-present
The moniker “Sid the Kid” might not apply to this 31-year-old NHL veteran who has lived as much as all of the hype from when he was drafted No. 1 general in 2005. A pure chief on the ice, Crosby has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to 3 Stanley Cup titles in his time with the workforce and has gained the Hart Trophy twice as NHL MVP. He’s had a number of seasons reduce brief as a consequence of concussion-related accidents however seems to have loads of profitable left in him because the face of the league.
Getty Photographs | Patrick Smith
Years within the league: 1971-1979 (absent the 1973-1974 season, throughout which he was a authorized clerk)
Lengthy earlier than turning into a member of Canada’s Parliament, goalie Ken Dryden put collectively perhaps probably the most staggeringly environment friendly profession in NHL historical past. He performed solely seven full NHL seasons however, in that point, gained six Stanley Cups and 5 Vezina Trophies. Dryden’s insane .740 profession profitable proportion will possible by no means be surpassed and he stands alone with the NHL’s all-time greatest adjusted objectives towards common.
Years within the league: 1968-1984
Probably the greatest goalies in NHL historical past, Tony Esposito nonetheless holds the data for wins and shutouts for the Chicago Blackhawks franchise. His personal Corridor of Fame profession typically will get overshadowed by older brother Phil Esposito, however Tony gained a Stanley Cup to go together with three Vezina Trophies. At the moment, Esposito holds the NHL’s all-time mark for objectives saved above common, surpassing second place by a substantial margin.
Years within the league: 1981-2004
In the event you have been in search of a participant who might make your whole group higher, Ron Francis is a superb selection. One of many NHL’s all-time nice passers, he has the second-most assists in league historical past with 1,249. He was a continuing presence on the ice in his 23-season profession, ending fourth all-time in NHL video games performed and fifth in profession factors. Francis gained two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins within the 1990s.
Years within the league: 1979-1999
Only a few sports activities have an agreed-upon biggest participant however hockey is certainly one of them. Identify a marquee offensive statistic and Wayne Gretzky in all probability holds the NHL’s all-time report in it. Profession factors, objectives scored, assists, hat tips — he’s one of the best in all of them. Oh, and he additionally gained 4 Stanley Cups and 9 Hart Trophies. They don’t name him “The Great One” for nothing.
Years within the league: 1953-1971
The Iron Man of NHL goaltenders, Glenn Corridor is the one goalie in league historical past to make no less than 500 consecutive begins. Corridor is seen as an innovator of his place and gained the Vezina Trophy 3 times. He additionally gained two Stanley Cups and was named to 13 straight NHL All-Star video games.
Years within the league: 1948-1969
A standout for the Montreal Canadiens’ dynasty within the 1960s, Doug Harvey stands as one of many NHL’s most feared defenders ever. He gained six Stanley Cups to go together with seven Norris Trophies, given to the league’s greatest defenseman. In 2017, his longtime Habs teammate Tom Johnson advised NHL.com that Harvey might have performed any place on the ice and been nice at it, together with goalie.
Years within the league: 1991-2008
Probably probably the most feared goaltender in hockey historical past, “The Dominator” earned his highly effective nickname. Hasek gained two Stanley Cups, six Vezina Trophies and is the one goalie to have gained two Hart Trophies. His .9223 profession save proportion is the most effective in NHL historical past and his objectives towards common is the perfect of anybody who performed previous 1941. A tireless competitor till the top, Hasek didn’t retire from the NHL till he was 43 years previous.
Getty Pictures | Tom Pidgeon
Years within the league: 1947-1980
No one in NHL historical past had a profession like Gordie Howe’s. “Mr. Hockey” spent a document 26 seasons within the league and performed in additional video games than another participant in historical past. He gained 4 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Pink Wings and 6 Hart Trophies and was regarded for his prolific scoring talents. Among the many ridiculous NHL data Howe holds are complete video games performed (1,767), having 22 seasons the place he scored at the least 20 objectives, enjoying his remaining recreation on the age of 52 and having one of the best mark for adjusted objectives scored.
Years within the league: 1958-1980
Chicago’s blond bombshell, “The Golden Jet” was one of many league’s most thrilling gamers in his day. Hull gained a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks and two Hart Trophies, whereas additionally main the league in factors 3 times. Hull might crush the puck, with NHL.com writing that he was “blessed with a blistering slap shot.”
