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Breaking Down the Top 10 US-Born Hockey Players of All Time

Photo Credit: nhl.com

As the NHL shut down is still in place, Vinnie Plue and I decided to kick things off by comparing our Top 10 American hockey players. We plan to layout our Top 10 hockey players from the major nationalities that occupy the NHL. Once the NHL returns as normal, Vinnie and I will be the first to report all things NHL to you such as trades, injury reports, contract extensions, and much more. With that being said, let’s get to it. 

 

Ethan’s Top 10 US-born Hockey Players of all time:

#10. Jonathan Quick

Based on his statistics and the many sets of hardware he now owns, Jonathan Quick goes down as the best American born goalie to play the game. Born in Milford, Connecticut, the 6’1, 218-pound goalie was drafted 72nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2005. Quick saw his first NHL experience in 2007, and never looked back from there. He posted one of the most remarkable playoff runs of all time in 2012, helping the Los Angeles Kings capture their first Stanley Cup. He went an unbelievable 16-4, with a .946 SV% and a 1.41 goals-against average, running away with the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process. He also led all playoff goaltenders in shutouts in three straight campaigns, with three that postseason, three the following postseason, and two more in 2014, where he would capture his second Stanley Cup. Aged 34 now, it looks as his career may be slowing down due to extensive overuse in his first few seasons, but he certainly should be admired for his accomplishments.

#9. Pat LaFontaine 

LaFontaine was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent his career playing for only New York State-based teams. The 5’10, 180 pound Center was drafted 3rd overall by the New York Islanders in 1983.  From 1983-1991, LaFontaine collected 266 goals for the Islanders before taking his game elsewhere to Buffalo. He became the captain of the Sabres from 1992. LaFontaine left the Sabres in 1997 where he finished his 865 game career with the New York Rangers. LaFontaine finished his career with 468 goals, and 545 assists putting a strong mark on his career timeline with 1,013 points. Pat LaFontaine also won the Bill Masterton trophy in 1995.

 

 

#8. Auston Matthews

Matthews was born in San Ramon, CA, and was drafted 1st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016. Although some may say it is a “stretch” to place him in the all-time best players, I am going to take a risk which I believe will certainly pay off. The 6’3”, 220 pound Center has acquired 285 points in nearly 4 seasons. Matthews is only 22 years old. This man will not retire without racking in a good set of hardware, in which I believe he will lift the Stanley Cup before he hangs up the skates.

 

#7. Keith Tkachuk 

Keith Tkachuk was drafted 19th overall in 1990 by the Winnipeg Jets. Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, the 6’2” 235 pound Left Winger spent 18 seasons in the NHL where he played for the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, and Atlanta Thrashers before retiring in 2010. Tkachuk played in 1201 regular season NHL games where he collected 538 goals and 527 assists for a total of 1,065 points. He also acquired a large number of penalty minutes in the regular season where he sits at 2,219. His sons Brady and Matthew also play in the NHL. This is why Keith Tkachuk has landed #7 on my greatest US-born hockey players list.

 

#6. Neal Broten

Neal Broten was drafted 42nd overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1979. The 5’9”, 185 pound Center has quite the resume. Over a span of 17 years, Broten played for 4 NHL teams, and also the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team. Collecting a gold medal with Team USA in one of the most historic hockey games ever was only the start for Broten. He went on to win a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1998, was named a 2-time All-Star, was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, and also had his lucky jersey number “7” retired by the Dallas Stars in 1998. Broten was also voted by the fans as the best hockey player to ever play in Minnesota. This is why Broten landed a spot on my US all-time hockey players.

#5. Brian Leetch

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Brian Leetch was drafted 9th overall by the New York Rangers in 1986. Leetch played 18 seasons in the NHL, mainly for the Rangers before finishing his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003-2004, and the Boston Bruins in 2005-2006. The 6 foot, 185 pound defenseman appeared in 1,205 career NHL games where he notched a stellar 1,028 points. This is an unbelievable statistic for a defenseman. Leetch’s accomplishments were seen through the number of awards received throughout his career. The Rangers captain was selected to 11 all-star games, was a Stanley Cup Champion in 1994, and also holds a large number of records for the New York Rangers. His number “2” was also retired by the Rangers on February 24, 2008. It is safe to say that Leetch is one of the greatest defenseman of all time, and this is why he sits on my list at #5. 

