There’s nothing more Canadian than the game of hockey, so it’s not surprising that more than 40 per cent of current NHLers are from the Great White North. You don’t have to look far to find terrific talent from the jagged Rockies, or the sprawling prairies, or the East Coast’s craggy cliffs.
From sea to shining sea, here’s a look at the best and most dominant active NHL player from each Canadian province.
British Columbia — Jamie Benn
We’ll start things off in the West on Vancouver Island, the birthplace of Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn.
Benn was an outright steal for the Stars, selected in the fifth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He’s spent his entire 12-year NHL career in the Lone Star State and has racked up 311 goals and 412 assists for 723 points in 866 career games. His best two seasons were 2014-15 — where he recorded 35 goals and 52 assists for 87 points and captured the Art Ross Trophy — and 2015-16, where he put up 41 goals and 48 assists for 89 points.
A complete player who possesses a hard shot and plays a heavy game, Benn has been a Stars’ cornerstone for a long time but somehow manages to keep a fairly low profile despite being an NHL All-Star. He’s not flashy, but he’s a workhorse who’s very durable: he’s suited up for at least 69 games in every 82-game NHL campaign.
Benn has also had international success: he won a gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Ottawa and an Olympic gold in 2014 in Sochi.
Benn looks destined to be a Star for life: he’s 31 years old now and is locked up through 2024-25.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Morgan Rielly, Shea Weber
Alberta — Taylor Hall
Hailing from the foothills of Calgary, Taylor Hall was the first of three Edmonton Oilers’ first-overall picks.
Chosen in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft after a standout juniors career with the Windsor Spitfires in which he helped the club capture back-to-back Memorial Cups and was the Cup MVP both times, the left-winger really came into his own in 2013-14, when he posted 80 points. He hasn’t really looked back since then.
Although the Oilers were abysmal for most of his tenure there, Hall still has 218 goals and 345 assists for 563 points in his 10-year career. His best offensive season came in 2017-18, his second campaign with the New Jersey Devils. That season, where he popped in 39 goals and added 54 apples for 93 points, won him the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Hall struggled with some injuries in 2019-20 season, but is undoubtedly an explosive player with great puck skills and a natural knack for finding the back of the net. He was traded to the Arizona Coyotes last December, where he recorded 10 goals and 17 assists in 30 games before the NHL shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019-20, he began the season with the Buffalo Sabres on a one-year contract but finished up with the Boston Bruins, being traded there near the Trade Deadline. He recorded 10 goals and 23 assists between the two teams.
Honourable Mentions: Mike Green, William Nylander, Brayden Point
Saskatchewan — Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Getzlaf just edges out Patrick Marleau for the title of best current Saskatchewanian. What sets the Regina-born Getzlaf slightly apart from the Swift Current-born Marleau is that Getzlaf has a Stanley Cup and Marleau does not.
Getzlaf has averaged nearly a point per game over his 16-year career, which he’s spent entirely with the Anaheim Ducks. A prolific playmaker who was outstanding especially when playing with fellow 2003 pick Corey Perry —the duo was even referred to as “Hockey’s Version of Pairs Skaters” by the New York Times — the centre has 279 goals and a 703 assists for 982 points in his 1,1101-game career.
The power forward and captain since 2010-11 is second all-time in points with the franchise — trailing Teemu Selanne by only 23 — and has led the Ducks in scoring seven times. He helped the team capture Lord Stanley’s Mug in 2007 by putting up points in 21 games that postseason, is a three-time NHL All-Star, and has a pair of Olympic gold medals, too.
Honorable Mentions: Jordan Eberle, Patrick Marleau,, Brayden Schenn
Manitoba — Jonathan Toews
The Chicago Blackhawks captain is a class act and a terrific talent, a full package of near-otherworldly intelligence, puck handling prowess, and skating skill.
Chosen third overall in 2006, Toews has spent his entire 13-year career with the Blackhawks, tallying 345 goals and 470 assists for 815 points. He’s also won an eye-popping 56.9 per cent of his face offs.
A true leader and clutch competitor, Toews was instrumental in the Blackhawks’ dynastic three-Cups-in-six-seasons run between 2010-11 and 2014-15, with 40 goals and 70 assists in 128 playoff games. Three years ago, the NHL broke down what makes “Captain Serious” so effective.
Aside from the three Stanley Cups, Toews has also bagged a Frank J. Selke Trophy, Mark Messier Leader of the Year Award, a Conn Smythe Trophy, Six NHL All-Star nods, two World Junior gold medals (2006 and 2007) and two Olympic gold medals (2010 and 2014.) Not too shabby for a guy who’s still only 33.
Unfortunately for Toews, he missed the entirety of the shortened 2020-21 season due to an undisclosed medical issue, with symptoms leaving him feeling “drained and lethargic.” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman expressed optimism that Toews can return for 2021-22.
Honourable mentions: Duncan Keith, Mark Stone, Alexander Steen
Ontario — Connor McDavid
This is an obvious choice, but the right one. While there are dozens of superb players from Ontario — especially from the “hockey player factory” towns in the province’s southern portion — no one is more dominant in today’s NHL than Richmond Hill’s Connor McDavid.
A once-in-a-generational talent, “The Chosen One” has recorded 574 points in just 407 NHL games since being chosen first overall in 2015. A human highlight reel, the centre has outrageous wheels, blows by opponents with ease, and owns out-of-sight offensive awareness.