Years within the league: 1987-2006
Like father, like son. Bobby Hull’s son, Brett, stepped out of his dad’s mighty shadow and put collectively a Corridor of Fame profession of his personal. Hull gained two Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy, helped by his prolific scoring capability. Hull scored at the least 50 objectives in 5 straight seasons, together with 86 in a single yr, and stands at fourth when it comes to profession objectives scored in NHL historical past.
Getty Pictures | Elsa
Years within the league: 1991-2018
Arguably Europe’s biggest contribution to the NHL, Jaromír Jágr may be probably the most clutch scorer in league historical past, having made extra game-winning objectives than some other participant. Jágr stands at second in complete profession factors with 1,921 and at third in profession objectives scored with 766. His 15 consecutive seasons of scoring at the very least 30 objectives can also be an NHL report. Along with profitable two Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy, Jágr gained 5 Artwork Ross Trophies from 1995 to 2001, given yearly to the league’s prime factors scorer.
Getty Photographs | Mike Ehrmann
Years within the league: 2008-present
Certainly one of America’s biggest hockey merchandise ever, 29-year-old Patrick Kane has already gained three Stanley Cups in simply eleven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2016, he turned the primary American NHL participant to ever lead the league in scoring and to win the Hart Trophy. Kane is one other younger participant who has lived as much as his personal hype, scoring at the very least 64 factors in each season since his debut and averaging greater than some extent per recreation.
Getty Pictures | Sean M. Haffey
Years within the league: 1972-1985 (got here out of retirement to play once more from 1989-1991)
Regardless of his candy nickname, “The Flower,” Man Lafleur was one thing NHL defenses needed no a part of within the 1970s. He made historical past as the primary participant in league historical past to attain 50 objectives and 100 factors in six consecutive seasons, setting the development for prolific scorers who would comply with. He gained 5 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, in addition to two Hart Trophies. He’s the all-time main factors scorer in Habs historical past.
Years within the league: 1985-1994, 1996-1997, 2001-2004 and 2006
Regardless of towering at 6 ft four inches tall, “The Magnificent One” moved like a person half his measurement on the ice. Quite a few well being points stored his profession stats from reaching the heights it doubtless would have however he at present sits at eighth in profession NHL factors, in addition to second in objectives per recreation and assists per recreation. He had an unimaginable 10 seasons of 100 factors or extra.
Lemieux gained two Stanley Cups as a participant with the Pittsburgh Penguins however ended up shopping for the staff and main them to 3 further titles because the franchise’s proprietor.
Getty Pictures | Getty Photographs
Years within the league: 1992-2012
You can also make a robust argument that Nicklas Lidstrom is the best defenseman in NHL historical past. He gained seven Norris Trophies and 4 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Pink Wings, turning into probably the legendary franchise’s greatest participant not named Howe. He performed 20 seasons with the Pink Wings and the group made the playoffs each single yr in that stretch. His profession plus-minus is eighth greatest in NHL historical past, proving the distinction he made to his teammates.
Getty Pictures | Jeff Vinnick
Years within the league: 2006-present
Regardless of his laundry listing of milestones, all achieved whereas enjoying on the planet’s largest media market, Henrik Lundqvist stays missed by some hockey analysts. Lundqvist was left off of the NHL’s 2017 listing of its 100 greatest gamers — the one participant on this record to not make that one — however he’s the one goalie in NHL historical past to succeed in 30 wins in each full season he’s performed, was the quickest goalie to ever attain 400 wins and holds the NHL document for many mixed saves within the common season and playoffs.
He’s additionally been referred to as probably the most clutch goaltender in NHL historical past because of his excellent performances in recreation sevens of varied playoff collection.
Getty Photographs | Mike Ehrmann
Years within the league: 1979-2004
A teammate and captain of a number of greats on this record, Mark Messier gained six Stanley Cups in his stellar profession, cut up between the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. He ranks third all-time in factors tallied, second in complete video games performed and eighth in objectives scored. His playoff manufacturing makes him a real legend, as Messier ranks second in profession playoff factors amongst all NHL gamers. He additionally gained two Hart Trophies and was named to 15 NHL All-Star Video games.
