In today’s NHL, speed dominates. No longer can teams roster slow, hulking defensemen capable of obstructing opponents into submission. But, if a player has speed and size, they can be lethal.
According to Hockey-Graphs, the average NHLer stands six-foot-one and weighs 201 pounds (as of the 2014-15 season). When compared to the average NHL player of the 1944-45 season – five-foot-ten, 174 pounds – it appears that NHL teams have been giving their players the Captain America Super-Soldier Serum.
Today, imposing players like Alex Ovechkin, Brent Burns, and Evgeni Malkin prevail. They are not the largest NHL players, though. Let’s take a look at the seven of the biggest players in the NHL today based on body mass index (BMI).
Zdeno Chara (26.8)
Weight: 250 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 75 GP – 10 G – 19 A – 29 PTS
It’s no surprise that gigantic Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara appears on this list – he’s the tallest NHL player in the game. Standing at six-foot-nine, Chara is an imposing figure for forwards entering the Bruins’ zone, even at 40 years old.
Before Burns became the NHL’s version of Chewbacca, Chara did a great impression of the massive wookie’s cry when lifting the Stanley Cup for the first time back in 2011:
Jamie Oleksiak (28.7)
Weight: 255 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 41 GP – 5 G – 2 A – 7 PTS
Out in Dallas, Jamie Oleksiak patrols the blue line for the Stars. “Patrols" is the key word here, as Oleksiak towers over most forwards. You may recognize his last name as well – Oleksiak’s sister, Penny, competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and brought home a silver and two bronze medals for Canada.
Robin Lehner (29.1)
Weight: 239 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 59 GP – 23 W – 26 L – 8 OTL – 2.68 GAA – .920 SV%
Buffalo’s goalie resembles the Michelin Man with his gear strapped on. Robin Lehner also brings back memories of an old Amstel Light ad featuring a hefty goalie.
In all fairness, Lehner is not a fat goalie like the netminder from the commercial but he is the largest in the NHL in terms of BMI. Fellow Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson is one of the tallest in the league (6’6″) as well.
Chris Stewart (29.1)
Weight: 239 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 79 GP – 13 G – 8 A – 21 PTS
At the same size as Lehner, Chris Stewart is the strong man of the Minnesota Wild forward bunch. This season, Stewart led the Wild in penalty minutes (94 PIM) by a sizable margin – Matthew Dumba is second with only 59 PIM.
Alex Ovechkin (29.9)
Weight: 239 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 82 GP – 33 G – 36 A – 69 PTS
A true power forward, Alex Ovechkin has taken the NHL by storm since first appearing as a 20-year-old in 2005. With six Maurice “Rocket" Richard trophies to his name, Ovechkin has already topped 500 goals and 1,000 points in his career. Despite qualifying as “overweight" on the BMI scale, the Russian forward is among the best and biggest players in the NHL today.
Nikita Tryamkin (29.9)
Weight: 265 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 66 GP – 2 G – 7 A – 9 PTS
When Nikita Tryamkin arrived at Vancouver Canucks training camp this past fall, the organization was not pleased with his fitness level. So much so that the team benched him until he reached the appropriate game shape.
After the controversy, Tryamkin settled in nicely with the Canucks. The former 2014 third-round pick found a home on the Canucks’ third defensive pairing.
Dustin Byfuglien (30.8)
Weight: 260 lbs
2016-17 Stats: 80 GP – 13 G – 39 A – 52 PTS
After being the only large player to qualify as “obese" on the BMI scale, Dustin Byfuglien is officially the biggest player in the NHL. “Big Buff" gained notoriety around the NHL as an immovable force when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks and helped lead his team to the 2009-10 Stanley Cup.
Now in Winnipeg, Byfuglien is a fan-favorite for his thunderous hits and slap shots from the point. Byfuglien can skate as well – he frequently joins the rush up ice and contributes to the offensive game.
Stats provided by NHL.com.