Inside the Hockey Hall of Fame, there’s a large room–a sanctuary–that honors hockey’s most notable players, athletes, builders and broadcasters. In addition to the Stanley Cup, there are custom-built trophy showcases filled with the Vezina, Hart, Art Ross and Calder Trophies. And, of course, there are portraits and biographical sketches of each inducted member.
There are so many great players, but if each team could only elect one person in their history, who would that be? In other words, who is the all-time best player for each team in the NHL? This article takes that question to heart–or Hart.
Related: Top 10 Dirtiest NHL Players
Latest News & Highlights
All positions–forwards, defensemen and goaltenders–were open for consideration. In some instances, selecting the best player came down to league hardware collected, intangibles and choosing between either longevity or peak performance. The only rule–a player can only be counted for one team. For example, Wayne Gretzky if chosen for the Edmonton Oilers, cannot be considered for the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues or the New York Rangers.
Teemu Selanne, Right Wing
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.
Though drafted tenth overall in 1988 by the Winnipeg Jets, Selanne is synonymous with the Ducks. He played three seasons in Manitoba before being flipped at the trade deadline in 1996. Known as “The Finnish Flash,” Selanne is one of the greatest players in NHL history.
After a Calder-winning rookie season with 76 goals in Winnipeg, Selanne went on to score 684 goals including two 50-goal seasons for his career. During the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons, he scored more than any other player in the league.
Selanne, a 2007 Stanley Cup winner with the Ducks, is also a 10-time All-Star, and winner of the Calder, Maurice Richard and Bill Masterton Memorial Trophies. All-time in the NHL, he ranks 27th in career games played (1,451), 11th in goals (684), tied for 38th in assists (773) and 15th in points (1,457).
Shane Doan, Right Wing
Doan was a seventh overall selection in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets. He spent his entire 21-season professional career with the Jets/Coyotes franchise. From 2003 to 2011, the winger led the team in scoring and was the longest-serving NHL captain until his retirement in 2017. Fittingly, his No. 19 was retired by the Coyotes before a game in which they hosted the Jets.
The two-time NHL All-Star won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2009-10. Tallying up his numbers, Doan ranks tied for 15th in career games played (1,540) played, tied for 94th in goals (402), tied for 103rd in assists (570) and 92nd in points (972). While his stats aren’t overly impressive, Doan was a steadying stalwart on a team that depended on his leadership.
Bobby Orr, Defense
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.
Orr revolutionized the blue line position with a mix of speed, scoring and playmaking. He played 12 seasons in the NHL, all but two of them for the Boston Bruins.
In both of his Stanley Cup Championships, Orr scored the game-clinching goal and was named the playoff MVP. He’s a nine-time All-Star, eight-time (consecutive) Norris winner, three-time Hart winner, two-time Smythe winner and is the only defenseman to win the Art Ross twice. He also won the Calder Trophy in 1966-17 season and the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1974-75. He holds the record for most points (139) and assists (102) in a single season by a defenseman.
In his NHL career, Orr played in 657 games, scoring 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points.
Dominik Hasek, Goaltender
Inducted into the Hall of Fame 2014.
Gilbert Perreault was the first-ever draft selection of the Buffalo Sabres and his NHL career spanned 17 seasons–all of them in blue and gold. He was the face of the franchise, a Calder and Lady Byng winner, and was one of the game’s most electrifying and dynamic rushers.
The graceful-skating nine-time NHL All-Star formed The French Connection with Rick Martin and Rene Robert and led his team to 11 consecutive playoff appearances. Years after retiring, he still dominates almost every offensive statistical category for the Sabres. In league history, he ranks tied for 116th in career games played (1,191), 41st in goals (512), tied for 28th in assists (814) and 33rd in points (1,326). He was the quintessential Sabre and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.
