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 Zdeno Chara, 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), which surprisingly doesn’t include Chara, Boston’s resident goliath.
Brian Boyle (28.3)
Weight: 245 pounds
The 2017-18 NHL All-Star is known for his large frame and big personality – the latter of which was recognized by fans in Tampa Bay when the former Lightning center returned for the skills competition and All-Star Game. Boyle combined his size with speed to be a versatile forward for the Florida Panthers, where he played on the penalty kill and sometimes in front of the net on the power play.
Jamie Oleksiak (28.7)
Weight: 255 pounds
Back 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 (29.2)
Weight: 240 pounds
The Vegas Golden Knights 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. However, Lehner is able to move around the crease swiftly, going against the stereotype that “big goalies can’t move.”
Nick Ritchie (29.5)
Weight: 230 pounds
While he’s only 6-foot-2, Nick Ritchie checks in as the fourth-largest NHLer based on BMI. The Boston Bruins forward certainly uses his size to his advantage, even if it comes at a cost.
A former first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, Ritchie was acquired by the Bruins to add more physicality to their lineup. Only 24, the massive forward could remain on this list for years to come.
Alex Ovechkin (29.4)
Weight: 235 pounds
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 600 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.
Pat Maroon (29.5)
Weight: 236 pounds
Known as “Big Rig” around the rink, Pat Maroon has long used his size to his advantage. After winning the Stanley Cup with his hometown St. Louis Blues, Maroon signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning for another shot at the Cup. Under Jon Cooper’s watch, the forward has become a nuisance in front of the net, often using his large frame to box out defensemen and screen goalies.
Make no mistake, Maroon is nimble despite his size and has soft hands on the ice and around the spikeball net.
Chris Stewart (31.1)
Weight: 242 pounds
At one point, Chris Stewart was featured prominently on this list as a member of the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames. But after skating for the Nottingham Panthers of the EIHL, he was removed from consideration. After all, we’re talking about the biggest NHLers.
But now that Stewart is back in the big leagues with the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s once again the heavyweight champion of the NHL. Stewart’s 31.1 BMI ranks first overall among NHL players. In fact, he’s the only player with a BMI above 30.
Stats provided by NHL.com.