NHL History: Who Is the Greatest New Jersey Devils Player of All Time?

Joseph Kuchie@@jkuchieCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2012

NHL History: Who Is the Greatest New Jersey Devils Player of All Time?

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    Despite being in New Jersey for only 30 years, the Devils have produced some of the best hockey talent in NHL history.

    Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer have all had their numbers retired by the organization, and players like Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur will likely retire as some of the Devils' most memorable greats.

    But if you had to choose one, who would you choose? Everyone has a favorite, but who exactly is the greatest New Jersey Devil of all time? Here are some possible selections...you decide.

Scott Stevens

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    We'll start with the retired numbers, and Scott Stevens was the first one to see his name in the rafters.

    Stevens played 14 years in New Jersey, winning three Stanley Cups and breaking two team records for most assists in a season (60) and most points by a defenseman in one year (78). He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy during the Devils 2000 Stanley Cup win and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

    For his 22-year career, Stevens recorded 196 goals, 712 assists and an unbelievable +393 +/- rating. He also scored 17 goals and recorded 45 assists in 153 playoff games with New Jersey.

    Stevens was always known for his mental toughness and his ability to change a game with his hits. People argue that one of the main reasons why the Devils won the Cup in 1995 was because of his bone-crushing hit on Slava Kozlov in Game 2 against Detroit.

    Number 4 will always be a fan favorite within the organization. He has recently taken the assistant coaching job with the Devils for the 2012-2013 season. He was one of the main reasons why the Devils saw success in the 90's, and his legacy will go on for future generations to remember.

Ken Daneyko

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    Ken Daneyko was the second player to have his number retired by the Devils, and like Scott Stevens, his defensive counterpart, he undoubtedly deserved it.

    Unlike Stevens, Daneyko played his entire 20-year career in New Jersey after being drafted 18th overall by the Devils in the 1982 NHL Draft. Dano wasn't known for his goal scoring ability but more for his physical presence and work ethic, holding a Devils record for playing in 1,283 career games.

    Daneyko stuck with the Devils through thick and thin, and after 13 years with New Jersey, he finally won his first Stanley Cup in 1995. He would go on to be a part of all three Stanley Cup teams before finally retiring in 2004.

    He is currently a TV analyst for the Devils during the regular season. Daneyko may never get into the Hall of Fame, but he is still considered one of the best and toughest Devils in history.

Scott Niedermayer

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    The final retired number belongs to Scott Niedermayer, who saw his number lifted to the top of Prudential Center this past season.

    Niedermayer played 13 of his 17 seasons in New Jersey after the Devils selected him third overall in the 1991 NHL Draft. He too won all three Stanley Cups with the Devils and won the James Norris Memorial Trophy in his final year in New Jersey before leaving for Anaheim.

    Niedermayer will likely go down as one of the best offensive defenseman of all-time, recording 740 career points during the regular season and adding another 98 points in the playoffs. His ability to skate and get pucks on net were one of the main reasons why New Jersey was so successful in his time with the team.

    Overall, Niedermayer scored 65 goals and recorded 221 assists during his time in New Jersey. He holds Devils records for most assists in one playoff season and most points by a defenseman in one playoff season.

John MacLean

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    John MacLean is on this list for his playing career, not his coaching.

    Despite being the head coach of one of the more disappointing Devils teams in 2010-11, MacLean is still considered to be one of the best Devils of all-time. In 15 seasons with the organization, MacLean broke almost every scoring record the team had and won a Stanley Cup during the 1994-95 season.

    Before Patrik Elias came along, MacLean was the Devils all-time leader in both goals scored and points recorded. He is still first all-time for power play points with 197.

    MacLean was drafted sixth overall by the Devils in the 1983 NHL Draft, and he was best known for his overtime goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1987 that sent the Devils to the playoffs for the first time in their history.

    MacLean finished with 347 goals and 354 assists with New Jersey, making him one of the best scorers in team history.

Sergei Brylin

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    Here's a fact people tend to forget: Sergei Brylin also has three Stanley Cup wins with the New Jersey Devils.

    Brylin played 13 seasons in New Jersey, winning the Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003. He netted the insurance goal in Game 4 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final against Detroit and scored 15 goals in 109 playoff appearances.

    All Devils fans loved Brylin during his time in New Jersey, and he usually gets a great response whenever he is at Prudential Center. Overall, Brylin scored 129 goals in his career before leaving for the KHL in 2008.

    Everyone remembers Daneyko, Niedermayer, Stevens and Brodeur, but we must remember that Brylin was just as important to those Stanley Cup teams as the rest.

Patrik Elias

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    We move on to the current players that will go down as some of the greats. First, Patrik Elias.

    Elias has spent his entire 16 year career with New Jersey, winning two Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003 and four Eastern Conference Championships in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2012. He is currently the franchise leader in goals, assists and points, and he holds the playoff records for goals (40), assists (77) and points (117).

    Elias also holds the records for most points in a season, playoff season, game winning goals and hat tricks. Overall, he has recorded 361 goals and 533 assists and still has one more year left in his contract.

    While not known to be a famous forward, Elias has quietly become one of the best forwards to ever play the game. Above all, he is probably one of the best second round picks to ever come into the NHL and is undoubtedly one of the best draft picks the Devils have ever made.

    With at least one more season left in the tank, Elias should be able to separate himself from the crowd with most of the Devils' records. He will eventually have his number retired by the organization and has become one of the most successful Devils in history.

Martin Brodeur

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    The greatest of all time for a reason: Martin Brodeur holds records for career wins, games played, shutouts, playoff shutouts, saves and minutes. He also has the most 40 win seasons, is the only goalie to reach 600 career wins and was the youngest goalie to reach 300, 400, and 500 wins.

    Oh, and he has scored two goals in his career.

    Every season the critics say Brodeur should retire. They say he is getting too slow, too old. Yet after playing in his 21st season with New Jersey, he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

    The former 20th overall pick in the 1990 NHL Draft has become not only the Devils best player in franchise history but perhaps the greatest goaltender to ever play the game. He has all but eclipsed Patrick Roy in almost every category, and his three Stanley Cups have him second all time for goaltenders.

    At 40-years-old, we don't know how much longer Brodeur has left. However, his two year contract extension will give us just a few more years of memories before of the great Devils skates off into the sunset.