Top 15 NHL Players of All-Time

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Top 15 NHL Players of All-Time

Top 15 NHL Players of All-Time
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL produces many talented individuals. Some do better than anyone could ever imagine while others have a difficult time performing at such a high level. In this slideshow I'll be taking a look at the top 15 NHL players of all-time based on how much of an impact they are having or had on their team and how well they fared statistically during their time in this league. I also plan to take into account whether the player's won a Stanley Cup or, at the very least, played a large role in their team advancing far in the playoffs.

From the legendary Gordie Howe to two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Steven Stamkos, each of these players did or is doing better than they, or their teams, could have ever dreamed. You'll find those who haven't been in the NHL for long, yet have already begun to make a name for themself, along with those who've already retired and been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are even those who battled through health issues and injuries throughout their career, making others overlook them at times, yet they continued to produce at a relatively high level.

Since the NHL boasts a lot of quality players some you like may not have made the cut. However, I feel as if I made the best selections possible given the criteria used and the fact I could only choose 15. Things could change in the next few years, either through injuries or trades, therefore some could be replaced. Truly you never know what might happen. Regardless, I hope you enjoy!

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Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Gretzky made a name for himself by scoring goals and racking up the points during his 20 year NHL career. This is quite evident as Gretzky tallied 894 goals and 2,857 points in just under 1,500 regular season games. Furthermore, he did that while playing for four different teams during his career--the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. Gretzky also produced 122 goals and 382 points in 208 playoff games, mainly with the Oilers and Kings. Gretzky was a 9-time Hart Trophy and 10-time Art Ross Trophy winner as well, many of those coming during his peak years of the 1980s. He even captured the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the NHL's playoff MVP, twice as a member of the Oilers. (Source: Hockeydb.com) Another thing Gretzky did was lead the Oilers to four Stanley Cup championships. He also helped lead the Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. (Source: Wikipedia) For these reasons, along with many others, Gretzky is one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Orr made a name for himself by scoring goals and racking up points while continually playing outstanding defense during his 12 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in his eight consecutive Norris Trophies, given to the best defenseman, and three consecutive Hart Trophies as a member of the Boston Bruins. Orr twice won the Conn Smythe Trophy and led the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Finals, winning two, in the 1970s as well. Moreover, he's the only defenseman to have ever won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. He was also awarded the Calder Trophy, given to the Top Rookie, in 1966-67'. (Source: Wikipedia) As for statistics, Orr tallied 270 goals and 915 points in just over 650 regular season games. In the playoffs he produced 26 goals and 92 points in 74 games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Orr's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Roy made a name for himself by stopping other teams from scoring during his 19 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in his five William M. Jennings Trophies, given to the goaltender who allowed the fewest goals against in 25+ games played, and three Vezina Trophies as a member of the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. Roy won the Conn Smythe Trophy three times, twice with the Canadiens, and led both the Canadiens and Avalanche to two Stanley Cup victories each. Furthermore, he became the youngest Conn Smythe winner ever at the young age of 20. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Roy posted career numbers with a 2.54 GAA and .910 save percentage in just over 1,000 career regular season games. In the playoffs he produced an 2.30 GAA and .918 save percentage in 247 career games. (Source: NHL) For these reasons, among others, Roy's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Yzerman made a name for himself by scoring goals and racking up points while playing solid defense during his 22 year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. This is no more evident than in his 1999-00' Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward. Yzerman also won the 1997-98' Conn Smythe Trophy and led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup championships, two of those back-to-back, in 1997, 1998 and 2002. He finished second in Calder Trophy voting during his rookie season as well. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Yzerman tallied 692 goals and 1,755 points in just over 1,500 career regular season games. In the playoffs he produced 70 goals and 185 points in 196 games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Yzerman's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mario Lemieux made a name for himself by performing at an extremely high level despite dealing with numerous health issues during his 17 year NHL career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is no more evident than in the six Art Ross and three Hart trophies he won. Lemieux twice won the Conn Smythe Trophy and led the Penguins to two back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992 as well. He was also awarded the 1984-85' Calder Trophy given to the top rookie. Lemieux didn't have things easy though as many health problems threatened to derail his career. He battled through a spinal disc herniation, chronic back pain and Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer. With his radiation treatments slowly sapping him of energy, Lemieux announced he'd take a leave of absence after the 1993-94' season. When he returned for the 1995-96' season he picked up where he'd left off by scoring his 500th career goal in 605 career games, second only to Wayne Gretzky who reached that milestone in 575 career games. However, Lemieux decided to retire after the 1996-97' season. In November of that year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In late 2000 Lemieux completed his comeback to the NHL, a comeback that lasted until the 2005-06' season when a heart condition forced him to hang up his skates for good. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Lemieux tallied 690 goals and 1,723 points in just 915 career regular season games. In the playoffs he produced 76 goals and 172 points in only 107 career games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Lemieux is one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe
Luc Leclerc-USA TODAY Sports

