The 20 Best Wingers In The History Of The NHL
Who are the 20 best wingers in NHL history?
It’s always tough to debate greatness when it’s stretched across the eras. Regardless of the sport, games change for the most part. Games are played differently now than they may have been 50 or so years ago. It makes comparing players across eras a very tough task indeed. But we’re going to try and do it.
When it comes to the NHL, there is obviously no shortage of greatness. In the short history of the league, there have been several world class players to have come and gone. In regard to the wing position, it’s a spot that is not as deep as center, defense, or even goaltending might be. Nonetheless, it’s a spot that has seen some of the greatest athletes in the history of this planet come and go.
Some are still going. This list of the top 20 wingers, which comes in no particular order for the most part, includes several active players that have either surpassed the age of 40 or are creeping up to it. And there are even more that weren’t included, with the likes of Ray Whitney falling into the “honorable mention” side of things.
This list features some of the game’s all-time greats. Some are Hall of Famers, some will be in there basically the day they retire. These are goal scorers, playmakers, and Stanley Cup winners. They’ve won Lady Byng’s, Conn Smythe’s, and Hart Trophies. Take a look at who we decided to be the 20 greatest wingers the National Hockey League has ever seen.
Who knows what could have come of Paul Kariya, had his career not been one that was shortened by concussions. The smooth skating winger finished his career with exactly a point per game, finishing with 989 points in 989 tilts. He’s one of only three players on this list to touch the point-per-game mark.
Not as flashy as some of his peers, Daniel Alfredsson doesn’t typically get the type of attention that the other greats that are still kicking do. But even at 40, he’s still playing at a high level for the Ottawa Senators. He doesn’t have the numbers that other players on this list might, but with over 1,100 points in his career, he’ll go down as the best in the history of the Sens organization.
The recently turned former face of the Calgary Flames already has a seat reserved for him at the Hall of Fame when he decides to call it a career. Always viewed as a classy veteran, few players have been as steady over a career as Iginla. Closing in on 1,100 points, one would imagine he still has a few years before he calls it quits.
The poster boy for “old time hockey”, Ciccarelli is known for his antics, both on and off the ice, than what he actually did with the puck on his stick. And he did a whole lot on the stat sheet over the course of his career. He finished with an even 1,200 points to go along with 1,425 penalty minutes during his time with five different clubs.
Keith Tkachuk really was the total package. He was a guy who could bang along the boards, but also put up some very impressive numbers. His 538 goals are 30th all-time among forwards, and are joined by his 2,219 career penalty minutes. Tkachuk’s 212 power play goals rank 12th all-time.
Playing his entire career with the New York Islanders, Bossy had a career filled with accolades. He won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie in 1978. He led the league in goals twice, scored at least 50 nine times, and won the Lady Byng three times. His crowning achievement, though, is his Conn Smythe Trophy in 1982. He was a key piece of that Islanders dynasty in the 80s.
Goulet was an extremely solid player for the Quebec Nordiques in the 1980's. He finished with over 1,100 points in his career, most of them coming in his time with the Nords. He scored at least 40 goals in seven consecutive seasons, including three years of at least 50.
Gartner played 19 seasons in the league, with five different clubs. He's one of the league's all-time leading scorers as far as forwards go, with 1,335 career points, a total which includes over 700 goals.
There’s no doubt that longevity certainly helped Andreychuk put up the numbers that he did. But let’s not discount them. They’re impressive. His 274 power play goals are the most all-time.
A two-time Lady Byng winner, the former captain of the Boston Bruins finished with well over 1,300 points in his career and a pair of Stanley Cups. He's the franchise's all-time leader in goals and second only to Ray Bourque in points in the history of the franchise.
You won’t find too many players who are as consistent over the course of a career as Mark Recchi was. A career that spanned over two decades and included ten different moves, including multiple stops in Philadelphia, Boston, and Pittsburgh, Recchi finished his career with over 1,500 points in 1,652 career games.
Kurri was a guy who put up very good numbers over the course of his career, even if he didn't take home the accolades for it. He did win five Stanley Cups and a Lady Byng, though. His career numbers include 1,398 points, including just over 600 goals.
Playing most of his career with the Montreal Canadiens, Lafleur had a storied career with the Habs. He won the Hart Trophy twice, the Conn Smythe once, and five Stanley Cups with the Habs. He's the club's all-time leading scorer, with over 1,200 points in his time in Montreal. He finished with 1,353 points for his career.
His inconsistency when it comes to handling the league’s discipline has overshadowed the fact that Brendan Shanahan was a Hall of Fame player. The NHL’s Minister of Justice may have suspended himself a couple of times during his career. A gritty forward, Shanahan knew how to put the puck in the net, ranking 13th all-time with 656 goals. His 1,354 points are only eclipsed by his nearly 2,500 penalty minutes.
The fact that Teemu Selanne continues to do what he’s doing at his age is truly incredible. While many expected him to retire after this year, the Finnish Flash has hinted at a possible return next season. Which means he could add to those career totals that already include 674 goals, which includes 251 on the power play and 755 assists.
A pure goal scorer, Brett Hull was one of the best ever at putting the puck in the back of the net. He never had a season, with the exception of his last when he played in only five games, where he notched less than 25 goals. He had three consecutive seasons of at least 70 goals, including an absurd 86 in 1990-91. His 741 career goals are third all-time.
Easily the best player in the history of the Los Angeles Kings, outside of that Gretzky guy, Robitaille was an extremely steady player over the course of his career, which spanned nearly 20 years. His first eight seasons featured at least 30 goals, and his 668 goals rank 12th all-time among forwards.
Even at his advanced age, he continues to be a factor in the NHL. He’s a veteran presence and still capable of putting quite a few points up on the stat sheet, even if he’s far from his dominant form of the 1990’s. Currently eighth on the all-time scoring list, Jagr has a chance to move up another spot or two before he calls it a career.
A player that really changed the game in his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Golden Jet still stands as one of the league’s all-time greats. Armed with a devistating shot, he finished his career with over 1,100 points and a plus-105.
They call him “Mr. Hockey” for a reason. The former Detroit Red Wing finished with 1,850 points in his career, which is good for third all-time and is no. 1 among wingers. His 801 goals are second only to Wayne Gretzky.
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