That said, Dominik Hasek and his unorthodox but successful style was arguably the best goalie in NHL history. During the 1998-99 season, “The Dominator” put the team on his back and carried the Sabres all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
In eight full seasons with the Sabres, he won the Vezina a staggering six times, the Hart and Jennings Trophies twice and the Lester B. Person Award twice. He was the first goaltender to win the Hart multiple times. He was all-worldly–no one was better at his position in the game. He is the only goalie to face the most shots per 60 minutes and have the highest save percentage in one season, doing it in both 1996 and 1998 while with the Sabres.
Related: Top 10 Best Undrafted NHL Goalies
Of all goalies who have played more than 250 games, Hasek holds the highest career save percentage of all time (.922) and is first in the modern era in goals against average (2.20).
Jarome Iginla, Right Wing
The Flames have had some really good players including Kent Nilsson, Joe Mullen, Theo Fleury and Joe Nieuwendyk. However, their best was Jarome Iginla.
Iginla was selected in eleventh overall by the Dallas Stars at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. The two-time 50-goal scorer is the Flames’ all-time leader in goals, points and games played and is one of only seven players in the NHL to score 30 or more goals in 11 consecutive seasons.
Born in Edmonton, the four-time All Star and two-time Maurice Richard winner, also won the Clancy, Lester B. Pearson Award and Art Ross Trophies. In 2003-04, the six-time NHL All-Star captained the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final. He was also recognized with the Mark Messier Leadership Award for his community work and charitable work.
The power forward, born in Edmonton, Alberta spent 16 years playing for the Flames. All-time in the NHL, he ranks tied for 13th in career games played (1,554), tied for 16th in goals (625), tied for 62nd in assists (675) and 34th in points (1,300).
Eric Staal, Center
Staal was chosen by the Hurricanes with the second overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. The Thunder Bay, Ontario, native is one of just a few active players on this list and now plays for the Minnesota Wild. He played his first 12 seasons with the Hurricanes, helping the franchise win its first-ever Stanley Cup in 2006.
Starting with his rookie year in 2003-04, Staal played in 690 of the Hurricanes’ 704 regular season games, becoming the epitome of durability.
In 1,125 games, he has 407 goals and 537 assists for 944 points.
Stan Mikita, Center/Right Wing
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
While Bobby Hull holds the Blackhawks record for most goals, Mikita gets the nod for being their best player. Statues of both franchise players, who gained notoriety for being among the first to use sticks with curved blades, were installed outside the United Center in 2011.
Known as “Stosh,” Mikita was generally regarded as the best centerman of 1960s. In his first few seasons Mikita was among the most penalized players in the NHL. He then drastically cleaned up his game and limited his penalties after he returned from a road trip and found out his daughter questioned why he spent to much time sitting down. He had been serving a ten-minute misconduct in the penalty box.
In addition to winning the Stanley Cup in 1961, he won the Lester Patrick Trophy, is a two-time Hart Trophy winner, a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner, and a four-time Art Ross Trophy winner. The eight-time All Star is the only player in NHL history to win the Hart, Ross, and Lady Byng trophies in the same season, doing so in consecutive seasons, in 1966–67 and 1967–68.
After a game in 1967 in which an errant shot tore a piece off one of his ears, Mikita was one of the first players to wear a helmet regularly. He was able to have the piece of his ear stitched back on.
League-wide, Mikita ranks 40th all-time in games played (1,396), 32nd in goals (541), 18th in assists (926) and 14th in points (1,467).
Joe Sakic, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Quebec Nordiques selected Joe Sakic with the fifteenth pick in the 1987 Draft. He played his entire 21-year career with the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise and holds just about every Avalanche record for offense output–including most goals, assists, points, power play goals, and shorthanded goals. His wrist shot was a weapon, helping him hit the 50-goal mark twice and rack up 100 points six times.
Sakic was a great captain and made everyone around him a better player. He was named to play in 13 All-Star Games and is a two-time Stanley Cup winner (1996 and 2001), three-time All Star, and winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award, Lady Byng, Hart, and Conn Smyth Trophies. League-wide, Sakic ranks tied for 45th in career games played (1,378), tied for 16th in goals (625), 13th in assists (1,016) and 9th in points (1,641).
Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky, Goaltender
The Philadelphia Flyers signed Sergei “Bob” Bobrovsky in May 2010. The undrafted Russian netminder played 83 games over two seasons before being traded to the Blue Jackets.
Since then, he’s been part of the franchise’s foundation, holding nearly every statistical record for the team’s netminders, including most wins, best goals-against average, and most shutouts. He’s a two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2013 and 2017) and a two-time All Star.
Mike Modano, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
Notable Dallas Star players include Sergei Zubov, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Mike Modano gets the honor of being their best all-time player.
The Minnesota North Stars selected Modano with the first overall pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. He played nearly his entire 21-year career for the organization, becoming the face of the franchise. When the move sent them to Dallas, Modano was influential in popularizing the game of hockey in Texas.
Modano holds the record for most points scored by a U.S. born player (1,374). He helped the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999, playing all six games of the Final against the Buffalo Sabres despite having a broken bone in his wrist that was sustained in the second game of the series. Though he never won an individual award, he was a finalist for the Selke and Lady Byng Trophies. His was a true leader.
In league history, Modano ranks 20th in career games played (1,499), 25th in goals (561), tied for 30th in assists (813) and 24th in points (1,374).
Detroit Red Wings
Nicklas Lidstrom, Defense
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
The Red Wings have had a number of sport-defining players in their history. Among them, Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk and Pavel Datsyuk. Howe played a physical, and some would say, dirty game that spanned five decades. He owns several franchise records including games played and goals and points scored. He was the NHL points leader until Wayne Gretzky came along. However, Nick Lidstrom was clearly the Red Wings best player ever.
Lidstrom was drafted 53rd overall by the Red Wings in 1989 and quickly became a cornerstone of the team and a key to much of their success.
His list of accomplishments include four Stanley Cups, a dozen NHL All-Star games, a remarkable seven Norris Trophies, the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy and a 1992 NHL All-Rookie selection.
In addition to that, he was the first European to captain a team to a Stanley Cup, the first European-born defenseman to reach 1,000 points, the first European-born Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and the first European-born Norris Trophy winner. Lidstrom was one of the best players ever to play the game, let alone play for the Red Wings.
Among all defensemen in NHL history, he ranks fifth in career games played (1,564), eighth in goals (264), tied for 6th in assists (878) and 6th in points (1,142).
Wayne Gretzky, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.
Gretzky is arguably the best player to ever play lace up skates. He’s a 15-time NHL All Star, four-time Stanley Cup winner, 10-time Art Ross winner, nine-time Hart winner, five-time Lady Byng winner, five-time Lester B. Pearson winner, and two-time Conn Smythe winner.
“The Great One” had an instinctual way of anticipating where the puck was going to be and found a way to be there at the right time. He loved to set up behind his opponent’s net — an area that became known as his “office” — to confound defensemen and frustrate goalies.
Gretzky played 20 years in the NHL and is the only player to total over 200 points in one season — a feat he accomplished a remarkable four times. He tallied over 100 points in 16 professional seasons. He ranks tied for 22nd in career games played (1,487) played, first in goals (894), first in assists (1,963) and first in points (2,857). He has more assists than any other player has in total points.
At the time of his retirement in 1999, the Brantford, Ontario superstar held a whopping 61 NHL records. His No. 99 has been retired league-wide, the only player to ever receive such an honor.
Pavel Bure, Right Wing
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
While Roberto Luongo, still minding the cage at the age of 39, has played 11 seasons with the Panthers and is often thought of as the face of the franchise, the nod here goes to Bure.
Bure, known as “The Russian Rocket” for his speed, was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1989 with the 113th pick.
He was an overwhelming force in the 223 games he played for the Panthers, scoring 152 goals and 251 points. From 1999 to 2001, he tallied 117 goals (including 80 at even strength) and 69 assists for 186 points in 156 games. He was the Panthers’ offense–scoring 26 percent of the team’s goals and getting a point on 42 percent of every goal the Cats netted. He took home the Maurice Richard Trophy both years.
