All-Time Best Player From Every NHL Team

*This article was updated in March 2024
**Archive originally written by Jeff Seide

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 cases filled with the Vezina, Hart, Art Ross, and Calder Trophies. And, of course, there are portraits and biographical sketches of each inducted member.

Wayne Gretzky Mario Lemieux Bobby Orr
Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, and Wayne Gretzky are among the all-time best players from every NHL team. (courtesy of Vince Richards/THW)

So many great players have skated in the NHL, and the debates will rage until the end of time regarding who is the best of the best. However, what if we started a new discussion focusing on the best player from every team? Who is your pick? Who are you going to defend? Who truly deserves the honor?

Related: 10 NHL Players with the Most Stanley Cups

For this list, we considered every player from every position; everyone was eligible, whether they were a forward, defenseman, or goalie. In some cases, selecting the best player wasn’t easy, and a lot was considered; Hall of Fame status, franchise records, and legacies were calculated to assist in the final decision.

Before anyone claims Wayne Gretzky is the best player to ever play for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and New York Rangers, we decided that there could be only one representative from each team, so in The Great One’s case, we picked one team and didn’t consider him for anywhere else.

Who are the best players from all 32 NHL franchises?

Anaheim Ducks – Teemu Selänne

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

The Winnipeg Jets drafted Teemu Selänne as the 10th overall pick in 1988; however, he is synonymous with the Anaheim Ducks. After playing three seasons in Manitoba, where he set the NHL record with 76 goals as a rookie in 1992-93 en route to the Calder Trophy, he was dealt at the trade deadline in 1996 to the relatively new Ducks, established in 1993.

Selänne, known as “The Finnish Flash,” is among the greatest goal scorers in NHL history. He scored 684 goals, which ranks 12th all-time, plus another 44 in the playoffs. During the 1997-98 (52) and 1998-99 (47) seasons, he scored more than any other player in the league. Overall, he had two 50-goal seasons and scored at least 20 goals in 17 of his 21 seasons.

Related: Teemu Selanne’s Unbreakable Record

At 36, Selänne won his only Stanley Cup title with the Ducks in 2007. He was a 10-time All-Star and won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Bill Masterton Memorial Trophies.

Arizona Coyotes – Shane Doan

Shane Doan was the Jets’ seventh overall selection in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, spending his entire 21-season career with the Jets/Coyotes franchise. From 2003 to 2011, he led the team in scoring and was the NHL’s longest-serving captain until his retirement in 2017. Fittingly, the Coyotes retired his No. 19 before a game in which they hosted the Jets on Feb. 24, 2019.

Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes, Coyotes Signing Shane Doan
Shane Doan was captain of the Arizona Coyotes for 13 seasons. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Unsurprisingly, Doan is the Coyotes leader in every significant statistical category, including games played (1,540), goals (402), assists (570), and points (972). Although he never played in the Stanley Cup Final, he did skate in the two All-Star Games (2004, 2009) while winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (2009-10) and the Mark Messier Leadership Award (2011-12).

Boston Bruins – Bobby Orr

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.

Bobby Orr revolutionized the defensive position with speed, scoring, and playmaking. He scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 1970 in the most iconic hockey photo ever taken. Naturally, he would score the clinching goal again in 1972 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy a second time. As a nine-time All-Star, Orr is one of the game’s most decorated players, winning eight (consecutive) Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenseman. Moreover, he won the Hart Trophy (three times) while remaining the only defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy, which he did twice.

Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

He also won the Calder Trophy in the 1966-17 season and the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1974-75. He holds the record for most points (139) and assists (102) by a defenseman in a single season. Orr played in 657 games, scoring 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points before a knee injury cut his career short at 30.

Buffalo Sabres – Dominik Hašek

Inducted into the Hall of Fame 2014.

Gilbert Perreault was the Buffalo Sabres’ first-ever draft selection, and his NHL career spanned 17 seasons in blue and gold. He was the face of the franchise, a Calder and Lady Byng winner, and 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, leading his team to 11 consecutive playoff appearances. Years after retiring, he still dominates almost every offensive statistical category for the Sabres.

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However, the best player to ever wear the Sabres sweater is Dominik Hašek, whose unorthodox but successful style is arguably the best goalie in NHL history. During the 1998-99 season, “The Dominator” put the team on his back and carried the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final.

