The New York Rangers have been around for almost 100 years and they’ve had some of the best players in NHL history come through their ranks, such as Phil Esposito, Jean Ratelle, Barry Beck, and Brian Leetch. They’ve also had some great brother and father-son combinations like the Cooks, the Hextalls, the Maloneys and the Patricks. Not to mention Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, and Wayne Gretzky, among others.
With that being said, cracking the top-20 all-time goal-scoring list with this legendary franchise steeped in tradition is no easy feat. Below is the list of those prestigious 20.
20. Anders Hedberg
Anders Hedberg played 7 seasons with the Rangers, tallying 172 goals in 465 games. He was one of the first European players to defect to North America to play professional hockey. He landed with the Winnipeg Jets, then of the World Hockey Association (WHA), along with fellow Swedes Ulf Nilsson and Lars-Erik Sojdberg in 1974.
Related: Top 3 All-Time Rangers Goalies
After a few seasons with the Jets, he came over to the Rangers and proceeded to have a solid career with them. He was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1985. The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player or former player who shows perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. Hedberg remained with the team as an assistant general manager to Craig Patrick after he retired.
19. Tomas Sandstrom
Tomas Sandstrom is another player from Sweden who had a good career with the Rangers. He scored 173 goals in 407 games. Sandstrom was actually born in Finland, but grew up in Sweden and maintained Swedish nationality. He dealt with injuries throughout his career since he played a physical game and probably would have had many more goals if it weren’t for that.
Sandstrom was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings during the 1989-90 season where he played on a line with Wayne Gretzky. He battled injuries big time in LA and didn’t quite shine as much as he otherwise would have. He won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and set up Darren McCarty’s game Cup-winning goal.
18. Mike Gartner
Mike Gartner also had 173 goals while playing for the Blueshirts, but he did it in 322 games. He is one of the most prolific goal scorers in NHL history.
The Canadian-born winger used his speed and quick, powerful release coming off the right wing on his way to being named to the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players list.
Gartner lasted for 19 seasons in the NHL, which is a big deal in any era let alone the one he played in. He was a fourth-overall pick of the Washington Capitals in 1979 and started his professional carer in the WHA where he was runner-up to Gretzky for Rookie of the Year.
While playing with the Rangers, Gartner recorded his 500th goal, 500th assist, and 1,000th point in the same season. He became the first player ever to hit those marks in the same season. He was eventually traded to the Pheonix Coyotes where he was the first player to score a goal and a hat trick for the club. He did this in their second game since relocating from Winnipeg. Gartner retired after playing two seasons with the Coyotes.
17. Andy Hebenton
Andy Hebenton scored 177 goals in 560 games with the Rangers as a forward during the 1950s and ’60s. In each of his eight seasons with the team, he never missed a regular-season game.
The Rangers acquired Hebenton from the Victoria Cougars of the Pacific Hockey League in 1955. He scored 20 or more goals five times with the Blueshirts. His best season with the team was in 1958-59 when he had 33 goals and 62 points. He was often thought of as a gentlemanly player and was runner-up for the Lady Bing Memorial Trophy for the 1958-59 season.
16. Ron Greschner
Ron Greschner was a popular player during his tenure with the Rangers. The big defenseman tallied 179 goals while playing 981 games in 16 seasons with the team.
He was a Ranger his whole career and was named to the All-Star team in 1980. The former Rangers’ captain amassed over 1,200 penalty minutes in his career while having several seasons scoring more than 50 points.
Greschner had his best offensive season in 1977-78. During that time he even played left wing for coach Craig Patrick. He recorded 24 goals, 48 assists, and 72 points. According to the book “100 Ranger Greats,” Greschner ranks 12th on the all-time list of stalwart Blueshirts.
15. Phil Esposito
Phil Esposito did most of his damage with the Boston Bruins before he was traded to the Rangers in a blockbuster deal in 1975. Esposito scored 717 goals in 1,282 NHL games. However, his production slowed down drastically when he came to Manhattan and he only scored 184 goals in 422 games with the Rangers.
Those numbers aren’t bad for most players, but for Esposito who currently sits in sixth place on the all-time NHL goal-scoring list, they were nothing compared to what he did in his prime. He broke into the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks and played on a line with “The Golden Jet” Bobby Hull. He was near the top of the league in scoring each of his first three seasons before being traded to the Bruins in 1967.
While in Boston, he led the league in goal scoring six times and was the Art Ross Trophy winner for most points in a season three times. In 1969 and ’74 he won the Hart Trophy for the league’s most valuable player as well. Led by Esposito and Bobby Orr, the Bruins won The Cup in 1970 and ’72.
14. Dean Prentice
Dean Prentice started his career with the Rangers and played the better part of 10 seasons with the team until being dealt to the Bruins during the 1962-63 campaign. Prentice, a Timmins, Ontario-native, notched 186 goals in 666 games with the team.
The durable winger logged 1,378 games in 22 seasons in the NHL playing in five All-Star games. He played half of those seasons with the Blueshirts. Prentice scored a goal in the 1970 All-Star Game when he was 37 years old. The book of “100 Ranger Greats” has him at 37 on the list.