What he may lack in years of service to the Panthers, he more than made up for in elite-level performance.
Los Angeles Kings
Marcel Dionne, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Dionne, all of 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, was chosen by the Detroit Red Wings with the second overall pick of the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. In his first season with the Wings, he set the NHL record for scoring by a rookie with 77 points. After four years, he was traded to the Kings and became their franchise player.
Dionne centered the famous “Triple Crown Line” with wingers Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor. In the 1979-80 season he tallied 137 points, tying Wayne Gretzky for tops in the league and won the Art Ross Trophy that year, besting The Great One by two goals.
Dionne was a four-time All Star, two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award. He is third in the NHL for most 100+ point seasons (eight). He played 18 years in the NHL and ranks 52nd in career games played (1,348) played, fifth in goals (731), 10th in assists (1,040) and sixth in points (1,771).
Marian Gaborik, Right Wing
While Mikko Koivu has longevity with the Wild, Gaborik was the team’s best player. The Wild selected him with the third overall pick in the 2000 Entry Draft.
Over his career, Gaborik was a seven-time 30-goal scorer (five of those seasons with the Wild). He’s the Wild’s all-time leading scorer in goals and is the franchise’s only player to record five goals in one game (against the Rangers on Dec. 20, 2007). He is the team leader in the most power play goals (59), most game-winning goals (43), most hat tricks (9) and highest point-per-game average (.87).
His final stat line reads: 1,035 games, 407 goals and 408 assists for 815 points.
Jean Beliveau, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
With such a rich and storied franchise like the Canadiens, choosing one player as its best is a tough task. It meant sifting through incredible iconic players like Maurice Richard, Henri Richard, Guy Lafleur, Patrick Roy, Jacques Plante, and Ken Dryden. Careful consideration dictates the selection must be Beliveau.
Beliveau, known as “Le Gros Bill,” won a remarkable ten Stanley Cups with the Habs and another seven as an executive. He was a ten-time All Star, two-time Hart Trophy winner, Art Ross winner and the inaugural winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
When Beliveau retired after the 1970-71 season, he was the Canadiens’ all-time leader in points, second all-time in goals and the NHL’s all-time leading playoff scorer. He lit the lamp 507 times and had 712 helpers for 1,219 points in 1,125 NHL regular-season games. He was a high performer in the playoffs, too, collecting 79 goals and 97 assists for 176 points in 162 playoff games. He’s the second all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history, behind only Guy Lafleur. He’s third in games played for the Habs, behind only Henri Richard and Larry Robinson.
Pekka Rinne, Goaltender
Rinne, selected by the Predators in the eighth round in 2004, has been with the organization his entire career. He’s one of only a few players on this list that are still active today.
Rinne is the Predators’ franchise leader in wins and shutouts and holds the record for the most NHL wins by a goalie born in Finland.
The 6-foot-5 goalie took over the Predators’ crease in 2008 and hasn’t let go. Using a popular butterfly style, he’s played nearly 600 games during his 13-year NHL career. The two-time All-Star was a Vezina finalist as the League’s top goaltender in 2011, 2012, and 2015 before finally capturing the award in the 2018 season with a sparkling 2.31 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. He finished fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy in 2011.
New Jersey Devils
Martin Brodeur, Goaltender
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.
Brodeur was taken with the 20th pick in the 1990 NHL Draft by the Devils. He played all but one season of his 22-year career with the Devils. In that time, the ten-time All-Star holds nearly every meaningful statistical record for a goaltender by the team and the League.
Born in Montreal, he’s widely regarded as one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. He’s won three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies, and five Jennings Trophies.
Brodeur ranks first in games played (1,266) played, first in total wins (691), and first in shutouts (125). A great puck-handler, he’s the only goalie in NHL history to record two goals.
New York Islanders
Mike Bossy, Right Wing
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.
