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Ice hockey has a long tradition in North America and NHL is one of the oldest professional sports leagues in the USA and Canada. That means that many players have written the history of the NHL and today we will talk about some of the best NHL players of all time.
Top 10 Best NHL Players of All Time
Nicknamed The Golden Jet, Bobby Hull had a unique combination of precision and speed. The legend of his slap shot will live forever in the world of ice hockey since it was clocked at 118 miles per hour. Meanwhile, his skating speed was estimated to be around 30 miles per hour.
Bobby Hull spent most of his career with Chicago Blackhawks in 1950s and 1960s before he moved on to play for Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers. He reached or passed the 50-goal mark in five seasons, getting to 58 goals in the 1968-69 season. Hull was also a 12-time All-Star, two-time MVP and a Stanley Cup Champion in 1960. His son Brett Hull also had an illustrious NHL career.
The gritty, but gifted center still ranks third in all-time points (1,887) and second in all-time points in the playoffs (295). Messier reached 100 points in a season six times during his career that was spent with Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks.
In addition to these record-breaking numbers, Messier was a true leader wherever he played. He won six Stanley Cups – five with the Oilers and one with the Rangers. He was also the MVP of the league two times and earned an All-Star berth 15 times, making him one of the best NHL players of all time.
The only active player still in the league on our list of the best NHL players of all time, Alex Ovechkin is a clinical scorer who led the league in goals scored five times in his career. Ovie made his NHL debut in 2005 for Washington Capitals and he has been with the same franchise ever since.
In addition to the scoring records we mentioned, his career achievements include eleven All-Star berths, three regular season MVP awards, and one championship ring in 2018 for which he also received the playoffs MVP award. All in all, Ovechkin can already go down in history as one of the greatest NHL players and his career is still far from being over.
Jaromir Jagr is the highest-scoring European player of all time, and his individual accolades are nothing to scoff at. The five-time (and counting) scorer\’s league champion has three Lester Pearson Awards for most outstanding player in a season as well as one Hart Memorial Trophy Award which goes out to best NHL Player each year.
The two-time NHL champion even took a three-year break from the NHL, or he would be close to 800 career goals in his career. Still, he is widely considered as one of the two best big men in the history of the league, next to Mario Lemieux.
After many years of being an NHL player, Jean Béliveau finally retired in 1971. He played for a total of 20 seasons and won 10 Stanley Cups along the way, becoming one of only 47 players to have 1,200 points or more (1,219).
This is not all he accomplished; twice was awarded with the Hart Trophy as well as winning one Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVPs. In addition to these rewards Beliveau also made 13 All Star teams in his career and he will certainly go down as one of the best NHL players of all time.
Maurice “The Rocket” Richard rewrote the record books when he became not only one of just four people who have scored 500 goals over their career but also the first person to score 50 times in a single season.
As if that weren\’t enough already, the right-winger also won 8 NHL titles from 1944 through 1960 including 3 consecutive titles at two different points. He was also awarded the Hart Trophy in 1947. In his honor, the trophy for the leading goals-scorer in an NHL regular season is named the Maurice Richard Trophy since 1999.
It\’s hard to find a more iconic and legendary hockey player than Bobby Orr. The first offensive defenseman in the league’s history, he become the only player ever to lead the league for points as a D man in 1970 with 120 points.
But Orr’s offensive skills were just a tiny part of his arsenal since he also won eight Norris Trophies for being the top defenseman in the NHL. He also won the Stanley Cup twice, both times adding the Conn Smythe Trophy to his collection, which made him the first player to win the playoff MVP award twice.
Even before he came to the NHL, Mario Lemieux was already a star. With a unique physical frame and otherworldly talent, Lemieux was truly a one-of-a-kind player from the very start of his professional career. He came agonizingly close to being the only player next to Wayne Gretzky to reach 200 points in one season in 1989, but fell short by one point in the end.
The best center in the history put up too many records to list here and won many awards, including two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, two Conn Smythe Trophies, and three Hart Memorial Trophies. Unfortunately, his career was also marred by injuries and other health issues, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The Detroit Red Wings legend played 25 seasons for the franchise, during which he won four Stanley Cups. He was also named the league MVP on six occasions, he was the goal-scoring leader five times, and he notched 19 All-Star appearances as well – a resume worthy of one of the best NHL players of all time.
Gordie Howe is second in all-time goals scored with 801 goals in the league and he is fourth in points with 1,850 points. He is also the all-time leader for games played with 1,767 games in the NHL. Howe also played in the newly formed WHA for a few seasons, alongside his sons Mark and Marty. All in all, Gordie Howe rightfully earned his nickname Mr. Hockey.
Known as the Great One, Wayne Gretzky is widely regarded as the best NHL player of all time – and he has the stats to back that up. He is the all-time leader in points, goals, and assists. In fact, his 1,963 assists are more than any other player has combined points and assists.
Gretzky is the only player in history who reached or surpassed the 200-point mark in a single season and he did it four times! He won the Stanley Cup four times, was the top scorer in the league ten times, the MVP nine times, and he was the playoffs MVP two times as well.