Sports

The Best NHL Players of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated May 6, 2020 302.9k votes 17.9k voters 174.3k views 502 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
Mario Lemieux is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Centerman
2
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Defenseman
3
Gordie Howe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Right wing
4
Wayne Gretzky is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Centerman
5
Maurice Richard is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Right wing
6
Jean Béliveau is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Centerman
7
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Defenseman
8
Guy Lafleur is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Right wing
9
Jaromír Já... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Right wing
10
Bobby Hull is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Left Wing
11
Sidney Crosby is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
BlakeMangone added Centerman
12
Mark Messier is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Centerman
13
Dominik Hašek is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Goaltender
14
Joe Sakic is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
15
Martin Brodeur is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Goaltender
16
Patrick Roy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Goaltender
17
Pavel Datsyuk is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Harrison1 added Centerman
18
Ray Bourque is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Defenseman
19
Steve Yzerman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Centerman
20
Phil Esposito is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Centerman
21
Alexander Ovechkin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Scott H added Left Wing
22
Mike Bossy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Right wing
23
Terry Sawchuk is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
Goaltender
24
Jari Kurri is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added
25
Teemu Selänne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NHL Players of All Time
klubibar added Right wing