NHL The Best NHL Players of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
194.7k votes 10.9k voters 135.9k views 519 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
4,412 1,423
Wayne Gretzky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Wayne Gretzky Centerman

2
2,941 968
Gordie Howe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Gordie Howe Right wing

3
3,579 1,341
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bobby Orr Defenseman

4
3,549 1,160
Mario Lemieux is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Mario Lemieux Centerman

5
1,879 971
Maurice Richard is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Maurice Richard Right wing

6
1,758 1,090
Bobby Hull is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bobby Hull Left Wing

7
2,443 1,006
Jaromír Jágr is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Jaromír Jágr Right wing

8
1,469 936
Mike Bossy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Mike Bossy Right wing

9
1,526 1,013
Ray Bourque is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Ray Bourque Defenseman

10
1,805 945
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Nicklas Lidström Defenseman

11
1,787 1,190
Dominik Hašek is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Dominik Hašek Goaltender

12
1,606 991
Martin Brodeur is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Martin Brodeur Goaltender

13
1,387 715
Jean Béliveau is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Jean Béliveau Centerman

14
1,320 620
Guy Lafleur is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Guy Lafleur Right wing

15
1,095 687
Phil Esposito is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Phil Esposito Centerman

16
1,483 714
Mark Messier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Mark Messier Centerman

17
1,255 748
Joe Sakic is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

18
1,520 797
Patrick Roy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Patrick Roy Goaltender

19
1,691 687
Steve Yzerman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Steve Yzerman Centerman

20
1,077 794
Stan Mikita is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Stan Mikita Centerman, Forward

21
1,997 1,119
Sidney Crosby is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
BlakeMangone added Sidney Crosby Centerman

22
1,051 679
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Paul Coffey Defenseman

23
1,380 908
Alexander Ovechkin is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Scott H added Alexander Ovechkin Left Wing

24
1,033 812
Pavel Bure is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

25
958 595
Marcel Dionne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Marcel Dionne Centerman

26
868 557
Terry Sawchuk is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Terry Sawchuk Goaltender

27
1,202 719
Pavel Datsyuk is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Harrison1 added Pavel Datsyuk Centerman

28
720 544
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Denis Potvin Defenseman

29
825 703
Gilbert Perreault is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Gilbert Perreault Centerman

30
660 514
Glenn Hall is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
gaug66 added Glenn Hall Goaltender

31
864 742
Peter Šťastný is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Peter Šťastný Centerman

32
684 522
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
737 627
Bernie Parent is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Bernie Parent Goaltender

34
560 384
Vladislav Tretiak is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Vladislav Tretiak Goaltender

35
738 383
Jari Kurri is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Jari Kurri

36
613 493
Darryl Sittler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Darryl Sittler Centerman

37
581 460
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Guy Lapointe Defenseman

38
698 451
Bobby Clarke is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Bobby Clarke Centerman

39
555 479
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Börje Salming Defenseman

40
536 398
Pat LaFontaine is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Pat LaFontaine Centerman

41
538 431
Viacheslav Fetisov is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Viacheslav Fetisov Defenseman

42
591 517
Adam Oates is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Adam Oates Centerman

43
611 412
Mike Modano is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time

44
547 347
Ron Francis is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Ron Francis Centerman

45
459 311
Dale Hawerchuk is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Dale Hawerchuk Centerman

46
586 527
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Eddie Shore Defenseman

47
606 335
Jacques Plante is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Jacques Plante Goaltender

48
802 460
Evgeni Malkin is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
doremifasola added Evgeni Malkin Centerman

49
476 439
Syl Apps is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Syl Apps Centerman

50
553 507
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
ConnorMurphy1 added Erik Karlsson Defenseman