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NHL: Breaking Down the Top 10 Canadian Born Hockey Players of All Time

On this list, Ethan and I will give our picks for the Top 10 All Time Canadian players. It’s no secret that hockey is Canada’s game. Over the years, they have produced some of the best players to ever step on the ice on both sides of the puck. This list is tough, because the best at every position, is arguably occupied by a Canadian. I came up with my picks not only based off of stats, but also by the dominance each player showed each season. With that being said, here are our picks.

Vinnie’s #10

Ray Bourque

Career Stats: 1,612 GP, 410 goals, 1,169 assists, 1,579 points

Drafted by the Bruins in 1979 (1st round 8th overall) Bourque spent 20 seasons with the Bruins before requesting to be traded in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Avalanche involving forward Brian Rolston, and Dave Andreychuk. The 5 time Norris trophy winners decision paid off as he finally won the Stanley Cup he spent his career working towards.

Ethan’s #10

Ray Bourque

Career Stats: 1,612 GP, 410 goals, 1,169 assists, 1,579 points

Ray Bourque was drafted 8th overall in 1979 by the Boston Bruins. Born in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, the 5’11”, 219 pound defensman was well known for his ability to produce mainly assists, but could also put the puck in the back of the net. Bourque spent 20 seasons with the Bruins, and finished his final 2 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Along the way, Bourque collected a tremendous amount of hardware. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1980, was a 5-time Norris Trophy winner, won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1982, won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1983, was a 19-time All Star, and also raised the cup with the Avalanche in his final game in 2001 proving to me that he deserves the #10 spot on my list. 

 

Vinnie’s #9

Phil Esposito

Career Stats: 1,282 GP, 717 goals, 873 assists, 1,590 points

Phil Esposito was an absolute goal scoring machine. So much so he racked up 5 scoring titles, 2 Hart Trophies, 2 Stanley Cups and much more hardware. He was best known for being nearly unstoppable in the slot, and finding open ice any chance he could. He held the single season record for goals and points until losing it to Wayne Gretzky a decade later.

Ethan’s #9

Martin Brodeur

Career Stats: 691 (W), 397 (L), 2.24 GAA, .912 SV%, 125 (SO)

Brodeur is easily one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game. Aside from a few others such as Dominic Hasek, and Jaques Plante, Martin Brodeur has a few stats that are untouchable. Brodeur was drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. He has won 3 Stanley Cups, lifted the Calder Memorial Trophy, 4 Vezina Trophies, and 4 William Jennings Trophies. Along with holding career records in wins, losses, shutouts, and games played, Brodeur has also scored 3 times in his career. Marty aso captured 2 gold medals for the Canadian Olympic Team. He played all but 7 games with the Devils, before he announced his retirement during the 2014-2015 season after a short stint with the St. Louis Blues. All of his achievements have led me to place him at #9.

 

Vinnie’s #8

Patrick Roy

Career Stats: 551 (W), 315 (L), 2.54 GAA, .910 SV%

Roy is still to date one of the most clutch goalies to ever strap up the pads. Not only did he win 4 Stanley Cups, he won the Conn Smythe trophy in 3 of them. Winning 3 Vezina Trophies as well, Roy is well known as arguably the best goalies of all time.

Ethan’s #8

Steve Yzerman

Career Stats: 1,514 GP, 692 goals, 1,063 assists, 1,755 points

Steve Yzerman was drafted 4th overall in 1983 by the Detroit Red Wings. Spending his whole career (23 seasons) with the Red Wings, Yzerman was well known for putting up 6 consecutive 100+ point seasons between 1987-1993. Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings at the age of 21 in 1986, where he dressed for more than 1,300 games while wearing the “C.” In his playing career, Yzerman was a 10-time NHL All Star, and a 3-time Stanley Cup Champion. Along the way, he collected 1 Conn Smythe Trophy, 1 Lester B. Pearson Award, 1 Frank J. Selke Trophy, 1 Bill Masterton Trophy, and 1 Lester Patrick Trophy. His jersey number “19” was retired by the Red Wings in 2007. Yzerman also had a very successful international career, capturing numerous medals for Team Canada. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, proving that he deserves a spot on this list.

 

Vinnie’s #7

Joe Sakic

Career Stats: 1,378 GP, 625 goals, 1,016 assists, 1,641 points

Joe Sakic was another Canadian point-getting machine. He ended his career with 6, 100+ point seasons cracking 50+ goals twice. On top is his hall of fame worthy stats, he added plenty of accolades including 2 Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, the Hart Trophy, the Ted Lindsay trophy, and many more. He is currently the GM with the Colorado Avalanche and has rebuilt the franchise making them a force to be reckon with.

