The 51 Best NHL Players of the 1990s

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor INovember 14, 2012

The 51 Best NHL Players of the 1990s

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    With the NHL currently locked out, has been featuring a lot of content focused on the 1992-93 season.

    The 1990s in general were an amazing time for the NHL, and there are tons of players who had a great decade.

    It featured players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and other assorted stars.

    So many players made an impact on the NHL during the 1990s, so many players had outstanding achievements and hockey in the 1990s was very fun to watch

    In no particular order, here are the 51 best players from the 1990s.


    Some statistics for this slideshow were obtained from Sports illustrated; others obtained from HockeyDB and Hockey-Reference and award information obtained from Wikipedia.

Alexander Mogilny

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    Alexander Mogilny was tied for No.10 in goal scorer during the decade with a grand total of 321 goals. The highlight of the decade for Mogilny was his 1992-93 season with Buffalo Sabres.

    During that season, Mogilny scored 76 goals in 77 games to tie Teemu Selanne for the most goals of the season, and he finished with a grand total of 127 points. During the same decade, Mogilny was a four-time NHL All-Star

Mark Recchi

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    Mark Recchi was the man who was tied with Alexander Mogilny in totals goals scored during the 1990s, and the decade was a great one for the recently-retired veteran.

    Recchi won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1990-91 season, a year in which Recchi scored 40 goals and 113 points during the regular season and 34 points in 24 playoff games.

    Other accolades for Recchi during the decade include six All-Star game selections and one All-Star MVP award.

    Recchi also set the Philadelphia Flyers single-season scoring record in 1992-93 with 1(53 goals and 70 assists for 123 points.

Brian Leetch

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    Brian Leetch is considered to be one of the greatest American-born defenders of all-time, and he was certainly one of the NHL's best defensemen in the 1990s.

    Leetch was a dynamic offensive-defenseman who made history with the New York Rangers. He set a franchise record for scoring by a defenseman in the 1991-92 season, when he recorded 22 goals and 80 assists for 102 points.

    He made NHL history in 1994 when he became the first American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy that capped of an amazing season for the Rangers.

    During the decade, Leetch won two Norris Trophies, he was a seven-time All-Star, and he captained the United States to a gold medal during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Chris Chelios

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    Chris Chelios is another great American-born defenseman who had an amazing career in the 1990s.

    Chelios was a six-time All-Star, a two-time Norris Trophy winner and he represented his country in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and the Nagano Olympics in 1998,

    The defender had a career that spanned many decades, but he was easily one of the NHL's best defenders during the '90s.

Jeremy Roenick

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    In today's world, Jeremy Roenick is known for his analysis on NBC, his controversial personality and his status as one of the best players in video game history.

    However, Roenick had a great career with the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes during the 1990s. It included four consecutive seasons in which 40 or more goals and 90 or more points, and five All-Star selections.

    Roenick also was a mainstay for the United States during international competition that decade. When the decade was complete for Roenick, he was No.9 overall with 326 total goals.

Mike Modano

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    Mike Modano is arguably one of the greatest American-born forwards in NHL history, and he is a future NHL Hall of Famer.

    During the decade, Modano led the Minnesota North Stars to the Stanley Cup Final, he won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars and he was a three-time All-Star.

    When Modano retired, he was the all-time leading American-born goal scorer, and most of his success came in the 1990s.

Peter Forsberg

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    Peter Forsberg was one of the greatest players in NHL history, and he was most efficient durring the 1990s.

    Injuries ultimately cut his career short, but "Foppa" accomplished a lot with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche during the 1990s.

    For starters, Forsberg was a four-time All-Star, a Stanley Cup winner in 1996 and an Olympic gold medalist in 1994 with Sweden.

    He also was the winner of the Calder Trophy during the shortened 1995 season in which he scored 50 points in 47 games.

    If Forsberg had been completely healthy, he arguably could have accomplished greater things, but that doesn't take away from what he did accomplish from 1990 to 1999.

Pavel Bure

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    Pavel Bure was recently enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a member of the 2012 class, and he was one of the NHL's best pure goal scorers during his time in the league.

    The 1990s were a dynamic time for Bure, and the decade is highlighted by back-to-back 60-goal and 100-plus point campaigns with the Vancouver Canucks.

    Injuries and the 1994-95 work stoppage limited Bure's effectiveness for the remainder of the decade, but it is hard to say that Bure wasn't one of the league's most dynamic players from 1990 to 1999.

Sergei Fedorov

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    Sergei Fedorov was one of the NHL's top players during the 1990s, and he is a player who wil be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

    During the decade, Fedorov was a decorated award winner as an individual and with the Detroit Red Wings.

    Individual trophies include the Hart Trophy in 1994, the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1994 and a Selke Trophy win in 1994 and 1996.

    The dynamic Russian forward also won two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, and he was a three-time All-Star.

    Fedorov is still the record holder for most goals scored by a Russian-born forward, and six years of 30-goals or more helped him set that record.

Nicklas Lidstrom

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    Nicklas Lidstrom will go down as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, and he made his impact known in the 1990s.

