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Top 10 Best NHL Players of All Time

Ranking the greatest hockey players of all time as Wayne Gretzky leads the way

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By admin | July 4, 2023

Best Hockey Players of All Time

The list of absolute National Hockey League legends, and it is starting to look like some of these players may finally get bumped off. While some of these legendary players’ names have come off the cup, their contributions will never be forgotten, especially as one of these top ten players keeps playing. Here are the Top 10 NHL players of all time. 

Honorable Mention

Sidney Crosby 

Team(s): Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby is the youngest player on this list but is a worthy addition. Crosby was drafted first overall by the Penguins back in 2005 and has played with them ever since. He was able to lift the Cup in 2009 and then did so again in 2016 and 2017.

Crosby is so important to the Penguins, they put 18,187 seats in their new arena to honor him. Sidney Crosby has won at everything and anything that has been thrown his way. So far in 1,190 games, he has scored 550 goals, 952 assists for 1,502 points.

Accolades:
  • NHL All-Rookie Team (2006)
  • NHL All-Star Game (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2023)
  • Art Ross Trophy (2007, 2014)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (2007, 2014)
  • Ted Lindsay Award (2007, 2013, 2014)
  • Mark Messier Leadership Award (2007, 2010)
  • NHL first All-Star team (2007, 2013, 2014, 2016)
  • Stanley Cup champion (2009, 2016, 2017)
  • Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (2010, 2017)
  • NHL second All-Star team (2010, 2015, 2017, 2019)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (2016, 2017)
  • NHL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (2019)

Top 10 Best NHL Players of All-Time

10. Jaromir Jagr

Team(s): Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames

The most impressive part of Jaromir Jagr’s career is that it is still going. He is currently playing for the team he owns in the Chance Liga in the Czech Republic.

Jagr was drafted 5th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins all the way back in 1990 and went on to play for eight other NHL clubs. Jagr also won the KHL championship, during his break from the NHL. In 1,733 NHL games, Jagr had 766 goals, 1,155 assists for 1,921 points. He also won two Stanley Cup’s.

Accolades:
  • 2x Stanley Cup Champion (1991, 1992)
  • NHL All-Rookie Team (1991)
  • 13x NHL All-Star Game (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2016)
  • 5x Art Ross Trophy (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)
  • 7x NHL first All-Star team (1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006)
  • NHL second All-Star team (1997)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1999)
  • 3x Lester B. Pearson Award (1999, 2000, 2006)
  • Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (2016)

9. Guy Lafleur

Team(s): Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers

Guy Lafleur tragically passed away in 2022 after multiple illnesses and lung cancer. After his passing, he was given a national funeral in Montreal, Quebec, in honor for all he did for his country and sport.

Lafleur played for the Montreal Canadiens, Quebec Nordiques and New York Rangers from 1971 to 1991, with a three-year break.

He is best known for his six consecutive 50 goal seasons. Lafleur played 1,126 games in the NHL, scored 560 goals and 793 assists for 1,353 points. He was a time five Stanley Cup champion. 

Accolades:
  • 5× Stanley Cup champion (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979)
  • 3× Art Ross Trophy winner (1976, 1977, 1978)[74]
  • 2× Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1977, 1978)[74]
  • 3× Lester B. Pearson Award winner (1976, 1977, 1978)[74]
  • 6× First-Team All-Star Right Winger (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)[75]
  • Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1977)[74]

8. Bobby Hull

Team(s): Chicago Black Hawks, Winnipeg Jets

Bobby Hull also tragically passed away recently. He passed away on January 30th of 2023, 17 days after his 84th birthday. Hull is considered one of the greatest Black Hawks of all time, winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 1961.

He played for the Black Hawks from 1954, all the way up to 1972, where he went on to play for the Winnipeg Jets (of the WHA) and Hartford Whalers. In 1,063 NHL games, Hull scored 610 goals, 560 assists, and 1,170 points.

Accolades:
  • 3x Art Ross Trophy winner (1960, 1962, and 1966)
  • 10x NHL First All-Star Team (1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1972)
  • Stanley Cup champion (1961)
  • 2x NHL Second All-Star Team (1963 and 1971)
  • 2x Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1965 and 1966)
  • Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner (1965)
  • Lester Patrick Trophy winner (1969)
  • 2x NHL All-Star game MVP (1970, 1971)

7. Maurice Richard

Team(s): Montreal Canadiens

Joseph Henri Maurice “Rocket” Richard was one of the greatest goal scorers of his generation, and possibly of all time. His legacy lives on, as the trophy for the leading goal scorer in the NHL is named after him.

Richard spent 18 years in the NHL, playing his entire career with the Canadiens. Richard played 978 games in the NHL, scoring 544 goals, and an additional 422 assists for 966 goals. The Stanley Cup was no stranger to the Rocket, as he won the trophy eight times during his career. 

Accolades:
  • First team All-Star (1944–45, 1945–46, 1946–47, 1947–48, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1954–55, 1955–56)
  • Second Team All-Star (1943–44, 1950–51, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1956–57)
  • 8x Stanley Cup champion (1943–44, 1945–46, 1952–53, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60)
  • Hart Trophy
  • Most Valuable Player (1946–47)

6. Mark Messier

Team(s): Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks

In the years since his retirement, Mark Messier has become the go-to example for leadership, both on and off of the ice. So much so, the NHL enshrined a trophy in his honor to exemplify that trait he carried so well.

Messier had an interesting start to his pro career, playing two WHA seasons for the Racers and Stingers, before being drafted by the Oilers (a WHA fold in) 48th overall in 1979.

