Since all eyes are on the United States today, I thought today was as good as any day to highlight the top ten American hockey players of all time.
Interestingly, I'm not going to rank them. Why? Because I don't know if I can definitively say that any of these 10 players is better than the other. You will note these players are all basically from the same era. Some played longer than others, but I don't know that any really stands out as significantly better or having a great legacy.
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
John Leclair - The power forward had his career interrupted by injuries, but for a time he was as good a goal scorer as the NHL had. During the low-scoring "Dead Puck era" he had three consecutive seasons of 50 goals followed by two more of over 40. In his career he scored over 400 in 967 games.
Tom Barrasso - Few NHLers of any nationality had rookie season like Tom Barrasso did. The 19 year old stepped out of high school and won both the Calder and Vezina Trophies. With his big frame and perfected butterfly stance, he went on to an 18 year career with 369 wins and back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
Jeremy Roenick - If he stays healthy he could reach 1400 career games this season. He's already topped 500 goals and 1200 points. Despite as many as 11 concussions and two broken jaws and some serious knee injuries, the nine time all star always fought through the pain with a zest for the game few have ever matched.
Neal Broten - The biggest star from "the State of hockey," Minnesotan slickster Neal Broten was the first American to score 100 points in a season. The great playmaker was a key member of the 1980 US Miracle on Ice team played in just shy of 1100 NHL games and scored 923 points.
Joe Mullen - New York's gentlemanly sniper from Hell's Kitchen was the first American to score 500 career goals and 1000 career points. He won three Stanley Cup championships and two Lady Byng trophies.
Brian Leetch - The Texan born Leetch was as cerebral of a defenseman as they come. The two time Norris trophy winner is one of only 5 defensemen in NHL history to register 100 points in a single season. In leading the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup he became the first American to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
Mike Richter - A true acrobat of a goalie, Mike Richter spectacularly led the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994 as well leading his country to the 1996 World Cup title. Injuries prevented him from padding career statistics, otherwise he would be the undisputed top goalie in American history.
Mike Modano - Modano is in his 20th season and padding his lead as the highest scoring American player of all time. The 1999 Stanley Cup champion should finish the season around 550 career goals and 1350 career points.
Chris Chelios - Chelios keeps going, even at the age of 46. There appears to be a pretty good chance that he's going to pass Gordie Howe as the NHL's all time games played leader. In his prime the three time Norris trophy winner was as good as any defenseman in the game and one of the most complete ever. He was the prototypical NHL defenseman of any era.
Pat Lafontaine - Injuries cut short the career of America's most electrifying offensive force. His 148 points in 1993-94 is the best single season ever by an American. In total he scored 1013 points in just 865 games, a career average of 1.17 points per game.
I tend to lean towards either Leetch or Lafontaine as the best American ever.