Gordie Howe made a name for himself by scoring goals and racking up points in an era where defense was most prominent during his 26 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in his six Art Ross and six Hart trophies, all as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Howe also led the Red Wings to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955. He also spent one season, 1979-80', with the NHL's Hartford Whalers. Referred to as "Mr. Hockey", Howe had 22 consecutive seasons of 20+ goals and was the only player to play in five different decades from the 1940's through the 1980's. The term "Gordie Howe Hat Trick", consisting of a goal, assist and fight in one game, came about because of his penchant for fighting. Oddly enough, Howe himself only had two of those throughout his career. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Howe tallied 801 goals and 1,850 points in 1,767 career regular season games. During the playoffs he produced 68 goals and 160 points in just 157 career games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, Howe is one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Ken Dryden

Ken Dryden
Watch Mojo-Flickr

Ken Dryden made a name for himself by stopping other teams from scoring during his eight year NHL career. This is no more evident than in the five Vezina trophies, given to the best goaltender, and six Stanley Cups he won as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Dryden also won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in 1971. Oddly enough he was ineligible to win the 1971 Calder Trophy, given to the top rookie, because he only played six regular season games. Dryden instead won the Calder in 1972, making him the only player to win the Conn Smythe before the Calder trophy. Moreover, four of his six Stanley Cups came in consecutive years--1976, 77, 78 and 79. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Dryden never posted a GAA higher than 2.69 in just under 400 career regular season games. In the playoffs he produced a GAA that never surpassed 3.00 in 112 career games. (Source: NHL) For these reasons, among others, Dryden's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Ray Bourque

Ray Bourque
Matt Morgan-Flickr

Ray Bourque made a name for himself by racking up points while continually playing solid defense during his 23 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in the five James Norris trophies, given to the top defenseman, he won as a member of the Boston Bruins. Bourque also took home the 1979-80' Calder Trophy, given to the top rookie, and led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup finals in 1988 and 1990. However, he finished a close second to Mark Messier when it came to the 1990 Hart Trophy voting. In March of 2000 Bourque, along with teammate Dave Andreychuk, were traded to the Colorado Avalanche. It was with the Avalanche that Bourque finally won his first and only Stanley Cup in 2001. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Bourque tallied 410 goals and 1,579 points in 1,612 career regular season games. During the playoffs he produced 41 goals and 180 points in 214 career games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Bourque's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Joe Sakic

Joe Sakic
Allie from Vancity-Flickr

Joe Sakic made a name for himself by scoring goals at an incredible pace during his 20 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in the Hart Trophy, given to the league MVP, and Lester B. Pearson award he won as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He also won the 1996 Conn Smythe trophy, given to the playoff MVP, and captained the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup victories in 1996 and 2001. Seeing as Sakic won the Hart in 2001, he became one of four players to win that trophy and captain his team to the Stanley Cup. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Sakic tallied 625 goals and 1,641 points in 1,378 career regular season games. During the playoffs he produced 84 goals and 188 points in 172 career games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Sakic's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Chris Chelios

Chris Chelios
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Chelios made a name for himself by playing outstanding defense throughout his 26 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in the three James Norris trophies, given to the top defenseman, he won as a member of the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks. Chelios spent time with the Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers as well. He also won three Stanley Cups, two as a member of the Red Wings, during his time in the league. Chelios holds the record for most NHL games played by a defenseman and is tied with Gordie Howe for most NHL seasons played as well. Moreover, he became the oldest player ever to win a Cup after capturing the 2008 one with the Red Wings. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Chelios tallied 185 goals and 948 points in 1,651 career regular season games. During the playoffs he produced 31 goals and 144 points in 266 career games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Chelios is one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Bobby Hull