Ethan’s #7

Sidney Crosby

Career Stats: 982 GP, 462 goals, 801 assists, 1,263 points

Sidney Crosby was drafted 1st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. “Sid the Kid” is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He has been in the league for 15 seasons so far, and his numbers do not disappoint.  Crosby’s amazing accomplishments have led him to 2 scoring titles, 2 Rocket Richard trophies, 3 Ted Lindsay Awards, 2 Hart Trophies, 3 Stanley Cups, 2 back to back Conn Smythe Trophies, and 2 Olympic Gold Medals where he scored the “Golden Goal” in Canada’s victory over the USA. Many analysts believe that Crosby is the “Modern Day Gretzky,” and that is why he has earned the #7 spot. 

 

Vinnie’s #6

Bobby Orr 

Career Stats: 657 GP, 270 goals, 645 assists, 915 points

Bobby Orr may not have a crazy stat sheet, but he is known for being one of the most dominant defenseman to ever lace up a pair of skates. Throughout his short career, he managed to tack on 2 scoring titles, 8 consecutive Norris Trophies, 3 consecutive Hart Trophies, back to back Stanley Cups, and back to back Conn Smythes for his world famous Stanley Cup winning overtime goal.

Ethan’s #6

Marcel Dionne

Career Stats: 1,348 GP, 731 goals, 1,040 assists, 1,771 points

Dionne was selected 2nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1971. Nicknamed “Little Beaver,” Marcel Dionne spent 18 seasons in the league split between the Red wings, the Los Angeles Kings, and the New York Rangers. The 5’8”, 185 pound Center raised the Lady Byng Trophy twice, lifted the Lester B. Pearson Trophy twice, won the Art Ross Trophy, and appeared in 12 All Star Games. Dionne was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.

 

Vinnie’s #5

Gordie Howe

Career Stats: 1,767 GP, 801 goals, 1,049 assists, 1,850 points

Gordie Howe, or better known as Mr. Hockey, played in the NHL in 5 decades. That’s right, 5 decades, from his teens into his early 50’s. In those 5 decades, he won the Hart Trophy 6 times, and matched it with 6 scoring titles. He also won 4 Stanley Cups. Howe passed away on June 10th, 2016, but still to this day he is known to have changed the game of hockey, and is known as an idol to some of the best hockey players to ever play the game.

Ethan’s #5

Ron Francis

Career Stats: 1,731 GP, 549 goals, 1,249 assists, 1,798 points

Ron Francis’ career began after being drafted by the Hartford Whalers 4th overall in the 1981 draft. Francis spent 23 seasons in the league with 4 teams; The Hartford Whalers, The Pittsburgh Penguins, The Carolina Hurricanes, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over his long career, Francis hoisted 2 Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was the Plus/Minus winner in 1995, won the Lady Byng Trophy 3 times, and lifted the Frank J. Selke Trophy, and he lifted the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2002.Francis currently sits at 2nd all time in assists only trailing Wayne Gretzky. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

 

Vinnie’s #4

Mark Messier

Career Stats: 1,756 GP, 694 goals, 1,193 assists, 1,887 points

Mark Messier was drafted by The Edmonton Oilers in 1979. Believe it or not, he slipped all the way to the 3rd round. Messier touched the heart of New Yorkers during his post 9/11 speech, bringing a small bit of hope in such a heartbreaking time. He led the Rangers to win their last cup in 1994, but tacked on 5 cups before that with the Oilers and the famous Wayne Gretzky at his side. He was rightfully selected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 in a stacked class.

Ethan’s #4

Mario Lemieux 

Career Stats: 915 GP, 690 goals, 1,033 assists, 1,723 points

Mario Lemieux was drafted 1st overall in 1984 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lemieux spent his whole career with the Penguins, but was forced to take 3 seasons off due his diagnosis of cancer. Over the course of his career, Lemieux still racked in a decent amount of hardware, including 2 Stanley cups (plus an additional 3 as an owner of the Penguins), 2 Conn Smythe Trophies, 2 Prince of Wales Trophies, 6 Art Ross Trophies, 4 Ted Lindsay Awards, and 3 Hart Memorial Trophies. He also raised many more awards, and also holds NHL records for the Pittsburgh Penguins in nearly every category. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997, and returned to play in 2000 for 5 more NHL seasons. Lemieux is known as one of the greatest players to ever hold a hockey stick.