Dominik Hasek Buffalo Sabres
Dominik Hašek, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hašek won the Vezina a staggering six times in eight full seasons with the Sabers, the Hart and Jennings Trophies twice, and the Lester B. Person Award twice. He was the first goaltender to win the Hart multiple times. Of all goalies who have played over 250 games, Hasek has the highest career save percentage (.922) and is first in the modern era in goals against average (2.20).

Calgary Flames – Jarome Iginla

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020.

The Flames have had some outstanding players in their history, including Kent Nilsson, Joe Mullen, Theo Fleury, and Joe Nieuwendyk. However, no one meant more to the franchise than Jarome Iginla. Initially selected eleventh overall by the Dallas Stars at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, he ended up in Calgary in the Nieuwendyk trade in 1995. The two-time 50-goal scorer is the Flames’ all-time leader in goals (525), points (1,095), and games played (1,219) and is one of only seven players in the NHL to score 30 or more goals in 11 consecutive seasons.

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Iginla played in four All-Star Games and claimed the Maurice Richard Trophy twice. In addition to winning the King Clancy, Lester B. Pearson Award, and Art Ross Trophies, he was an All-Rookie Team selection and earned five postseason First and Second Team All-Star Honors. In 2003-04, he captained the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final. He was also recognized with the Mark Messier Leadership Award for his community and charitable work.

Related: Flames’ Leading Scorers by Decade

Carolina Hurricanes – Ron Francis

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

Ron Francis may have won two Stanley Cup titles with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s. However, his legacy remains unmatched with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise. As the team’s first pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft (fourth overall), “Ronny Franchise” would make his NHL debut as an 18-year-old, collecting 800 points in 714 games in Hartford before being dealt to the Penguins in 1991.

Ron Francis Hartford Whalers
Ron Francis, Hartford Whalers (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

After eight years playing alongside Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, picking up 449 assists and 613 points, he came home to the Whalers in 1999, who relocated to Carolina in 1997. As captain in 2002, he led the franchise to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Although he finished his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Francis remains the leader in every scoring category in Hurricanes history, including games played (1,186), goals (382), assists (793), and points (1,175).

In addition to winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy, King Clancy Memorial Trophy, and three Lady Byng Trophies, Francis was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2007. He is the fifth-highest scorer in NHL history, with 1,798 points in 1,731 games.

Chicago Blackhawks – Stan Mikita

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.

While Bobby Hull holds the Chicago Blackhawks record for most goals, Stan 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 erected outside the United Center in 2011.

Known as “Stosh,” Mikita was generally regarded as the best centerman of the 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 too much time sitting down.

Stan Mikita
Stan Mikita, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

In addition to winning the Stanley Cup in 1961, he won the Lester Patrick Trophy; he won the Hart Trophy (twice), the Lady Byng Trophy (twice), and the Art Ross Trophy four times. 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 it back to back 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. He ranks first in Blackhawks history with 1,396 games played, 926 assists, and 1,467 points while scoring the second-most goals with 541.

Colorado Avalanche – Joe Sakic

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

The Quebec Nordiques selected Joe Sakic with the 15th 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, including goals (625), assists (1,016), points (1,641), powerplay goals (205), and shorthanded goals (32). His wrist shot was a weapon, helping him hit the 50-goal mark twice and rack up 100 points six times.

Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche
Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche (THW Archives)

Sakic was a great captain and made everyone around him a better player. He was named to 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.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Sergei Bobrovsky

The Philadelphia Flyers signed free-agent netminder Sergei Bobrovsky in May 2010. The undrafted Russian netminder played 83 games over two seasons before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in June 2012. During his seven-year tenure, he compiled a 213-130-27 record with 33 shutouts while winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie in 2013 and 2017.

Columbus Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Additionally, while a member of the Blue Jackets, he played in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game and earned First All-Star Team honors in 2013 and 2017. In 2018-19, Bobrovsky helped the franchise win their first playoff series, sweeping the heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning, where he surrendered just eight goals and had a .932 save percentage. Bobrovsky remains Columbus’ leader in wins (213), save percentage (.921), and goals-against average (2.41).

Dallas Stars – Mike Modano

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

Notable Dallas Star players include Ed Belfour, Sergei Zubov, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin. However, no one’s career is synonymous with a franchise like Mike Modano. 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 franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993, Modano was influential in popularizing the game of hockey in Texas.

