NHL The Best NHL Players of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
173k votes 9.6k voters 127.7k views 513 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!

list ordered by

1
3,881 1,239
Wayne Gretzky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Wayne Gretzky Centerman

2
3,175 1,165
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bobby Orr Defenseman

3
2,559 820
Gordie Howe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Gordie Howe Right wing

4
3,118 992
Mario Lemieux is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Mario Lemieux Centerman

5
1,693 818
Maurice Richard is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Maurice Richard Right wing

6
1,579 914
Bobby Hull is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bobby Hull Left Wing

7
1,620 1,002
Dominik Hašek is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Dominik Hašek Goaltender

8
1,353 842
Ray Bourque is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Ray Bourque Defenseman

9
2,192 870
Jaromír Jágr is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Jaromír Jágr Right wing

10
1,298 804
Mike Bossy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Mike Bossy Right wing

11
1,606 818
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Nicklas Lidström Defenseman

12
1,245 622
Jean Béliveau is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Jean Béliveau Centerman

13
1,371 879
Martin Brodeur is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Martin Brodeur Goaltender

14
1,160 531
Guy Lafleur is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Guy Lafleur Right wing

A Random Collection of 30 Hilarious YouTube Comments

15
960 584
Phil Esposito is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Phil Esposito Centerman

16
1,101 634
Joe Sakic is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

17
1,285 622
Mark Messier is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Mark Messier Centerman

18
971 685
Stan Mikita is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Stan Mikita Centerman, Forward

19
1,316 707
Patrick Roy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Patrick Roy Goaltender

20
921 693
Pavel Bure is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

21
916 587
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Paul Coffey Defenseman

The Best NHL Arenas

22
1,468 627
Steve Yzerman is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Steve Yzerman Centerman

23
866 511
Marcel Dionne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Marcel Dionne Centerman

24
1,661 965
Sidney Crosby is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
BlakeMangone added Sidney Crosby Centerman

25
768 484
Terry Sawchuk is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Terry Sawchuk Goaltender

26
596 448
Glenn Hall is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
gaug66 added Glenn Hall Goaltender

27
650 478
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Denis Potvin Defenseman

28
802 671
Peter Šťastný is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Peter Šťastný Centerman

The Most Violent Thugs in NHL History

29
763 643
Gilbert Perreault is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Gilbert Perreault Centerman

30
1,058 645
Pavel Datsyuk is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Harrison1 added Pavel Datsyuk Centerman

31
610 463
Bryan Trottier is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Bryan Trottier Right wing, Centerman

32
669 567
Bernie Parent is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bernie Parent Goaltender

33
471 316
Vladislav Tretiak is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Vladislav Tretiak Goaltender

34
1,050 822
Alexander Ovechkin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Scott H added Alexander Ovechkin Left Wing

35
559 439
Darryl Sittler is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Darryl Sittler Centerman

The Best Kinds of Zero Calorie Soda

36
664 338
Jari Kurri is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Jari Kurri

37
535 410
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Guy Lapointe Defenseman

38
509 420
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Börje Salming Defenseman

39
484 372
Viacheslav Fetisov is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Viacheslav Fetisov Defenseman

40
547 472
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Eddie Shore Defenseman

41
618 403
Bobby Clarke is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Bobby Clarke Centerman

42
538 456
Adam Oates is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Adam Oates Centerman

The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Sports Movies

43
470 351
Pat LaFontaine is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Pat LaFontaine Centerman

44
541 359
Mike Modano is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

45
710 385
Evgeni Malkin is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
doremifasola added Evgeni Malkin Centerman

46
483 422
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
ConnorMurphy1 added Erik Karlsson Defenseman

47
442 392
Syl Apps is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Syl Apps Centerman

48
396 277
Dale Hawerchuk is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Dale Hawerchuk Centerman

49
545 418
Valeri Kharlamov is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

50
473 312
Ron Francis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Ron Francis Centerman