Getty Photographs | Dave Sandford
Years within the league: 1967-1979
Ask a gaggle of hockey followers who the best participant of all time was and also you’re nearly assured to get a couple of who will inform you it’s Bobby Orr. The Boston Bruins icon is a real legend of the game and one who got here to outline his place as a defenseman. He gained eight straight Norris Trophies and two Stanley Cups. His most ardent followers will level to his profession plus-minus of plus-582, which is second in NHL historical past, and the only season his plus-minus was plus-124, a report that may possible by no means be touched.
Orr was such an all-around hockey freak that he as soon as gained the Norris Trophy (greatest defenseman), Artwork Ross Trophy (most regular-season factors), Hart Trophy (regular-season MVP) and Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in a single season — one other feat that’s not more likely to ever be matched.
Years within the league: 2006-present
“Ovi” has confirmed his scoring may repeatedly, launching himself into the dialog of the NHL’s biggest aim scorers ever with loads of seasons left in his profession. He’s gained the Hart Trophy 3 times because the league’s MVP and eventually gained a Stanley Cup in 2018, placing to mattress one of many solely knocks towards him. His goals-per-game common is sixth greatest in NHL historical past and ranks forward of Wayne Gretzky’s. If he stays dominant by way of his 30s, he’s acquired an opportunity to cross “The Great One’s” goal-scoring report.
Getty Pictures | Ethan Miller
Years within the league: 1953-1975
Few hockey gamers have been as revolutionary or sensible as Jacques Plante. The six-time Stanley Cup winner was the primary goalie to repeatedly put on a masks, designing and making them himself within the early days. Apart from having the brains to guard his face from flying pucks, Plante was a critical pressure between the pipes. He ranks seventh all-time in wins and save proportion, in addition to fifth in shutouts. He additionally gained a document seven Vezina Trophies.
Years within the league: 1943-1960
“Rocket” was a hero to all hockey followers rising up in Quebec within the 1940s and 1950s. Maurice Richard gained eight Stanley Cups as a participant with the Montreal Canadiens, his personal hometown workforce. He was an innovator when it comes to offensive manufacturing, turning into the primary NHL participant to ever rating 50 objectives in a season and the primary to ever attain 500 profession objectives. In 2000, Richard’s funeral was handled like a nationwide day of mourning in Canada, and his was the primary state funeral ever given to a non-politician.
Years within the league: 1973-1992
One other Habs legend, Larry Robinson gained six Stanley Cups with the staff within the ’70s and ’80s. In 20 profession seasons, Robinson didn’t miss the playoffs a single time. However in the event you assume he simply received fortunate by being on good groups, assume once more. He ranks first all-time with a plus-minus of plus-722.
Years within the league: 1985-2003
Any argument concerning the biggest goalie in hockey historical past has to incorporate Patrick Roy. He ranks second all-time in wins and minutes amongst NHL goaltenders and he gained 4 Stanley Cups. His dominance within the playoffs made him the one NHL participant ever to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, as playoffs MVP, 3 times. In 2004, the writers of The Hockey Information named him the best goalie ever — and lots of will nonetheless agree with that.
Getty Photographs | Brian Bahr
Years within the league: 1989-2009
The captain of two Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche groups, Joe Sakic spent his complete NHL profession with that franchise, courting again to when it was referred to as the Quebec Nordiques. Sakic was a lethal shooter, tallying at the least 100 factors in six totally different seasons and at present standing at ninth all-time in factors scored.
Getty Pictures | Elsa
Years within the league: 1950-1970
One other identify that belongs within the dialog of biggest NHL netminders is Terry Sawchuk. He performed for 5 groups throughout his lengthy profession however is most remembered for serving to the Detroit Pink Wings safe three Stanley Cup victories within the 1950s. When Sawchuk retired in 1970, he held nearly all the main goaltending data however now sits as sixth in profession wins, second in shutouts and fourth in minutes. His profession shutouts document stood for 40 years earlier than lastly being damaged.
Years within the league: 1927-1940
Within the 1920s and 1930s, Eddie Shore confirmed individuals how brutal hockey could possibly be by defining the position of a defenseman. He gained 4 Hart Trophies throughout his profession, a document amongst defensemen that may doubtless by no means be touched, and he doubtless would have dominated Norris Trophy voting if his profession hadn’t predated the dignity. He gained two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins, the primary two within the franchise’s lengthy historical past.
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