 

Vinnie’s #3

Sidney Crosby

Career Stats: 984 GP, 462 goals, 801 assists, 1,263 points

There’s not much to say about Crosby that hasn’t already been said. He’s a generational player who along with Alex Ovechkin, has had the torch passed to him to be the face of the NHL, and he has not disappointed. Crosby has 2 scoring titles, 2 Rocket Richard trophies, 3 Ted Lindsay Awards, 2 Hart Trophies, 3 Stanley Cups (2 of them being back to back), 2 back to back Conn Smythe Trophies, and 2 Olympic Gold Medals where he scored the “Golden Goal” in Canada’s victory over the USA. Wayne Gretzky was quoted saying “He has proven over and over that he’s the best player in the game today, and it seems like the more important the game, the more impact he makes on a game”. It’s safe to say “Sid The Kid” has lived up to the hype.

Ethan’s #3

Gordie Howe

Career Stats: 1,767 GP, 801 goals, 1,049 assists, 1,850 points

Gordie Howe is known today as one of the most complete players to ever play the game. Appearing in 23 All Star games over the course of his very long NHL career, “ Mr. Hockey” won 4 Stanley Cups, 6 Art Ross Trophies, 6 Hart Trophies, and many other awards. Howe played all but one season for the Detroit Red Wings. He appeared in 80 games for the Hartford Whalers at the age of 52. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972, and his greatest memories still live with us today.

 

Vinnie’s #2

Mario Lemieux

Career Stats: 915 GP, 690 goals, 1,033 assists, 1,723 points

There are many who believe Wayne Gretzky’s numbers are considered untouchable. There are also many who believe that if he hadn’t missed so much time due to cancer, Mario could’ve possibly broken Wayne’s records. In his short career, Mario put up Hall of Fame like numbers, including 6 scoring titles, 4 Ted Lindsay Awards, 3 Hart Memorial Trophies, 2 Stanley Cups, and 2 Conn Smythes. Many have said they have never seen anyone play the game the way Mario did, whether it was his laser-point accuracy, his speed, his hockey IQ, and ability to put the puck in the back of the net, Mario was dominant every time he stepped on the ice.

Ethan’s #2

Mark Messier

Career Stats: 1,756 GP, 694 goals, 1,293 assists, 1,887 points

Mark Messier was overlooked by many teams, and was drafted in the 3rd round by the Edmonton Oilers in 1978. Messier certainly made the teams who overlooked him pay. He spent 25 seasons in the NHL, playing for the Oilers, the New York Rangers, and the Vancouver Canucks. The 15-time NHL all star hoisted 6 Stanley Cups, 2 Hart Memorial Trophies, and 2 Lester B. Pearson awards along with 1 Conn Smythe Trophy. He is the only player ever to hoist a Stanley Cup as a captain for 2 different teams (Oilers and Rangers), and his jersey number “11” is retired by both teams. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 for his accomplishments.

 

Vinnie’s Honorable Mention:

Ron Francis

-Steve Yzerman

-Martin Brodeur

 

Ethan’s Honorable Mention:

-Patrick Roy

-Joe Sakic

-Bobby Orr

 

Vinnie’s #1

Wayne Gretzky

Career Stats: 1,487 GP, 894 goals, 1,963 assists, 2,857 points

Wayne Gretzky, or the “Great One”, holds just about every record in the book. He is the most dominant player to ever play the game. The only athlete in any sport who’s numbers are considered “untouchable”. Don’t believe me? He has the stats to back it up. He has more assists, than anyone has points. You’re going to think I’m making his accolades up, but I assure you, I’m not. In his career, The Great One has won 10 scoring titles, 5 Ted Lindsay Awards, 9 Hart Trophies, 2 Conn Smythes, 5 Lady Byng Memorial Trophies, and 4 Stanley Cups. He is by far the best player of all time, and I don’t believe that’s up for debate.

Ethan’s #1

Wayne Gretzky

Career Stats: 1,487 GP, 894 goals, 1,963 assists, 2,857 points

Wayne Gretzky is without a doubt the greatest hockey player of all time. Also known as “The Great One”, Gretzky entered the league playing for the Edmonton Oilers. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues, and the New York Rangers. At the time of his retirement in 1999, Gretzky held 61 NHL records. During his career, he won 10 scoring titles, 5 Ted Lindsay Awards, 9 Hart Trophies, 2 Conn Smythe Trophies, 5 Lady Byng Memorial Trophies, and 4 Stanley Cups. His jersey number “99” is retired throughout the league, and rightfully earned his spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.

Vinnie Plue
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