NHL The Best NHL Players of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
190.2k votes 10.6k voters 134.3k views 516 items

List Rules 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!

1
4,293 1,393
Wayne Gretzky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Wayne Gretzky Centerman

2
2,868 945
Gordie Howe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Gordie Howe Right wing

3
3,492 1,313
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bobby Orr Defenseman

4
3,455 1,130
Mario Lemieux is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Mario Lemieux Centerman

5
1,848 945
Maurice Richard is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Maurice Richard Right wing

6
1,722 1,061
Bobby Hull is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bobby Hull Left Wing

7
2,386 973
Jaromír Jágr is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Jaromír Jágr Right wing

8
1,492 982
Ray Bourque is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Ray Bourque Defenseman

9
1,439 909
Mike Bossy is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Mike Bossy Right wing

10
1,769 917
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Nicklas Lidström Defenseman

11
1,752 1,159
Dominik Hašek is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Dominik Hašek Goaltender

12
1,562 964
Martin Brodeur is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Martin Brodeur Goaltender

13
1,361 695
Jean Béliveau is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Jean Béliveau Centerman

14
1,291 601
Guy Lafleur is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Guy Lafleur Right wing

The Best NHL Teams of All Time

15
1,061 667
Phil Esposito is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Phil Esposito Centerman

16
1,448 693
Mark Messier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Mark Messier Centerman

17
1,227 721
Joe Sakic is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

18
1,489 779
Patrick Roy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Patrick Roy Goaltender

19
1,062 769
Stan Mikita is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Stan Mikita Centerman, Forward

20
1,648 673
Steve Yzerman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Steve Yzerman Centerman

21
1,027 659
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Paul Coffey Defenseman

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22
1,924 1,094
Sidney Crosby is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
BlakeMangone added Sidney Crosby Centerman

23
1,005 795
Pavel Bure is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

24
943 581
Marcel Dionne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Marcel Dionne Centerman

25
1,328 893
Alexander Ovechkin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Scott H added Alexander Ovechkin Left Wing

26
848 550
Terry Sawchuk is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Terry Sawchuk Goaltender

27
1,176 707
Pavel Datsyuk is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Harrison1 added Pavel Datsyuk Centerman

28
649 502
Glenn Hall is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
gaug66 added Glenn Hall Goaltender

The Best Current NHL Players

29
854 728
Peter Šťastný is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Peter Šťastný Centerman

30
705 533
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Denis Potvin Defenseman

31
814 694
Gilbert Perreault is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Gilbert Perreault Centerman

32
672 507
Bryan Trottier is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Bryan Trottier Right wing, Centerman

33
729 613
Bernie Parent is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bernie Parent Goaltender

34
542 374
Vladislav Tretiak is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Vladislav Tretiak Goaltender

35
605 485
Darryl Sittler is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Darryl Sittler Centerman

The Creepiest Sports Mascots

36
721 378
Jari Kurri is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Jari Kurri

37
574 452
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Guy Lapointe Defenseman

38
689 441
Bobby Clarke is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Bobby Clarke Centerman

39
543 468
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Börje Salming Defenseman

40
601 398
Mike Modano is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

41
583 505
Adam Oates is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Adam Oates Centerman

42
519 391
Pat LaFontaine is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Pat LaFontaine Centerman

The Best Defensemen in NHL History

43
521 421
Viacheslav Fetisov is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Viacheslav Fetisov Defenseman

44
578 514
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Eddie Shore Defenseman

45
533 339
Ron Francis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Ron Francis Centerman

46
443 305
Dale Hawerchuk is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Dale Hawerchuk Centerman

47
471 428
Syl Apps is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Syl Apps Centerman

48
593 329
Jacques Plante is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Jacques Plante Goaltender

49
539 492
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
ConnorMurphy1 added Erik Karlsson Defenseman

50
788 452
Evgeni Malkin is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
doremifasola added Evgeni Malkin Centerman