Bobby Hull
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Hull made a name for himself by scoring goals, many due to his wicked slapshot, throughout his 17 year NHL career. This is no more evident than in his three Art Ross and two Hart trophies, all as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Hull also led the Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup. He then went on to play in the WHA before coming out of retirement because of financial reasons, playing in 27 games for the Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers. Hull scored 50+ goals five times during his career as well. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Hull tallied 610 goals and 1,170 points in 1,063 career regular season games. During the playoffs he produced 62 goals and 129 points in 119 career games. For these reasons, among others, Hull is one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Maurice Richard

Maurice Richard
Kayla-Flickr

Maurice Richard, nicknamed the Rocket, made a name for himself by scoring goals at an unprecedented rate during his 18 year NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens. This is no more evident than in his 1947 Hart Trophy, given to the league MVP. Richard was also the first player to score 50 goals in one season, doing so in only 50 games, and led the league in goal-scoring five times. He helped lead the Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups in 1944, 46', 53', 56', 57', 58', 59' and 60' as well. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Richard tallied 544 goals and 965 points in 978 career regular season games. During the playoffs he produced 82 goals and 126 points in 133 career games. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Richard's one of the best to ever play in the NHL!

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Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr
Christopher Szagola-USA TODAY Sports

Jaromir Jagr made a name for himself by putting up points at an unheard of rate during his 18 year NHL career thus far. This is no more evident than in the five Art Ross trophies, given to the leading scorer, and two consecutive Stanley Cups he won in 1991 and 1992 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr won the 1998-99' Hart Trophy with the Penguins as well. He also has spent periods of time overseas, along with years playing for the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. This past offseason Jagr signed a contract to play with the Dallas Stars. However, that won't happen until the current NHL Lockout is solved. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Jagr has tallied 665 goals and 1,653 points in just 1,346 regular season games to this point. During the playoffs he's produced 78 goals and 189 points in 180 games thus far. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, Jagr is right now considered one of the best to play in the NHL and he still has time to prove himself even more!

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Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Nicknamed "The Next One" as one of the most highly regarded draft picks in history, Sidney Crosby made a name for himself by living up to the hype during his seven year NHL career thus far. This is evidenced in his 2006-07' Art Ross and Hart trophies, given to the league's leading scorer and MVP. The Art Ross trophy made Crosby the youngest player and only teenager to win the league scoring title. He shared the 2009-10' Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy with Steven Stamkos as well. In 2009, Crosby became the youngest NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup as his Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings. Unfortunately, he's dealt with some injury issues in the form of concussion symptoms following two separate hits to the head midway through the 2010-11' season. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Crosby has tallied 223 goals and 609 points in only 434 regular season games to this point. During the playoffs he's produced 33 goals and 90 points in just 68 games thus far. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, I believe Crosby's right now one of the best to play in the NHL. Furthermore, I feel he has plenty of time left to prove himself!

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Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Known as an elite goal-scorer, Steven Stamkos has been carving a name for himself during much of his four year NHL career with the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is evidenced in the two Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophies won and numerous records he's set. Some records Stamkos has set or broken include becoming the third youngest player to score 50 goals in a season and scoring the most overtime goals in a single season with five during the 2011-12' season. In March 2012, Stamkos became just the sixth player to record more than one 50 goal season before turning 23. Also, in April 2012 he became the 20th player in history and first since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08' to score 60 or more goals in a season. Stamkos helped lead the Lightning to the 2011-12' Eastern Conference Finals as well, losing by one goal to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. However, Stamkos showed his toughness during that final game by taking a Johnny Boychuk slapshot to the nose and missing only a few shifts before returning with a bloody nose and full shield. (Source: Wikipedia) Statistically, Stamkos has tallied 179 goals and 329 points in 325 regular season games to this point. During the playoffs he's produced six goals and 13 points in only 18 games thus far. (Source: Hockeydb.com) For these reasons, among others, I believe Stamkos is right now one of the best to play in the NHL. Furthermore, I feel he has plenty of time left to prove himself!

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Around the Web

  • Captngeetch

    How is the All-Time second leading scorer in NHL History NOT on this list ???
    Gimme a break, putting Crosby On an All-Time list and omitting Mark Messier is
    A joke. While Crosby might be a great player, he needs at least 10 years in this league
    To take the place of Mark Messier on a list of this type. The man surpassed Gordie Howe for Christ sake, is in HOF. I can name 10 players who should be named before Crosby.

  • Kenneth Walker

    I know a lot of Canadians fans that would have preferred Parent over Dryden. They think they would have owned the cup for ten years with Parent in goal.

  • 69ersfootball

    Leaving off Nicholas Lydstrom is a crime.