The Best NHL Players of All Time

106k votes 5.1k voters 88k views 366 items tags f p @

List Criteria: NHL players only.

The best NHL players of all time are undoubtably the most talented and most decorated hockey players ever to take the ice in the National Hockey League. These NHL greats hold countless spots in the NHL record books, a fan favorites and if they haven't already been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, they surely will be when they are eligible. Plain and simple, these are hockey gods.

Easily earning the title as "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky is arguably among the very elite hockey players ever. Holding NHL records for everything from lifetime goals to the most goals in a season to the most career assists, points and even short-handed goals, there was little Gretzky didn't dominate during his 20 seasons in the National Hockey League.

While Gretzky is "The Great One," he's far from the only great one. Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, is right up there with Gretzky with an impressive hockey career that lasted until he was 52 years of age. Along with other NHL legends like Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mark Messier and Maurice Richard, these hockey greats dominated the league during their time.

Many will follow in the footsteps, or skate strides, of these all-time best NHL players but few will ever reach the level of greatness that these talented men have. Who is your all-time favorite NHL star? How would you rank these top NHL players of all time? Tell us by voting for your favorites below, adding any that are missed or even re-ranking this list of the best NHL players of all time below. Looking for more detailed rankings by position? Check out the best NHL defensemen of all time and the best hockey goaltenders of all time rankings too!
Collection Photo: user uploaded image
  • 206 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 1,839
    - 657
    Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Bobby Orr Defenseman

  2. 2
    + 1,676
    - 487


    Centerman

    ;
  3. 3
    + 1,423
    - 422


    Right wing

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,142
    - 712
    Wayne Gretzky is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Wayne Gretzky Centerman

  5. 5
    + 1,078
    - 403
    Maurice Richard is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Maurice Richard Right wing

  6. 6
    + 959
    - 384

    added by klubibar
    Goaltender

    ;
  7. 7
    + 1,002
    - 469


    Left Wing

    ;
  8. 8
    + 799
    - 376
    Ray Bourque is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Ray Bourque Defenseman

  9. 9
    + 809
    - 321

    added by klubibar
    Centerman

    ;
  10. 10
    + 803
    - 417
    Mike Bossy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

    added by klubibar
    Mike Bossy Right wing

  11. 11
    + 940
    - 431


    Defenseman

    ;
  12. 12
    + 682
    - 340

    added by klubibar
    Centerman, Forward

    ;
  13. 13
    + 560
    - 270


    ;
  14. 14
    + 369
    - 157

    added by gaug66
    Goaltender

    ;
  15. 15
    + 567
    - 320


    Centerman

    ;
  16. 16
    + 546
    - 315


    Centerman

    ;
  17. 17
    + 494
    - 254


    Goaltender

    ;
  18. 18
    + 668
    - 347


    ;
  19. 19
    + 562
    - 270


    Centerman

    ;
  20. 20
    + 403
    - 217

    added by klubibar
    Defenseman

    ;
  21. 21
    + 654
    - 380

    added by Harrison1
    Centerman

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,086
    - 660


    Right wing

    ;
  23. 23
    + 205
    - 51
    Vladislav Tretiak is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Vladislav Tretiak Goaltender

  24. 24
    + 382
    - 204
    Darryl Sittler is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Darryl Sittler Centerman

  25. 25
    + 350
    - 178


    Defenseman

    ;
  26. 26
    + 305
    - 155

    added by klubibar
    Defenseman

    ;
  27. 27
    + 728
    - 654
    Martin Brodeur is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Martin Brodeur Goaltender

  28. 28
    + 531
    - 316
    Phil Esposito is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

    added by klubibar
    Phil Esposito Centerman

  29. 29
    + 652
    - 364


    Right wing

    ;
  30. 30
    + 297
    - 135


    Defenseman

    ;
  31. 31
    + 371
    - 205


    Centerman

    ;
  32. 32
    + 298
    - 162

    added by gaug66
    Goaltender

    ;
  33. 33
    + 338
    - 193

    added by gaug66

    ;
  34. 34
    + 399
    - 192


    ;
  35. 35
    + 295
    - 165

    added by BostonBruins
    Centerman, Forward

    ;
  36. 36
    + 323
    - 179


    Centerman

    ;
  37. 37
    + 316
    - 183


    Centerman

    ;
  38. 38
    + 319
    - 214
    Syl Apps is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Syl Apps Centerman

  39. 39
    + 248
    - 156
    Joe Malone is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Joe Malone Centerman

  40. 40
    + 202
    - 124

    added by ConnorMurphy1
    Defenseman

    ;
  41. 41
    + 298
    - 147
    Ted Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Ted Kennedy Centerman

  42. 42
    + 370
    - 289

    added by klubibar
    Defenseman

    ;
  43. 43
    + 396
    - 277

    added by klubibar
    Centerman

    ;
  44. 44
    + 187
    - 101

    added by ConnorMurphy1
    Defenseman

    ;
  45. 45
    + 361
    - 300

    often listed & added by klubibar
    Right wing, Centerman

    ;
  46. 46
    + 156
    - 64

    added by ConnorMurphy1
    Goaltender

    ;
  47. 47
    + 217
    - 110
    Max Bentley is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Max Bentley Centerman

  48. 48
    + 497
    - 404


    Defenseman

    ;
  49. 49
    + 293
    - 145


    ;
  50. 50
    + 846
    - 526
    Steve Yzerman is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time


    Steve Yzerman Centerman

367 +

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