The 1980s was a glorious time to be an Islander. Players like Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin and Bob Nystrom formed a dynasty that won four consecutive Stanley Cups. The team was stacked with talent, but the driving force behind them was Mike Bossy. He finished his career with a 1.5 points-per-game average and an eye-popping .76 goals-per-game average–the highest of any player in the history of the NHL.
Bossy was selected fifteenth overall in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft by the Islanders. He played every game of his ten-year career with the team, scoring a remarkable 573 goals, including nine consecutive 50-goal seasons.
The eight-time All Star won the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, the Lady Byng Trophy three times and the Conn Smythe in 1982. League-wide, despite playing only 752 games, he ranks 22nd in goals (573), tied for 113th in assists (553) and tied for 59th in points (1,126).
New York Rangers
Brian Leetch, Defense
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Arguments could be made for a handful of Blue Shirts, including Rod Gilbert, Eddie Giacomin, and Andy Bathgate. Digging deeper into each player’s accomplishments, the Rangers best player of all time is Brian Leetch.
Leetch was taken by the Rangers with the ninth overall pick in 1986. Coming out of Boston College, Leetch won the Calder in his rookie season, with 71 points in 68 games. He helped the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1994 and received the Conn Smythe by posting 34 points in 23 playoff games, becoming the first American player to receive the award.
Aside from winning the Norris Trophy twice (1992 and 1997), Leetch was almost always in consideration for it–he was in the top 11 in voting in 14 of the 18 seasons he played. His 1,129 career games played ranks second in franchise history, trailing only Harry Howell and his 981 points also rank second. He’s also the Blue Shirts’ career assist leader (741). On top of these statistics, Leetch also won the Players’ Player Award in each of his final four seasons on Broadway. This award has been given annually since 1959 season to the player, selected by his teammates “who best exemplifies what it means to be a team player.”
Among all NHL defensemen, he ranks 32nd in games played (1,205), tenth in goals (247), seventh in assists (781) and eighth in points (1,028).
Erik Karlsson, Defense
While Daniel Alfredsson was the heart and soul of the Senators for an impressive 17 seasons, scoring at almost a point-per-game pace (1,108 points in 1,178 games) and winner of the Calder and Clancy Trophies, Erik Karlsson was even more superior.
The speedy, smooth-skating Swede was taken by the Sens with the fifteenth pick in 2008. In his nine seasons with the franchise, he was the team, averaging a workhorse load of 25:58 of ice time per game. He won the Norris twice and was runner-up twice.
Offensively gifted, in 2015-16, Karlsson broke the record for most points (82) in a single season by a Swedish defenseman, previously set by Nicklas Lidstrom. He also finished in the top five in scoring — the first blueliner to do so since Paul Coffey in 1985-86. Karlsson also led the league in assists — the first defenseman to do so since Bobby Orr in 1974-75. He scored more than 70 points in four different seasons and is the second defenseman in NHL history to lead his team in scoring in four consecutive campaigns.
Bobby Clarke, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987.
While a case could be made Hall of Famers Bernie Parent or Eric Lindros, the best Flyer to date is Bobby Clarke.
Clarke played his entire 15-year career with the Flyers, leading them to the playoffs in 13 of those seasons. His accolades include two Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies, plus Lester B. Pearson, Masterton and Selke awards. He had three 100-point seasons, twice leading the league in assists and played in eight All-Star Games.
Clarke often centered Reggie Leach and Bill Barber, forming the LCB line. In 1975-76, the trio scored 141 goals–a record for most goals by a line. That year he had a plus-minus rating of plus-83 while amassing 119 points, setting a personal best and franchise record for most points in a single season. Among all NHL players, he ranks tied for 146th in games played (1,144), tied for 134th in goals (358), 25th in assists (852) and 44th in points (1,210).
Mario Lemieux, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.
Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr may be among the top 20 best players to play in the NHL, but Lemieux is in the top three.
