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Ranking the NHL's 100 Greatest Players: Nos. 40-21


Throughout the month of September, James Bisson and a cast of editors from theScore will share their rankings of the greatest players, teams, and moments in the 100-year history of the National Hockey League. Our final list focuses on the greatest players (Note: "All-Star" refers to end-of-season All-Star team voting and not to appearances in the All-Star Game):

100-81 | 80-61 | 60-41 | 40-21 | 20-1

Voter List

  • James Bisson, National Sports Editor
  • Joe Ross, Vice-President, Content
  • Josh Wegman, NHL News Editor
  • Sean O'Leary, NHL News Editor
  • Esten McLaren, NHL News Editor
  • Craig Hagerman, NHL News Editor
  • Lanny Foster, Senior Social Media Editor
  • Michael Amato, Senior News Editor
  • Lucas Casaletto, News Editor
  • Arun Srinivasan, News Editor
  • Adam Sarson, Operations Lead

40. Mike Gartner

GP G A P +/- PIM
1432 708 627 1335 67 1159

Gartner was never a superstar and never contended for a major award - but he was the most reliable goal-scorer of his or any other era. Gartner scored 30 or more goals in each of his first 15 NHL seasons, the longest such streak in history. Combine that reliability with a truly epic mustache, and how could we not rank him here?

39. Eric Lindros

GP G A P +/- PIM
760 372 493 865 215 1398

Hockey fans can only imagine what kind of incredible stats Lindros could have accumulated had injuries not derailed his career after 13 seasons. In his prime, Lindros was an unstoppable force, crunching opponents and racking up points at will. He made two All-Star teams and won the Hart Trophy in 1995, while his 1.14 career PPG average ranks 17th all time entering this season.

38. Larry Robinson

GP G A P +/- PIM
1384 208 750 958 730 793

Robinson's contributions to the Canadiens' five consecutive Stanley Cup titles in the late 1970s were significant; Big Bird won a Norris Trophy during the Habs' second Cup run in that span, and he captured the Conn Smythe Trophy the following year with a league-best 21 playoff points. He claimed six championship rings in total, and his career plus-minus rating is the best in NHL history.

37. Adam Oates

GP G A P +/- PIM
1337 341 1079 1420 35 415

Oates originally made a name for himself as Brett Hull's stubby-bladed playmaker of "Hull and Oates" fame - but he was even better out of Hull's shadow, going on to lead the league in assists three times following his time in St. Louis. Despite that success - and despite his career assist total ranking seventh in history - Oates made just one end-of-season All-Star team.

36. Peter Forsberg

GP G A P +/- PIM
708 249 636 885 238 690

As good as Lindros was during his shortened career, Forsberg - who was sent to Quebec in the deal that brought The Big E to Philadelphia - was a little better. And in fewer games, too. Like Lindros, Forsberg won a Hart Trophy with 106 points in 2002-03. Unlike Lindros, he captured a pair of Stanley Cup titles with the Avalanche, finishing with 171 points in 151 playoff games.

35. Dale Hawerchuk

GP G A P +/- PIM
1188 518 891 1409 -92 730

Another player whose performances in the 1980s were largely overshadowed, Hawerchuk was one of the most brilliant offensive centers of his time. Yet, six 100-point efforts in his first seven seasons earned him just one All-Star nod along with the Calder Trophy in 1982. He did, however, finish runner-up to Wayne Gretzky in Hart Trophy voting with 130 points in 1984-85.

34. Jari Kurri

GP G A P +/- PIM
1251 601 797 1398 298 545

As gifted as Kurri was - and trust us, he was one of the greatest wingers of his time - it didn't hurt that he spent much of his prime alongside The Great One. He was a five-time All-Star, won the Lady Byng in 1984-85, and led the league with 68 goals a season later. While his production tailed off after age 33, Kurri still left the game as the highest-scoring Finnish-born player in history.

33. Teemu Selanne

GP G A P +/- PIM
1451 684 773 1457 95 650

It's only fitting that a man who idolized Kurri as a youngster would be the one to break his record for scoring among Finnish-born players. And that's not all Selanne did - not by a long shot. His 76 goals as a rookie will likely never be challenged by another first-year player, and he left the NHL in 2014 with four All-Star nods, two Rocket Richard Trophies, and the 15th-most points ever.

32. Terry Sawchuk

971 447 330 172 2.51 103

The early 1950s belonged to Sawchuk. He won three Vezina Trophies during a four-year run with the powerhouse Red Wings, led the league in victories in each of his first five seasons, and paced the NHL in goals-against average twice and shutouts three times in that span. He added a fourth Vezina in 1965 - at age 35 - and still ranks sixth all time in wins among netminders.