#4. Jeremy Roenick

Jeremy Roenick was drafted 8th overall in 1988 by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Boston, Massachusetts native spent 18 NHL seasons moving around and playing with the Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks. Roenick is most known for having 3 consecutive 100 point seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. Roenick appeared in 1,363 career NHL games where he tallied 503 goals and 703 assists for a total of 1,216 points. The 6’1”, 201 pound Center is known as one of the greatest American’s to play the sport and is still talked about today as one of the best.

#3. Chris Chelios

Chris Chelios was born in Chicago, IL, and was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 40th overall in the 1981 draft. He is well known as being one of the longest-tenured NHL players, appearing in 26 seasons between 1984-2010. Chelios spent his time between the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and the Atlanta Thrashers. He lifted the cup once with the Canadiens, and twice with the Red Wings. He captured the Norris Trophy 3 times in his career as well. Chelios goes down as the greatest US-born NHL defenseman in history securing his spot in my top 3.

#2. Mike Modano

Mike Modano is a native of Livonia, Michigan, and was drafted 1st overall in 1988 by the Minnesota North Stars. Modano spent 22 seasons split between the Minnesota North Stars before they became the Dallas Stars and then finished up his career in his hometown of Michigan with the Detroit Red Wings. He helped the Dallas Stars raise the Stanley Cup in 1999. Modano was the Dallas Stars captain between 2003-2006. He also holds the US-born records in goals (561), and points (1,374). His jersey number “9” was retired by the Dallas Stars in 2014, the same year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. A great career for sure and this is why he is placed at #2 on my list.

Honorable mentions:

-Joe Mullen

-T.J Oshie

-Zach Parise

#1. Patrick Kane

The choice between Patrick Kane and Mike Modano was not an easy one for me, but I believe that Patrick Kane is the best US-born hockey player of all time. Patrick Kane, the native of Buffalo, New York, was drafted 1st overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007. In his first season at the age of 19, Kane appeared in all 82 games where he amassed 72 points. It was all uphill from there. Kane has spent his entire career with Chicago, where he has lifted the Stanley Cup 3 times, along with the Calder Memorial trophy (2008), the Conn Smythe Trophy (2013), the Art Ross Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award, and the Hart Memorial Trophy all in 2016. On January 19, 2020, at the age of 31, Patrick Kane became the youngest US-born player to reach 1,000 points. He still plays today, and possibly his most memorable moment was scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in OT versus the 2010  Philadelphia Flyers. Patrick Kane’s statistics are only going to get better from here, which is why I made my decision to place him as my #1.

Vinnie’s Top 10 US-born Hockey Players of all time:

#10. Pat LaFontaine

Born in St. Louis, MO, USA, the right-handed Center was drafted in the 1st Round, 3rd overall by the New York Islanders. LaFontaine spent his entire career in New York playing for the Islanders from 1983 to 1991, he then took his talents to Buffalo New York playing with the Sabres from 1991 to 1997. He then finished off his career with the New York Rangers, ending with 865 games played, 468 goals, and 545 assists totaling an impressive point total of 1,013. This in my opinion firmly places him in the top 10.

#9. Auston Matthews

I’m basing this pick off of the player I believe Matthews will become. Matthews, born in San Ramon, CA, USA, was drafted 1st overall in 2016 in what was considered a “stacked” draft class. In his first game in the NHL he scored 4 goals, which is almost unheard of. Since then he has led the Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs in both of his years in the NHL. He hasn’t lifted the cup just yet, but I find it hard to believe that Matthews will retire without earning several pieces of hardware.