Mike Modano Dallas Stars
Mike Modano, Dallas Stars (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

He holds the record for most points scored by a U.S.-born player (1,374) while helping the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999, playing all six games of the Final against the Sabres despite having a broken bone in his wrist. Though he never won an individual award, he was a Frank J. Selke and Lady Byng Trophy finalist. Modano maintains the top spot in every offensive category in Stars’ history, including games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802), and points (1,359).

Detroit Red Wings – Nicklas Lidström

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

The Red Wings have had several sport-defining players in their history. Among them are “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidström, 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, goals, and points scored. He was the NHL points leader until Wayne Gretzky came along. However, Lidstrom is the Red Wings’ best player ever.

After being drafted 53rd overall by the Red Wings in 1989, he quickly became a cornerstone of the team and a key player during their success in the 1990s and early 2000s. His accomplishments include four Stanley Cups, a dozen NHL All-Star games, seven Norris Trophies, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and an NHL All-Rookie selection.

In addition, he was the first European captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team, 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. Not only is Lidström the best player to play for the Red Wings, but he is also one of the best players ever to play the game.

Edmonton Oilers – Wayne Gretzky

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.

Gretzky is arguably the best player ever to 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 would be and found a way to be there at the right time. He loved to set up behind his opponent’s net—an area known as his “office”—to confound defensemen and frustrate goalies.

Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Wayne Gretzky played nine years with the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

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 15 NHL seasons. He ranks tied for 24th in career games played (1,487), 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, with Jaromir Jagr ranking second all-time in points with 1,921.

Related: Wayne Gretzky – The Great One’s 10 Most Unbreakable Records

When he retired in 1999, the Brantford, Ontario superstar held 61 NHL records. His No. 99 has been retired league-wide, making him the only player to receive such an honor.

Florida Panthers – Pavel Bure

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

While Roberto Luongo played 11 seasons with the Panthers and is often considered the face of the franchise, the nod this time goes to Pavel Bure. Known as “The Russian Rocket” for his speed, he was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1989 with the 113th pick.

Pavel Bure, Florida Panthers
Pavel Bure, Florida Panthers (Rick Stewart/Getty Images/NHLI

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

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.

Marcel Dionne, 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, was chosen by the Detroit Red Wings as 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.

Marcel Dionne
Marcel Dionne’s career 1.31 points-per-game average is fifth-best in the NHL. (Photo by Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images)

Dionne centered the famous “Triple Crown Line” with wingers Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor. In the 1979-80 season, he tallied 137 points, tying Gretzky for tops in the league. He won the Art Ross Trophy that year, besting The Great One by two goals. Dionne was a four-time All-Star and 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).

Minnesota Wild – Mikko Koivu

Despite the claim that Marián Gáborík is the best player in the Minnesota Wild’s history, he was a prolific goal scorer who compiled 219 lamplighters in 502 games. Meanwhile, the heart and soul of the team for more than a decade was Mikko Koivu, the Wild’s top pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Over a 15-year career, where he served as team captain for 11 years, Koivu is the only skater to wear a Minnesota sweater for more than 1,000 games, finishing his stint with the team at 1,028. Although he doesn’t own the team’s goal record, coming within 14 goals of Gáborík’s mark of 219, he is the top playmaker with 504 assists and the only one with over 700 points (709). Despite not being flashy like Gáborík and Kirill Kaprizov, Koivu remains the only player with his number retired by the Wild.

Montreal Canadiens – Jean Béliveau

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

With a rich and storied franchise like the Montreal Canadiens, choosing one player as its best is challenging. It meant sifting through the accomplishments of iconic players like Maurice Richard, Henri Richard, Guy Lafleur, Patrick Roy, Jacques Plante, and Ken Dryden. Careful consideration indicates that Jean Béliveau is the greatest player to play for the Les Canadiens de Montréal. Known as “Le Gros Bill,” he won a remarkable 10 Stanley Cups with the Habs and another seven as an executive. He was a 10-time All-Star, two-time Hart Trophy winner, Art Ross winner, and the inaugural winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Jean Beliveau Montreal Canadiens
Jean Beliveau, Jean-Guy Talbot, Yvan Cournoyer, and Dick Duff celebrate winning the Stanley Cup in 1965. (THW Archives)

When Béliveau 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 also one of the game’s best playoff performers, collecting 79 goals and 97 assists for 176 points in 162 playoff games. Béliveau is the second all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history, behind only Guy Lafleur.

Nashville Predators – Pekka Rinne

The Nashville Predators selected Pekka Rinne in the eighth round (258th overall) at the 2004 Entry Draft. He played his entire 15-year career with the franchise, where he owns every goalie record. Besides leading Nashville to their only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016, he is Finland’s winningest goalie in NHL history with 369 victories and has the most shutouts with 60.

Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 6-foot-5 goalie took over the Predators’ crease in 2008 and played at least 45 games yearly, including a league-leading 73 in 2011-12. The three-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. Upon retiring, Nashville gave him the honor of becoming the first player to have his number retired and erected a statue of him outside Bridgestone Arena.

New Jersey Devils – Martin Brodeur

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.

Martin Brodeur is one of the few netminders ever taken in the first round when the New Jersey Devils selected him with the 20th pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. Outside of seven games, he skated in 1,259 games with the franchise, winning three Stanley Cup titles while breaking and setting numerous league records for games played, wins, losses, and shutouts.

Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur (Flickr/LindseyAAkiyama)

Born in Montreal, Brodeur idolized Patrick Roy and surpassed many of his heroes’ records, arguably becoming the greatest goalie in NHL history. On top of the Stanley Cup titles, the Vezina Trophy four times and collected the William Jennings Trophy five times. Regarding his place in the record books, he ranks first in games played (1,266), wins (691), losses (397), and shutouts (125). After scoring two goals, one in the regular season and one in the playoffs, the NHL adopted the trapezoid, limiting the goalie’s ability to play the puck behind the net.

Related: 10 Best First-Round Drafted Goalies in NHL History

New York Islanders – Mike Bossy

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

The New York Islanders are the last true dynasty in professional hockey. From 1980 to 1984, they won four straight Stanley Cup titles with the likes of Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, and Bob Nystrom. Those teams were stacked with talent, but the driving force behind it was five-time 60-goal scorer Mike Bossy. In just ten seasons, he compiled 1,126 points in 752 games while having the highest goals-per-game average (.76) of any player in history.

Initially selected by the Islanders with the 15th overall pick in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, Bossy scored 50 or more goals in nine consecutive seasons. He was an eight-time All-Star who won the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, the Lady Byng Trophy on three occasions, and the Conn Smythe in 1982. Surprisingly, Bossy did not enter the Hall of Fame until four years after retiring, in 1991, and remains one of the most beloved skaters in Islanders’ history.

New York Rangers – Brian Leetch

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

The New York Rangers have some Hall of Famers who deserve to be selected as the team’s best players, including Rod Gilbert, Eddie Giacomin, Andy Bathgate, and Henrik Lundqvist. Although every player is worthy, Brian Leetch‘s legendary career and accomplishments make him the greatest skater to play on Broadway.

As the ninth overall pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, Leetch won the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, with 71 points in 68 games. Before playing a decade in the league, he would become the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe when New York ended a 54-year curse by winning the Stanley Cup in 1994. Considering he played in one of the game’s most productive eras, he was the last defenseman to score 100 points in a season before Erik Karlsson achieved the feat in 2023.

Leetch was a two-time Norris Trophy winner who played 1,129 games and scored 981 points for the Rangers, which ranks second all-time in each category. Even though he left New York over 20 years ago, he remains the only skater with more than 700 assists, ranking first with 741. He’s been inducted into the United States and the Hockey Hall of Fame thanks to his distinguished career.

Ottawa Senators – Daniel Alfredsson

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022.

The Ottawa Senators, who came back into existence in 1992, have only had two Hall of Famers in their lineup: Marion Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson, the franchise’s best player. After an illustrious career, which spanned 17 seasons in Canada’s capital city, the Swedish forward amassed 1,108 points, almost doubling the totals of Jason Spezza, 658, the second all-time leading scorer.

Daniel Alfredsson Ottawa Senators
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Despite scoring only more than 100 points once and not reaching the 500-goal plateau, Alfredsson gained admission into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022. He won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, earning the King Clancy and Mark Messier Leadership Awards. Given his untiring efforts in the community, it was shocking to hear that the Senators let him go in 2013. He played with Detroit to finish his NHL career. Although the divorce was hostile, Alfredsson is back in the organization as an assistant coach today.

Philadelphia Flyers – Bobby Clarke

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987.

Although the Philadelphia Flyers are not an Original Six team, they have a deep history that changed how hockey was played in the 1970s when the “Broadstreet Bullies” ran the hockey world. Despite Bernie Parent making the case as the best Flyers player of all time, Eric Lindros deserves recognition for his impact on the sport in the 1990s. However, the answer to the question of who the best player in their history has always been pretty simple: Bobby Clarke.

