The state of hockey has had some terrific hockey players born and raised within. From Hall of Fame players to one’s who got to play for their home state teams, you can make a few solid lineups just of players from Minnesota. However, let’s narrow it down to the best starting lineup you can make from players born in the great state of Minnesota.
Centre – Neal Broten
Born in Roseau, Minnesota, in 1959, Neal Broten got to live the dream of playing for his home state’s team, the Minnesota North Stars, for 13 seasons after being drafted by them in the second round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.
Broten shot out of a cannon in his first NHL season in 1981-82. At only 22 years old, he played in 73 games that season for the North Stars and registered 98 points. Sixty of those points came from assists, showcasing his elite playmaking ability.
His best season came in 1985-86, where he scored 29 goals and 76 assists for 105 points in 80 games. He finished his career in 1996-97 season with 274 goals and 593 assists for 867 career points. He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.
Left Wing – Zach Parise
Zach Parise, similar to Broten, got the chance to play for his state’s NHL team; instead, it was the Wild, not the North Stars. While Broten was drafted to the North Stars, Parise chose the Wild over multiple other suitors when he was a free agent in the summer of 2012.
Parise might be currently near the tail end of his career, but that shouldn’t make people forget that he is one of the best players to ever come out of Minnesota. He recently hit 800 points in his NHL career and is currently helping lead the Wild to a great 2020-21 regular season. He also has the most goals ever by a Minnesota-born player. Because of all those reasons, he gets the starting left-wing spot on this lineup.
Right Wing – Blake Wheeler
Another current NHL player finds his way onto this starting lineup in the Winnipeg Jets’ captain Blake Wheeler. He’s fourth all-time in points from Minnesota-born players with 793 and is catching up to Parise quickly.
He is the type of power forward that every team strives to have in their lineup. He has the skill to play with the most talented of players and can be physical and play a great 200-foot game all at the same time.
Defence – Phil Housley
This is the easiest selection on this team by far, as Phil Housley is the best hockey player to come out of Minnesota. In 1495 NHL games, he registered 338 goals and 894 assists for 1232 career points. Those 1232 career points are the fourth highest among defencemen in NHL history.
Despite being one of the greatest defencemen in NHL history, Housley never got his name on the Stanley Cup. Regardless, he finds himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame and second all-time for points from American-born players, only behind Mike Modano. He’s not only an easy choice for a lineup of the best players born in Minnesota but possibly even if you include all of the USA; he would be in that lineup as well.
Defence – Reed Larson
Reed Larson was a staple on the Detroit Red Wings’ defence in the late ’70s and early ’80s. An offensive defenceman with a great slap shot, he hit 15 or more goals nine times in his career, with six of those seasons hitting 20 or more.
Larson played under legendary coach Herb Brooks at the University of Minnesota and registered 685 points in 904 NHL games. He is also a member of the US Hockey Hall of Fame, inducted in 1996. There is an award named after him for the state’s top senior defenceman.
Goalie – Frank Brimsek
We are going all the way back to the late ’30s and throughout the ’40s for this pick, as the all-Minnesota lineup’s goaltender is Frank Brimsek. Born in Eveleth, Minnesota, Brimsek played the majority of his career with the Boston Bruins, winning the Stanley Cup with them in 1939 and 1941.
In 444 career games, Brimsek has a record of 230-144-70 with a 2.57 goals-against average (save percentage wasn’t tracked back then). He won the Calder Trophy in the 1938-39 season, going 33-9-1 in 44 games played. He is also a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, making him one of the most decorated goaltenders to ever come out of Minnesota, deserving of the starting goaltender spot in this all-time lineup.
He also has an award named after him that goes to the state’s top senior goalie, which was recently awarded to Jack Wieneke from Maple Grove High School.
This team is extremely talented, and some great players were left off the roster. Players such as Dave Christian, Dustin Byfuglien, and Tom Kurvers all had great careers and could have found themselves on this list.
There were also players like Jason Blake and Matt Cullen, who had very solid NHL careers, but never had the superstar status like many of these other players did.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.