31. Denis Potvin

GP G A P +/- PIM
1060 310 742 1052 460 1356

Long before the Islanders became one of the most feared dynasties in hockey history, Potvin was their heart and soul. The sensational two-way defenseman won three Norris Trophies in a four-year stretch prior to the Isles' Stanley Cup dominance and finished with six All-Star berths plus a runner-up showing in the 1975-76 Hart Trophy race. His 310 goals rank fifth all time among blue-liners.

30. Stan Mikita

GP G A P +/- PIM
1394 541 926 1467 159 1270

In a five-year window between Gordie Howe's and Maurice Richard's primes and the emergence of the Bruins' deadly Orr-Esposito tandem, Mikita was the best player in the NHL. The native of Sokolce, Czechoslovakia, racked up four scoring titles from 1963-68 and won two Hart Trophies. He finished with eight All-Star nods, but just one Stanley Cup (1961).

29. Jacques Plante

837 437 246 145 2.38 82

It might not be the greatest five-year stretch of goaltending in NHL history, but it's close. Plante was on another planet from 1955-60, going 185-77-55 with a 2.14 GAA, 37 shutouts, and five Vezina Trophies. He added a rare Hart-Vezina double two years later, and finished as the top NHL goalie seven times. He has the seventh-highest win total in league history.

28. Jean Beliveau

GP G A P +/- PIM
1125 507 712 1219 -- 1029

Beliveau remains one of the most beloved players in Canadiens history, and owns a rare double-double with 10 All-Star nods and 10 Stanley Cups on his Hall of Fame resume. He won the Hart Trophy in 1956 with a league-best 88 points and repeated the feat eight years later. He also ranks second all time in franchise points with Montreal, just 27 behind Guy Lafleur.

27. Brett Hull

GP G A P +/- PIM
1269 741 650 1391 23 458

Only a handful of players in NHL history have lit the lamp 70 or more times in a season - and Hull is one of just three to have done it more than once. Joining Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in any category is a big deal, and so was Hull's 86-goal 1990-91 campaign, which ranks as the third-highest single-season tally ever. Hull was a deserved Hart Trophy winner that season.

26. Ron Francis

GP G A P +/- PIM
1731 549 1249 1798 -10 979

As the highest-scoring player in history to never win a Hart Trophy, it may shock younger fans to know that Francis ranks behind only Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier, and Gordie Howe in career points. Francis won three Lady Byng Trophies while recording 100 or more points three times and leading the league in assists twice. And he remained productive into his late 30s.

25. Bryan Trottier

GP G A P +/- PIM
1279 524 901 1425 452 912

Trottier and Mike Bossy were the offensive spark plugs in the Islanders' dynasty of the late 1970s and early '80s. Trottier won the Hart Trophy in 1978-79 with career bests in assists (87), points (134) and plus-minus (76), and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy the following year. He added his fifth and sixth Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in the early 1990s.

24. Bobby Hull

GP G A P +/- PIM
1063 610 560 1170 105 640

"The Golden Jet" terrorized opposing netminders for more than a decade, racking up seven goal-scoring titles while becoming the first player in history to score more than 50 goals in a season. He won the Hart Trophy twice (1965 and '66), claimed three scoring crowns, and was named to 12 All-Star teams. He added 303 goals and 638 points in 411 World Hockey Association games.

23. Ken Dryden

397 258 57 74 2.24 46

When people talk about players they wish had played longer, Bossy, Orr, and Lemieux often come to mind. But what about Dryden? Despite playing just seven full NHL seasons, the lanky netminder scooped up five Vezina Trophies, six All-Star nods, a Calder Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and six Stanley Cups. Had he played four or five more seasons, he might be considered the best ever.

22. Guy Lafleur

GP G A P +/- PIM
1126 560 793 1353 453 399

Those Canadiens teams of the mid-to-late 1970s were a star-studded bunch - and Lafleur shone brightest of all. The speedy winger won three consecutive scoring titles - averaging 131 points per season over that span - while copping back-to-back Hart Trophies in 1977 and '78. He's the Canadiens' all-time scoring leader, and finished with six All-Star nods.

21. Alex Ovechkin

GP G A P +/- PIM
921 558 477 1035 84 617

Ovechkin should continue to climb this list into his 30s - if he remains in the NHL. One of the most gifted goal-scorers in history, he already has six Rocket Richard Trophies, three Hart Trophies, and 11 All-Star berths - and he just turned 32. Of any player in history, Ovechkin has the best shot at unseating Gretzky atop the all-time goals list.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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