November 04, 2008

Top Ten American Players Of All Time

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.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprise the best american hockey player of all-time isn't mention in your article. Mr. Zero himself: Frank Brimsek. Two Stanley Cup, two vezina, two first all-star selection, six second all-star selection, two Vezina and a hockey Hall of Famer. One of the most constant goaltender ever with an amazing glove. One of Boston true great legend.

Anonymous said...

I like the list and I agree that Frank Brimsek was great but not greater than those 10. I will always stick by Mike Modano as the greatest American though, and he's still putting up 50 points a year on the second line.

Anonymous said...

Where is Dave Langevin? The guy has 4 Stanley Cups. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Langevin

Anonymous said...

Brimsek is arguably #1. There were 3 or 4 Americans in the entire NHL at that time and he dominated. Also ommitted is Hobey Baker, who is the only person in the Hockey HOF and College Football HOF. He led Princeton to National Championships in both sports. Upon graduating, he turned down $20,000 (in the 1910's) from the Montreal Canadians and never played in the NHL. He died at a young age in WWI. You don't think he could have played for 20 years in the NHL had he so chosen? He is also, arguably, #1. This heading should be "Greatest American Players that the author has heard of". There is NO historical record here whatsoever.
Whoever said "Dave Langevin". Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Lafontaine was the most skilled US forward ever and Leetch was the most skilled Defensemen. Modano, Roenick, Mullen were all great, but Lafontaine was the best. Too bad he played on crappy Islander teamsand had his career shortened by concussions.

Bib said...

I can't believe u don't have Brett hull