Who is the greatest NHL player of all time?
Easy read? Wayne Gretzky.
Who else but the player who, over the course of a 20-year NHL career, has scored the most goals, assists and points in league history? At the time Gretzky retired, he held 61 NHL records and most of them still stand today.
Gretzky’s place at the top of the charts doesn’t seem debatable, so we won’t be discussing it. Instead, another 99 sites follow the 99 we need to solve.
Welcome to NHL99, a project that aims to put a new spin on a familiar theme: Who are the 100 best players in post-1967 expansion NHL history? Let’s face it, there have been several previous attempts to name the best players of all time, so this is the starting point and basic tweak.
We didn’t want to go through the same old ground again. Instead, we wanted to try something new, and the post-1967 NHL seemed like a good starting point. why? Because when the game and work of hockey changed radically. Instead of six teams, there were suddenly 12. Instead of a league dominated almost exclusively by Canadians, a handful of players arrived and eventually players poured in from every corner of the world.
Today begins the countdown. We call it the NHL99 because there are 99 debatable spots on our Top 100 list and the number 99 resonates with hockey fans everywhere.
So, spoiler alert, Wayne Gretzky is #1 on our list. One could argue that Gretzky actually belongs in the Hall of Fame in two categories – as a player and as a captain. Arguably, no individual has done more to develop the NHL game, on and off the ice, than Gretzky.
But it became interesting and controversial after Gretzky. Nine books the athlete They had voices in this project: Eric Duhatschek, Dom Luszczyszyn, Shayna Goldman, Ian Mendes, Scott Wheeler, Sean Gentille, Michael Russo, Sean McIndoe, and James Myrtle. Each of the voters submitted a list of 100 players in the spring of 2022, before the playoffs began, and points were awarded based on position: 100 points for first place on the list, 1 point for number 100, and so on. . Gretzky gets a perfect 900 points. At the end of the project, we will unveil everyone’s ballots and point totals. If this sounds familiar, it is because the athlete He has done similar projects with NBAAnd NFL And MLB.
With our list of the 100 best groups, the countdown begins now. But this is more than just a countdown. From now through February, we’ll be unveiling one player a day, six days a week, along with an in-depth feature that we hope is full of stories, angles, and anecdotes about these players you’ve never read before. More than 40 writers from around the world the athlete Newsroom contributed to this project.
Now, some important caveats about the process, starting with the acknowledgment that any list that discusses the all-time greatest will be subjective and can harbor some modernity bias. And again, our focus is strictly on the NHL from 1967 to present.
This should be made quite clear because you won’t find Gordie Howe on our list. Is it sacrilege for a list of all-time greatest players without Mr. Hockey to exist? Perhaps, but Howe only played 369 NHL games from 1967-68 onwards and spent six seasons in the WHA. So he got out. You also won’t find Bobby Hull, Maurice Richard, or Howie Morenz.
Our thorniest and most complex choices involved players who straddled both ends of the spectrum. Some slipped through the cracks because their biggest impacts came before 1967. Some, who would eventually qualify, didn’t make the list because they were still in the early stages of their careers.
Our cap was 400 games for the skaters (300 for the goaltender) at the end of the 2021-22 regular season, which is the standard for games to qualify for an NHL pension. So Auston Matthews (407 career games) has made it, just barely. Cal Makar has not. He has only played 173 regular season NHL games. It’s a hard line to draw, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
The overall goal was simple: to tell 100 compelling stories about 100 most influential NHL players, and ultimately, perhaps, create a conversation about who might have made the list and been overlooked.
However, there is one caveat: if you want to add your favorite player or contest one of our picks, you’ll also need to subtract someone from the list.
What you’ll discover, as the list counts down, may be easier said than done.
A quick word on cup points: In each story, you’ll see a graph with each player’s stats, achievements, and vote totals. In the Trophy Status section, you will see ‘Award Points’.
(Photo: Bruce Bennett, Gregory Shamus, Mike Powell, Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)