Prentice’s nephew is the former Premier of Alberta who also has his namesake. Prentice recently passed away in November 2019 at the age of 87.
13. Bryan Hextall Sr.
Bryan Hextall Sr. scored 187 goals in 449 games with New York and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1940. He led the league in goals twice and scored the winning goal during the 1940 Cup Final.
Hextall’s sons, Bryan Jr. and Dennis, both started their NHL careers in a Rangers uniform and both had success in the league. His grandson Ron was a great goalie with the Philadelphia Flyers and led them to the 1987 Stanley Cup Final.
Bryan Sr. was one of the earliest to play on his “off wing” — as a left-handed shot he manned the right side. The first-line winger scored 20 or more goals 7 times during his great career. He had his 340 consecutive games played streak ended in 1944 when Canadian war authorities wouldn’t let him cross the border back into the States. He led the league in scoring during the 1941-42 season.
12. Don Maloney
Don Maloney was another very popular player while he was with the Rangers, notching 195 goals in 653 games with the team. He played the bulk of his 13 NHL seasons with the Rangers, many of them alongside his older brother Dave. After Don retired in 1991, he moved into the front office and the executive branch of the NHL.
Maloney, a Lindsay, Ontario-native came up through the Kitchener Rangers system. His best NHL season offensively was in 1982-83 when he had 29 goals and 69 points in 78 games. He was named NHL General Manager of the Year in 2012 while managing the Phoenix Coyotes.
11. Walt Tkaczuk
Walt Tkaczuk was the first German-born player to play in an NHL game. He centered the “Bulldog Line” in-between Dave Balon and Bill Fairbairn. Tkaczuk was more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, but he still scored 227 goals in 945 games as a Ranger. His family moved to Timmins, Ontario, when he was two, giving him the opportunity to make it to the NHL.
Perhaps Tkaczuks’ best moments came during the 1972 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert were down with injuries and Tkaczuk led the Rangers past defending Stanley Cup champs and runner’s up Montreal Canadians and Chicago Blackhawks respectively. Bobby Clarke received an invitation to the famed 1972 Summit Series because Tkaczuk kept his obligation to his summer hockey school he coached at. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe eye injury on Feb. 2, 1981, which ended his career.
10. Bill Cook
Bill Cook is referred to as “The Original Ranger.” He had 228 snipes in 475 games and played his whole career with the team. Cook pulled off a plethora of firsts for the team. He scored their first goal, was their first captain, and in 1928, he lifted their first Stanley Cup. Bill and his brother Bun were part of the team’s “bread line” in Manhattan. The Bread Line scored every goal in the 1928 Final.
Cook led the Rangers back to the Stanley Cup Final in 1929, but they lost to the Montreal Canadians. In 1931-32, he tied Charlie Conacher for the league lead in goals with 34. Cook was elected to the NHL’s first All-Star team in 1931.
Cook turned to coaching after his career and won two Calder Cups in the minors with the Cleveland Barons. He also was head coach of the Rangers in 1951-52 and indicted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1952. In 1975, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
9. Brian Leetch
Brian Leetch is the only American player on this list. He played 1,129 games in a Rangers’ uniform, scoring 240 goals as a defenseman. He played in the second-most games for the Rangers behind the legendary Harry Howell.
The Hall of Famer was a two-time Norris Trophy winner, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and Lester Patrick Trophy winner, which honors the player who contributes to ice hockey in The United States. Lester Patrick was a longtime player and coach for the Blueshirts. Leetch is also one of only five NHL defensemen to score over 100 points in a season.
He notched 23 goals in his rookie campaign and that holds up as the most ever by a rookie defenseman. The Rangers retired his jersey number in 2008, and friend and former teammate Mark Messier called Leetch the “greatest Ranger of all time” during the ceremony.
8. Steve Vickers
Steve Vickers, a Toronto-native, played all of his 10 NHL seasons with the Rangers, scoring 246 goals in 698 games. He played on two different lines in his career, one with Tkaczuk, and one with Ratelle. He had four 30-goal seasons throughout his time in the league.
Vickers, nicknamed “The Sarge,” won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1973, scoring 30 goals and 59 points that season. He played his entire career with the Rangers. Vickers was on a line with Tkaczuk and Bill Fairbairn, which was considered one of the best two-way lines throughout the 1970s.
7. Mark Messier
Mark “The Moose” Messier had 250 goals playing in 698 games during his two stints with the Rangers. In 1994, he was the leader that willed the team to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
Messier, who’s considered one of the greatest leaders in all of professional sports history, ended his career with 694 goals and six Stanley Cup rings. Not bad for a third-round pick.
Messier left the Rangers for a big contract with the Vancouver Canucks in 1997. He did return to the team in 2000 and retired in 2004. He is third on the NHL’s all-time points list and second in games played and career playoff points. In June 2017, Messier was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to hockey as an outstanding player and captain, and for his encouragement of children to get involved in the sport.