Although his career was plagued by Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tendinitis and back issues that sidelined him for 513 regular season games, the list of his accomplishments is never-ending. Drafted first overall by the Penguins in 1984, Lemieux quickly made an impact. He scored 43 goals and 100 points in his rookie season en route to winning the Calder Trophy.
Lemieux led the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992, collecting the Conn Smyth Trophy both years. He won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player voted by the players four times, the Hart Trophy three times, and the Art Ross Trophy six times. His .754 goals-per-game average for his career ranks second only to Mike Bossy.
He is the only player to score one goal in each of the five possible situations (even strength, power play, shorthanded, penalty shot and empty net) in a single NHL game. Among all NHL players, despite playing in only 915 games, he’s tied for 10th in goals (690), 12th in assists (1,033) and eighth in points (1,723).
San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton, Center
While the Boston Bruins drafted Thornton with the first overall pick in 1997, the once thickly bearded center has become the face of the Sharks. The power forward played seven seasons in Boston before being traded to the Sharks. That year he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies.
“Jumbo Joe” measures up at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. The four-time All Star has the most assists (1,039) and the most points (1,441) of any player in the NHL since 1997. He holds the record for most assists in Sharks’ history and best plus-minus (plus-175) of any Shark, as well as the highest assists-per-game (.76) and points-per-game (1.00) averages in franchise history.
St. Louis Blues
Brett Hull, Right Wing
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Over the long run, Bernie Federko was a great all-around player to wear the Blue Note. He leads nearly every major offensive category for the Blues, including games played (927); assists (721) and points (1,073). He’s second in goals (352); hat tricks (11); power-play goals (116), and fourth in game-winning goals (40). In the playoffs, he’s second in points (101) and goals (35), and first in assists (66).
That said, Brett Hull stands even taller. Hull played 11 seasons for the Blues, scoring 527 goals and compiling 409 assists for 936 points in only 744 games. While with the Blues, he won the Lady Byng and Hart trophies as well as the Lester B. Pearson Award. He was also among the top 10 for these accolades several times during that time.
In the three-season span from 1989-90 to 1991-92, Hull scored a mind-boggling 228 goals — the second-highest three-season total of any player in NHL history, behind only Gretzky’s 250 goals from 1981-84. In the last two of those years, he recorded the incredible feat of scoring goals in 50 games. His 1990-01 tally of 86 goals is the third highest for a single season in NHL history.
As one of the game’s purest snipers, he holds the franchise record for most goals, including most game winners (70) and most hat tricks (27). Over the course of his 19-year career, among all NHL players, he ranks 77th in game played (1,269), fourth in goals scored (741), 63rd in assists (650) and 23rd in points (1,391).
Tampa Bay Lightning
Martin St. Louis, Right Wing
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.
Though Steven Stamkos is on a pace to take this spot if he continues his leadership and production in the coming years, right now the title of best player belongs to St. Louis. The winger edges out Vincent Lecavalier, who when finished playing for the Lightning, was the team’s all-time leading goal-scorer, second-highest point-producer and owner of a championship ring. He left a lasting mark on the city and the franchise.
St. Louis, at only 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, was an underdog his whole life. The fact that he was undrafted speaks to his determination, competitive nature and willingness to outwork anyone in his way, regardless of their size. He is the franchise’s all-time points and assist leader. And he owns four of the top seven point-scoring seasons in the Lightning’s history.
St. Louis played in six All-Star Games and had his name etched into many awards. Aside from winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, he’s a three-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, a Lester B. Pearson Award winner as well as a Hart and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner. The second time he won the Ross, he became the oldest player (37 years of age) to ever lead the League in scoring.
League-wide after a 16-season career in the NHL, St. Louis ranks 154th in games played (1,134), tied for 106th in goals scored (391), 67th in assists (642), and tied for 75th in points (1,033).
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave Keon, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.
The Leafs have 62 former players in the Hockey Hall of Fame — the most of any team in the NHL. The list of special players wearing the leaf for the Blue and White is long. A case could be made for several of them to be named their best player…among them: Darryl Sittler, Dave Keon, and Mats Sundin.