#8. Joe Mullen

Mullen, Born in New York City, entered the league in 1981 with the St. Louis Blues. He went on to play for multiple teams winning 3 Stanley Cups, 2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and 1 with the Calgary Flames. Mullen finished his career with 1,062 games played, 502 goals, 561 assists totaling 1,063 points. He also notched a plus-minus of +167 earning him a spot as one of the top 10 best American hockey players to ever play the game.

#7. Brian Leetch

Brian Leetch was born in Corpus Christi, TX, USA. He was drafted 9th overall in the 1st round by the New York Rangers. The 2 time Norris Trophy winner also notched a Conn Smythe trophy when he won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994. On a team with Mark Messier, winning the Conn Smythe has made it easy to say he’s one of the best American Defenseman of all time.

#6. Keith Tkachuk

Keith Tkachuk was born in Melrose, MA, USA. He was drafted in the 1st round, 19th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1991. Keith went on to play with Winnipeg until 1996 when he took his talents to Phoenix Arizona, he also played for the St. Louis Blues and the Atlanta Thrashers. He finished with 1,201 games played, 538 goals, and 527 assists totaling 1,065 points. He also racked up 2,219 penalty minutes, his sons Matthew and Brady are following in his footsteps.

#5. Jeremy Roenick

JR was born in Boston, MA. He was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1st round going 8th overall. One of the more popular players on the list, Roenick put up 3 consecutive 100 point seasons notching back to back 50 goal seasons with the Blackhawks. He then went on to play for the Phoenix Coyotes, the Philadelphia Flyers, the LA Kings, and the San Jose Sharks. JR finished his career with 1,363 games played, 513 goals and 703 assists totaling in 1,216 points. Still today Roenick is one of the most talked-about American hockey players of all time and has the numbers to back it up.

#4. Chris Chelios

The 3 time Stanley Cup champion was born in Chicago, IL, USA. In 1982 he was drafted 40th overall in the 2nd round to the Montreal Canadiens. In his time in the NHL he lifted the Stanley Cup 3 times, once with Montreal, and twice with the Detroit Red Wings. During his career he won the Norris trophy 3 times, solidifying him in the top 10, making him one of the best American defensemen of all time. He was always a presence on the ice.

#3. Brett Hull

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Brett Hull was born in Ontario” yes he was but he was considered an American hockey player because his mother was from the United States. Hull made the decision to play for the United States Olympic team and was a star stand out. Surprisingly Hull wasn’t drafted until the 6th round to the Calgary Flames. Hull went on to win the Ted Lindsay trophy, the Hart Trophy, the Lady Byng Trophy, and 2 Stanley Cups. He is the American goal leader and points leader with 741 goals and 1,391 points.

#2. Mike Modano

Coming towards the end of the list, I had to debate with myself on whether or not Modano would make it as THE best American hockey player of all time. Mike Modano was born in Livonia, MI, USA. He was drafted 1st overall in the 1988 draft to the Minnesota North Stars. As a first overall pick, he did not disappoint putting up 75 points in just his first season. He went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in the 1998-1999 season. He finished with 1,374 points and is noticed as not only one of the best American hockey players of all time but in the conversation as one of the all-time greats in the NHL.

Honorable mentions:

-Bobby Ryan

-T.J Oshie

-Zach Parise

#1. Patrick Kane

Patrick Kane, in my opinion, is the clear choice for the best American hockey player of all time. Kane, born in Buffalo, NY, USA, was drafted 1st overall by the Chicago Blackhawks and still plays with them currently. Kane has won just about every piece of hardware you can win. He’s won the Art Ross, the Ted Lindsay, the Hart Trophy, the Conn Smythe award, the Calder Memorial trophy, and is a 3 time Stanley cup winner. Kane has multiple series ending goals under his belt, one of them being The Stanley Cup game-winner against the Flyers. He’s had 2 100+ point seasons and doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon already having 1,000+ points at 31 years old. He may not be the points leader, but he’s well known for having one of the best pairs of hands the game has ever seen. For what he lacks in size, he makes up for with skill being one of the most dominant offensive players in the game today.

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