In 2020-21, he recorded an eye-popping 105 points in just 56 games against Canadian Division opponents, who were powerless to stop him.
He’s only 24 but has already has three 100-plus point seasons and has won three Art Ross Trophies, a pair of Ted Lindsay Awards, and a Hart Memorial Trophy for his 100-point 2016-17 campaign.
It’s hard to see McDavid being anything other than a perennial all-star and 100-point player for another decade, at least. He’s truly the cream of the NHL crop and his prime is just beginning.
Honourable Mentions: Brent Burns, Claude Giroux, Mark Scheifele, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares
Quebec — Patrice Bergeron
A savvy, two-way centre, Patrice Bergeron hails from L’Ancienne-Lorette, a suburb just east of Quebec City.
Bergeron is the picture of consistency and can be counted on to create offence night in, night out and to come through in critical situations. In his 17-year career, which he’s spent entirely with the Bruins, he has 375 goals and 542 assists for 917 points and has tallied 50-plus points 12 times. He’s also won 58.5 per cent of his face offs.
He may not have the speed of Connor McDavid, the shot of Alexander Ovechkin or the championships of Sidney Crosby,” THW’s Drew Johnson wrote. “Yet Bergeron is arguably the most complete player in the NHL – he brings the entire package.”From Drew Johnson’s “Growing Up in the Patrice Bergeron Era”
Bergeron played a key role in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup victory, posting four goals and 16 assists — including two goals in the deciding Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks — and a plus-15 rating in 23 games.
Bergeron’s racked up quite the list of accolades since being selected 45th overall in 2003: he owns an NHL Plus-Minus Award, (he was plus-36 in 2012 and is plus-228 for his career) four Frank J. Selke Awards for his defensive abilities, and a King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
He also won gold at the World Junior Championship in 2005 — he led that tournament in points with 13 and was named MVP — gold at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, and is a Spengler Cup champion for good measure.
Bergeron doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either: despite being 35 years old, he set a new high with 79 points in 2018-19 season and operated at a near point-per-game clip in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Honourable Mentions: Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Huberdeau, Paul Stastny
New Brunswick — Jake Allen
There aren’t many active players from New Brunswick, but St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen certainly stands out as the most successful.
Since being chosen by the Blues 34th overall in 2008, “Jake the Snake” has made 298 starts and has a career 159-106-31 record, 2.52 Goals Against Average, and .912 Save Percentage, and 21 shutouts.
Allen was relegated to backup duty after Jordan Binnington’s meteoric rise, and the Blues went from dead-last to Stanley Cup champion in 2018-19 with Binnington in the crease. Hence, Allen was traded to the Montreal Canadiens prior to last season.
He is locked up there through 2022-23 and will continue to be deployed in tandem with Carey Price.
Nova Scotia — Sidney Crosby
He’s won three Stanley Cups. He’s won two Art Ross Trophies, Hart Trophies, and Ted Lindsay Awards each. He’s also won Lester B. Pearson, Maurice “Rocket” Richard” and Mark Messier Leader of the Year Awards. He’s been named an NHL All-Star eight times. He’s won two Olympic golds — he, of course, scored the iconic “golden goal” in 2010 — and has won World Junior and World Cup of Hockey golds, too.
He’s Sidney Crosby. “The Great One.” The pride of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Nobody in recent memory has single-handedly changed the fortunes of a franchise more than him.
Crosby, who is an elite passer that also owns perhaps the best backhand shot of all-time, has put 1325 points in 1039-career games and has reached the 100-point plateau in six separate seasons. He’s also recorded 186 points in 169 playoff games — including a whopping 31 in 2009 — when the Penguins captured the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings in what was a rematch from the year prior.
Related: NHL’s Top 5 Centers of the 2010s
The Penguins have qualified for the postseason for 14 straight seasons in the Crosby era; the only time they didn’t was his rookie 2005-06 season.
He’s not quite “Sid the Kid” anymore, as his legacy as one of the NHL’s best-ever and as a superb role model has now been firmly cemented. As long as he can avoid the concussion problems which dogged him in the earlier part of last decade, he should continue to excel for a number of seasons yet.
Honourable Mentions: Alex Killorn, Nathan MacKinnon, Brad Marchand
Prince Edward Island — Noah Dobson
The Summerside-born Noah Dobson is just beginning his NHL career with the New York Islanders but has the potential to blossom into an impactful, top-pairing defenseman.
Selected 12th overall in 2018, the 20-year-old is a smooth-skating and mobile blue-liner with good all-around awareness who ate up huge minutes and put up 152 points in his three-year junior career with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and later, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
In his first two seasons with the club, he’s notched four goals and 17 assists in 80 games and skated an average of 15:04.
Newfoundland and Labrador — Clark Bishop
By default, Clark Bishop takes the crown — he’s the only active NHLer from Newfoundland and Labrador.
The forward played 13 games for the Ottawa Senators in 2020-21, recording three assists. Prior, he played 25 games for the Carolina Hurricanes between 2018 and 2020, recording one goal and three assists. He won a Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2018-19.
There have been a number of more notable players from the province who retired recently, including Michael Ryder, Daniel Cleary, and Colin Greening.
Let the Debates Begin!
Do you agree with the selections? Comment below! Also, be sure to check out THW’s piece that highlights the Best NHL Player from Each U.S. State.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.