Messier would play 1,756 games in the NHL, scoring 694 goals, 1,193 assists for 1,887 points. He won the Stanley Cup five times with the Oilers and won it once with the Rangers.

Accolades:
  • NHL All-Star Game (1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004)
  • NHL First All-Star Team (1982, 1983, 1990, 1992)
  • Stanley Cup Champion (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (1984)
  • NHL Second All-Star Team (1984)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1990, 1992)
  • Lester B. Pearson Award (1990, 1992)

5. Jean Beliveau

Team(s): Montreal Canadiens

This list is loaded with Montreal Canadiens players, and Jean Beliveau was one of a kind. Jean played his entire NHL career with the Canadiens, all 17 of them.

He was the second player in NHL history to achieve 1,000 career points. Beliveau helped the Canadiens to 10 Stanley Cup victories.

During his parts of 17 seasons, he played 1,125 games, scored 507 goals alongside 712 assists, totaling 1,029 points.

Accolades:
  • 13x NHL All-Star Game (1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969)
  • 6x First Team All-Star (1954–55, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1960–61)
  • 4x Second Team All-Star (1957–58, 1963–64, 1965–66, 1968–69)
  • Art Ross Trophy (1955–56)
  • 2x Hart Memorial Trophy (1955–56, 1963–64)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (1964–65)
  • NHL Lifetime Achievement Award (2009)
  • 10x Stanley Cup winner (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971)

4. Mario Lemieux

Team(s): Pittsburgh Penguins

Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest centers of all time and is one of the few players to spend his entire career in one place.

Lemieux was drafted first overall by the Penguins in 1984 and spent his entire hockey career in Steel City. Lemieux won the Stanley Cup five times, twice as a player and three times as an owner.

He sold the majority of his share in the Pens to Fenway Sports last year, but he still has a piece. Mario played 916 games, scoring 690 goals and 1,033 assists for 1,723 points.

Accolades:
  • Hockey Hall of Fame (1997)
  • Stanley Cup (1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, 2017)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (1991, 1992)
  • Art Ross Trophy (1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997)
  • Ted Lindsay Award (1986, 1988, 1993, 1996)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1988, 1993, 1996)
  • NHL All-Star Game MVP (1985, 1988, 1990)
  • NHL All-Star Game (1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003)
  • NHL first All-Star team (1988, 1989, 1993, 1996, 1997)
  • NHL second All-Star team (1986, 1987, 1992, 2001)
  • NHL All-Rookie team (1985)
  • Calder Memorial Trophy 1985)
  • NHL Plus/Minus Award (1993)
  • Lester Patrick Trophy (2000)
  • Bill Masterton Trophy (1993)

3. Bobby Orr

Team(s): Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks

Bobby Orr is one of the most beloved Bruins players and honorary Bostonian’s there is. His time in the NHL wasn’t the longest, but the video of him flying through the air will live on forever.

Orr played junior for the Oshawa Generals before making his debut with the Boston Bruins, who started him at center.

He played for the Bruins from 1966 to 1976, before playing 26 games for the Black Hawks over two seasons. Orr played 657 NHL games, scored 270 goals, 645 assists for 915 points.

Accolades:
  • Calder Memorial Trophy (1967)
  • NHL Second All-Star team (1967)
  • NHL All-Star Game (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975)
  • NHL First All-Star team (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)
  • James Norris Trophy (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)
  • NHL Plus/Minus leader (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975)
  • Art Ross Trophy (1970 and 1975)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1970, 1971, 1972)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (1970 and 1972)
  • Stanley Cup champion (1970 and 1972)
  • Lou Marsh Trophy (1970)
  • NHL All-Star Game MVP (1972)

2. Gordie Howe

Team(s): Detroit Red Wings, Houston Aeros, Hartford Whalers

Gordie Howe was the greatest Red Wing to ever play the game. He played for the Wings from 1946 to 1971. Two years after his retirement, he decided to lace them back up with his sons in the WHA with the Houston Aeros, and then the Hartford Whalers.

He retired in 1998 after playing one game with the Detroit Vipers. Howe won the Stanley Cup four times, along with two Avco World Trophies. He played 1,767 games, scored 801 goals, and had 1,049 assists for 1,850 points.

Accolades:
  • Art Ross Trophy (1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1963)
  • Goal scoring leader (1951, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1963)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963)
  • NHL All-Star Game (1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958,
  • 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1980)
  • NHL First All-Star Team (1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970)
  • NHL Second All-Star Team (1949, 1950, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967)
  • Stanley Cup (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

1. Wayne Gretzky

Team(s): Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers

Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time, and it doesn’t look like he will be dethroned anytime soon.

Gretzky was able to win the Stanley Cup four times, all with the Edmonton Oilers, a feat he could not replicate anywhere else he played. Gretzky played 1,487 games in the NHL, scoring 894 goals, 1963 assists and 2,857 points.

Accolades:
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1980–87, 1989)
  • Art Ross Trophy (1981–87, 1990, 1991, 1994)
  • Charlie Conacher Humanitarian Award (1980)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (1985, 1988)
  • Lester B. Pearson Award (1982–85, 1987)
  • Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1980, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1999)
  • NHL Plus-Minus Award (1984, 1985, 1987)
  • Stanley Cup (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988)
  • NHL All-Star Game MVP (1983, 1989, 1999)
  • NHL MVP (1987)
  • New York Rangers MVP (1997-98)
  • 8x Time All-NHL first team (1981–87, 1991)
  • 7x Time All-NHL second team (1980, 1988–90, 1994, 1997, 1998)

How would you rank the greatest NHL players of All Time? Rank below to be added in the NHL Power Rankings 

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