Remember: Bobby Clarke: The Ultimate Philadelphia Flyer

His iconic wink and toothless smile with the Stanley Cup are among the most memorable photos in NHL history. Clarke, a two-time champion, played his entire 15-year career with the Flyers, leading them to the playoffs in 13 seasons. In addition to two rings, he won the Hart Trophy three times and claimed the Lester B. Pearson, Bill Masterton, and Selke awards.

Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers
Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Clarke had three 100-point seasons, twice leading the league in assists, and played in eight All-Star Games. As the famous center of the LCB line, flanked by Reggie Leach and Bill Barber, the trio scored 141 goals–a record for most goals by a line in 1974-75. Forty years after retiring, Clarke remains the only Flyers skater to surpass 1,000 points to be the team’s top scorer with 1,210 points and 852 assists in 1,144 games.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Mario Lemieux

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jagr may be among the best 20 players in NHL history, but Mario Lemieux is arguably one of the greatest players to ever put on skates. Unfortunately, his 17-year NHL career was plagued with injuries, including tendinitis, back issues, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, forcing him to miss 513 regular season games, yet his accomplishments in 915 are astounding.

Initially drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1984, Lemieux quickly made an impact, scoring on his first shift on his first shot while skating around future Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. Because of his heroics that rookie season, including 43 goals and 100 points, he walked away with the Calder Trophy, one of many NHL awards he’d win throughout his career.

Once on the verge of relocation, 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.

Related: Remembering What Made Mario Lemieux the Greatest

Besides being the only player to score a goal in each of the five possible situations (even strength, power play, shorthanded, penalty shot, and empty net), he is the best statistical player in Pittsburgh history, leading in goals (690), assists (1,033), and points (1,723). Even though Crosby may pass him before he retires, Lemieux’s legacy in Steel Town goes beyond his achievements on the ice, rescuing the team from bankruptcy in 2000 and becoming the first-ever player-owner in North American sports history.

San Jose Sharks – Patrick Marleau

The choice for the best player in San Jose Sharks history came down to two players: Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. These two players were drafted after one another in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, and they are two future Hall of Famers who led the franchise through its most successful period, appearing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.

As the first player in Sharks’ history to have his number retired, Marleau is the NHL’s all-time leader in games played (1,779), breaking Howe’s record after it stood for four decades. Naturally, he’s the Sharks’ best statistical skater in games played (1,607), goals (522), and points (1,111) while ranking second in assists behind Thornton. Despite not earning a plaque in the Hall of Fame yet, Marleau is one of the top players of his generation and left a legacy that will remain untouched in San Jose for decades to come.

Seattle Kraken – Jared McCann

The Seattle Kraken came into existence in 2021 and hasn’t had the luxury of decades of great players wearing their sweaters. However, after just three seasons, Jared McCann is separating himself from everyone else for not only being the only 100-point player in their history but soon to be the first skater to reach 100 goals.

Jared McCann Seattle Kraken
Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Through three seasons, McCann is the only player to lead the team in scoring, compiling seasons of 50 and 70 points while ranking as the top scorer (again) in 2023-24, on pace for 67 points. As one of the team’s original draft picks in the 2021 expansion draft, he’s under contract until the end of the 2026-27 season, meaning he’s got a chance to net 250 goals and 350 points before becoming a free agent.

St. Louis Blues – Brett Hull

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

In the early days, Bernie Federko was the best all-around player to skate with the St. Louis Blues. He remains the leader in nearly every major offensive category, including games played (927), assists (721), and points (1,073). Moreover, he’s second in goals (352), hat tricks (11), and powerplay goals (116) and is tied for fourth in game-winning goals (40). In the playoffs, he’s second in points (101), third in goals (35), and first in assists (66).

Related: Americans with 50-Goal Seasons

Despite all those accolades, Brett Hull is the greatest player in St. Louis history. In just 11 seasons, Hull scored 527 goals with 409 assists for 936 points in only 744 games. While with the Blues, he won the Lady Byng, Hart Trophy, and the Lester B. Pearson Award.

Brett Hull
Brett Hull, St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the three seasons 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. One of his most significant accomplishments is netting 86 goals in 1990-91, which remains the third-highest total for a single season in NHL history.

Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos

A generation ago, the best players in Tampa Bay Lightning history were vital in the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title win in 2004: Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Brad Richards. Fast-forward two decades, and the choice regarding the Lightning’s best player is relatively simple: Steven Stamkos. After overtaking St. Louis’ team records, Stamkos is now the only player to score 500 goals and 1,000 points in Tampa Bay.

Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning 2021 Stanley Cup
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Besides becoming one of 47 players to reach 500 goals, if Stamkos remains healthy, there’s a good chance he will get 600 goals before retiring, an exclusive club of just 20 skaters, all Hall of Famers. In 2024, he ranks sixth amongst active skaters with over 1,100 points and is the captain of the last team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. When Stamkos retires, he’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Dave Keon

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

The Maple Leafs have 62 former players in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the most of any team in the NHL. The list of incredible players wearing blue and white is long. A case could be made for several of them to be named their best player, including Darryl Sittler, Dave Keon, and Mats Sundin.

However, Hall of Famer Dave Keon, a speedy defensive forward, is the Maple Leafs’ all-time best player. He was often asked to shut down the opponent’s top centers during his career. He was skilled at doing that and could do it without taking penalties and chipping on offense. In his first season, 1960-61, he won the Calder Trophy by scoring 20 goals and 45 points, the first of six straight 20-goal seasons. Over 15 years in Toronto, he led the team in scoring on three occasions and in goals twice.

Keon was a four-time Stanley Cup champion and remains in the top four of nearly every major statistical category, such as games played (1,062), goals (365), assists (493), and points (916). In addition to scoring eight points in the 1967 Stanley Cup Final, his stellar play neutralizing Montreal’s Beliveau earned him the Conn Smyth Trophy, making him the only Maple Leafs skater ever to win the award.

Vancouver Canucks – Henrik Sedin

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022.

The choice for the best player in Vancouver Canucks’ history came down to a conversation involving Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden, and Marcus Naslund, all iconic names for the franchise. Still, the playmaker extraordinaire Henrik Sedin is undeniably the best. Along with his twin brother Daniel, the duo went second and third overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft; the brothers became synonymous with the Canucks throughout their 17-year careers.

Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Henrik holds the franchise record for most games played (1,330), assists (830), and points (1,070), trailing Daniel in goals (393) by 47. During his Hall of Fame career, he collected the 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 Swedish-born players, he’s scored the fourth most points while becoming one of 10 skaters from the Nordic country to score 100 points during the regular season.

Vegas Golden Knights – Jonathan Marchessault

Jonathan Marchessault is one of the original “misfits,” the term the first Vegas Golden Knights players gave themselves during that inaugural season, which ended in the Stanley Cup Final. After bouncing between Columbus, Tampa Bay, and Florida, the expansion Golden Knights claimed him in the draft in 2017.

Since his debut in gold, Marchessault has become Vegas’ all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, and points. He’s a six-time 20-goal scorer who surpassed 30 goals twice, the only skater in their brief history to achieve the feat. However, Marchessault’s greatest accomplishment is being voted the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2023 when the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup.

Washington Capitals – Alex Ovechkin

Although Mike Gartner had a tremendous career with the Capitals, scoring 397 goals and 392 assists in only 758 games, Washington’s best player is the only player to lead them to a Stanley Cup championship, Alex Ovechkin. “Ovi” is the franchise leader in goals, points, game-winning goals, and hat tricks. Undoubtedly, he’s the greatest goal-scorer of his generation and, as of this publication, is within 55 goals of catching Gretzky’s record of 894 goals.

Alex Ovechkin Stanley Cup Capitol
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

On top of winning a ring in 2018, the “Great Eight” is a 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. Whether beating goalies on his back, wearing sunglasses at the skills competition, or snipping a one-timer from his office on the powerplay, Ovechkin is not only the best player to wear a Capitals sweater but one of professional hockey’s all-time greatest.

Winnipeg Jets – Dale Hawerchuk

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

As the Jet’s first overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Dale Hawerchuk immediately became the face of the franchise for almost a decade. During his Calder Trophy-winning rookie year, he netted 45 goals and 103 points, becoming the youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 points. Additionally, he helped Winnipeg improve a whopping 48 points from the previous year.

Dale Hawerchuk Winnipeg Jets
Dale Hawerchuk, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

In nine seasons with the Jets, the Toronto native reached the 100-point plateau six times, setting career highs in goals (53) and points (130) in 1984-85. Eventually, Winnipeg traded their four-time All-Star to the Sabres in 1990. Until Doan came along and overtook him in the record book, Hawerchuk still ranks second in goals (379) and points (929) and third in assists (553). As of 2024, he is one of seven skaters to have their number retired by the franchise.