6. Camille Henry
Camille Henry played 637 games and notched 256 goals in a Rangers uniform, and was a Lady Bing Trophy winner. At 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, Camille “The Eel” was the smallest player in the NHL. Before his pro career, he scored 21 points in only 8 games during the 1953 Memorial Cup.
Henry was hampered by injuries throughout his career due to his small stature. His claim to fame might be beating out Jean Beliveau for Rookie of the Year in the 1953-54 season. He had three different stints with the Rangers and played in three All-Star Games through his career.
Aside from beating out Beliveau for Rookie of the Year his other claim to fame was the way he would often score goals by batting the puck out of mid-air. He was also on the St. Louis Blues the day Bobby Orr scored his famous Stanley Cup goal in 1970. That was Henry’s last hockey game.
5. Vic Hadfield
Vic Hadfield had 262 goals with the Rangers in 841 games. He was the very first Ranger to score 50 goals in a season and the sixth player in league history to do so. He played on the GAG “Goal a Game” line with Ratelle and Rod Gilbert. He also has the third-most penalty minutes in team history.
Hadfield ranks 20th in the “100 Ranger Greats” book. The Oakville, Ontario-native played 13 seasons in New York. He wore Number 11 with the Rangers and they retired his jersey in December of 2018. At the time he retired, Hadfield was fourth in goals, assists and points in Rangers’ history. He currently owns a driving range in Oakville where he resides.
4. Andy Bathgate
Andy Bathgate played from 1952 to 1971, and 12 of those seasons were with the Rangers, tallying 272 goals in 719 games with the club. He was a tough but clean player, and was often mentioned in the same breath as Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Maurice Richard.
Bathgate lost the Art Ross Trophy race as NHL’s leading scorer to Bobby Hull in the 1961-62 season. Hull won because he had more goals, although they both had the same number of points. Bathgate had the misfortune of playing on mediocre Rangers teams, but won a Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs after being traded during the 1963-64 season.
He was then dealt to the Detroit Red Wings where he helped them to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. Bathgate also played on the expansion Pittsburgh Penguins in 1967-68 and scored their first goal in franchise history.
3. Adam Graves
Adam Graves was an excellent two-way player with a great shot, and he could also pass the puck pretty well. “Gravy” netted 280 goals in 772 games in a Rangers’ uniform.
The former 22nd-overall pick of the Red Wings is a Tecumseh, Ontario-native, and was a vital part of the 1994 Stanley Cup team. Graves also won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1990. He had one season where he scored more than 50 goals, and finished his NHL career with 329 goals and 616 points.
Graves was always popular in the dressing room on all of his teams. He won the King Clancy Award in 1994 for the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and shows humanitarianism in the community, and was also awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Rangers retired his Number 9 jersey in 2009.
2. Jean Ratelle
Ratelle was one of the best players ever to wear a Rangers’ uniform. He ended up with 336 goals in 861 games. He averaged about a point per game in his career and won the Lady Bing Trophy twice. His career was almost cut short at the age of 23 when he sustained a devastating back injury.
He subsequently needed major spinal cord surgery and miraculously was able to come back and play with the Rangers in 1963. Ratelle led the team in scoring from 1968-73. In 2006, Jaromir Jagr broke Ratelle’s single-season Rangers scoring record of 106 points. He was named to the “100 Greatest NHL Players” team and inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
Along with being a goal scorer, Ratelle was also a good passer and great on face-offs. He was part of Team Canada’s Summit Series victory over the Soviets in 1972. He played 16 seasons with the Blueshirts and 22 in the NHL.
1. Rod Gilbert
The top goal scorer in Rangers’ history is Rod Gilbert. He was the first Rangers’ player to have his jersey retired and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982. However, he nearly never played an NHL game. Gilbert was playing his junior hockey in Guelph with the Biltmores, a team under the Rangers’ umbrella at the time. He was playing alongside his friend from Montreal, Jean Ratelle, and like Ratelle, Gilbert needed major back surgery to continue his career.
At some point, fans threw debris on the ice, which was common back then. Gilbert ended up slipping and severely injured his spine. Doctors told him he needed a spinal fusion to even be able to walk again, so his hockey career was in jeopardy. However, the fusion was extremely successful — he recovered quickly and was able to get back on the ice.
Gilbert racked up a total of 256 points in three seasons with Guelph and the following year he made the Rangers’ roster. In New York, he played on the GAG line with Ratelle and Hadfield.
While playing with the Rangers, Gilbert’s bone graft that was administered during his spinal fusion broke off. He had to go back on the operating table and while there he said he had an out of body experience. Gilbert said that he heard his coach Emile Francis yell to the nurse, “Bring him back, he’s my best player.” Gilbert was quoted as saying he heard Francis say that and it motivated him to come back into his body. Gilbert, still to this day works in the Rangers’ organization.
There’s certainly a great deal of history when it comes to the city of New York and the Rangers are a big part of that history. They’ve helped shape the city over the last century and helped New Yorkers identify themselves with the city. These players are greatly responsible for it.
It should be noted that Chris Kreider will crack this list next season if he scores more than 25 goals.
All stats, unless otherwise linked, are courtesy of Quanthockey.com
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.