Keon, a speedy defensive forward, is the Leafs all-time best player. He was often was asked to shut down the opponent’s top center and was not only skilled at doing that, he could do it without taking penalties and add some offense.
In his first season, won the Calder in his rookie year by putting up 20 goals and 45 points in the 1960-61 season. It was his first of six straight 20-goal seasons. Over the course of 15 seasons with the Leafs, he was the team’s leading scorer for three seasons and the top goal scorer twice.
Keon is a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Leafs and sits in the top five of nearly every major statistical category in franchise history. Though he scored eight points in the 1967 Stanley Cup Final, his stellar play neutralizing Jean Beliveau earned him the Conn Smyth Trophy — the only Leaf to ever win the award.
He won the Lady Byng Trophy twice and was among the top four vote-getters nine times.
After 18 years in the NHL, he ranks 64th in games played (1,296), 92nd in goals scored (396), 93rd in assists (590), and 90th in points (986). Had Keon not played a four-year stint in the WHA in the middle of his career, he’d be higher in every category.
Henrik Sedin, Center
While Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden and Marcus Naslund were all iconic names for the franchise, playmaker extraordinaire, Henrik Sedin was the best.
Henrik was selected third overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, one spot after his twin brother, Daniel. Through their 17-year careers, the brothers became synonymous with the Vancouver Canucks.
Henrik holds the franchise record for most games played, most assists, and most points. He collected an Art Ross and Hart Memorial trophies — the first-ever won by a Canuck — and two Clancy Trophies for leadership on and off the ice and contributions to their community. Among all NHL players, Henrik ranks 55th in games played (1,330), tied for 324th in goals (240), 26th in assists (830) and 65th in points (1,070).
Vegas Golden Knights
Marc-Andre Fleury, Goaltender
For a franchise that’s only a few years old, the sample size for naming its best player is obviously very small. Viable options for the Golden Knights include William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault. However, there’s one player that’s been the face of the franchise well before the team even took the ice for the first time: “The Flower.”
Despite some injuries, Fleury backstopped the team to a Cinderella-like run to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s first season. He posted a 29-13-4 record in 46 games, with a 2.24 goals against average, a sparkling .927 save percentage and four shutouts. More importantly, his veteran experience and leadership were a calming influence for the young team as they shattered record after record for an expansion team.
Alexander Ovechkin, Left Wing
Though Mike Gartner had a tremendous career with the Caps, scoring 397 goals and 392 assists in 758 games, the honor here goes to Ovechkin. “Ovi” is the franchise leader in goals, points, game-winning goals, and hat tricks. He’s the greatest goal scorer of his generation. And at 37 years old, he’s still terrorizing goalies.
In 2018, Ovechkin willed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. “Great Eight” is an 12-time All-Star, nine-time Maurice Richard winner, three-time Hart winner and three-time Lester B. Pearson winner. He also has his name on the Art Ross, Conn Smythe, and Calder Trophies.
If he continues his goal-scoring pace, he will eventually challenge Gretzky’s record for most goals in the NHL. He’s currently ranked third in goals, 77th in assists, and tied for 18th in points.
Dale Hawerchuk, Center
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Taken by the Jets with the first overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Hawerchuk immediately became the face of the franchise for almost a decade. His Calder Trophy-winning rookie year included 45 goals and 103 points–the youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 points. That season, he helped the team improve a whopping 48 points from the year before.
In nine seasons with the Jets, the Toronto native reached the 100-point plateau six times. His career-best was in 1984-85 when he scored 53 goals and 130 points. He was part of a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres that sent Scott Arniel, Phil Housley, Jeff Parker to the Jets and swapped first-round picks at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Overall for his career, Hawerchuk ranks 118th in games played (1,188), 38th in goals (518), 21st in assists (891) and 20th in points (1,409).
Jeff has been covering the NHL for over a decade for various sites. He’s been with The Hockey Writers as a lead Sabres writer three years, while also writing a satire column called “Off the Crossbar.”