    Lidstrom was a skilled offensive-defenseman who was an amazing situational defender. During the decade, Lidstrom won two Stanley Cups and he was a three-time All-Star.

    Although Lidstrom wasn't acknowledged for his great defensive play until the 2000s, he was an anchor on the Red Wings' blue line during the 1990s, and they may not have been as successful as they were without Lidstrom.

Claude Lemieux

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    Claude Lemieux wasn't a flashy player, prolific scorer throughout the 1990s, but he was a clutch and gritty player that made that extra difference for his team throughout the decade.

    During the decade, Lemieux won a Conn Smythe Trophy, two Stanley Cups in 1995 and 1996, and he was a clutch playoff performer from 1993 to 1999.

    Nonetheless, when all is said and done, Lemieux was one of the decade's top players.

Pat LaFontaine

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    Pat LaFontaine is another player who was dominant in the 1990s, but he could have been more dominant if he was injury-free during the entire decade.

    LaFontaine's decade is arguably highlighted by his explosive franchise-record setting 1992-93 in which he recorded 53 goals, 95 assists and 148 points.

Teemu Selanne

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    The Finnish Flash was one of the NHL's most explosive and exciting players to watch during the 1990s. He was the epitome of class, and a player that everyone wanted to root for.

    Selanne set two NHL-rookie records during the 1992-93 season, and it was an explosive start to a Hall-of-Fame career.

    Selanne scored a staggering 76 goals and registered 132 points during the season, marks that will never be broken.

    The Flash would go on to record two additional 100-point or more seasons during the decade with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Al MacInnis

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    Al MacInnis possessed one of the hardest slap shots in NHL history, and he was a player who was one of the league's top offensive defenders during the 1990s.

    MacInnis' best statistical season of the decade was in 1990-91 in which he scored 28 goals and 75 assists for 103 total points.

    During the '90s, MacInnis played in multiple all-star games, and he even won The Hardest Shot competition at the Super Skills portion of All-Star weekend five times during that span.

Phil Housley

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    Phil Housley was one of the NHL's top defenders who never won a Norris Trophy, but he had an outstanding career in the 1990s.

    Housley was a four-time All-Star and he was a top offensive defenseman during the decade. His top offensive year was the 1992-93 season, and it was a 97-point campaign that is always overshadowed by Teemu Selanne's historic year.

    Nonetheless, Housley was a defender who stood out in a big way during the 1990s.

Chris Pronger

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    Chris Pronger has always been one of the NHL's most feared defenders, and he is a player who broke onto the scene during the 1990s.

    Pronger doesn't have the impressive offensive stats that other top defenders of the decade had, but he was an intimidating and impressive shutdown defender for the Hartford Whalers and St.Louis Blues.

    Pronger really turned the corner entering the new millenium, but he was an amazing physical-defender during the 1990s decade.

Brett Hull

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    Brett Hull is one of the NHL's most talented snipers in league history, and he was a monster during the 1990s.

    Hull's premiere season in the 1990s was undisputedly the 1990-91 season. 

    In 1990-91, Hull set two regular-season franchise records when he scored 86 goals and recorded 131 points.

    When the 1990s were said and done, Hull led the NHL with 479 goals, and he was fifth in overall scoring with 842 points.

Doug Gilmour

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    Doug Gilmour was one of the greatest players ever to play in the NHL, and he was No.4 in total assists with 544 during the 1990s decade.

    When you look at Gilmour's play during the 1990s, his 1992-93 campaign that set two team records for the Toronto Maple Leafs, particularly stand out.

    Gilmour's 95 assists and 127 points during that season still stand to this day, and it really cements an amazing decade for the Hall of Fame center.

Pierre Turgeon

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    Pierre Turgeon is well known for being taken out by Dale Hunter during the 1992-93 postseason, but Turgeon was one of the NHL's top scoring forwards during the 1990s.

    Turgeon scored 331 goals and 813 points during the decade, he won a Lady Byng Trophy and he was a four-time All-Star.

    The decade was great for the forward, and he is one of the greatest NHL players or all-time.

Ron Francis

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    Ron Francis is one of the most iconic players in NHL history, as he finished his career with the fourth most points in league history.

    During the 1990s, Francis was the No.8 scorer with 791 total points.

    The decade was a great time for Francis as he won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, a Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1995, two Lady Byng Trophies and he went to the All-Star Game twice.

Eric Lindros

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    Eric Lindros was a player who was looked at as the "next one" but concussions severely derailed his career, and altered his potential.

    During the 1990s, Lindros a five-time All-Star and seven seasons in which he posted 70-or more points. His best year was the 1995-96 season in which he scored 47 goals and added 68 assists for 115 points.

    Lindros is a player who didn't have a lengthy career, and he is a player who should be a Hall of Famer.

    This is because Lindros was one of the most dominating power forwards of the 1990s, and he changed the way the position was played.

Dominik Hasek

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    The Dominator simply was a dominant goaltender during the 1990s, and although he only recorded 195 wins, 42 of those wins came via shutout.

    Hasek also maintained a 2.26 GAA during the decade, and that mark was second only to Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.

    During the decade, Hasek captured five Vezina Trophies, he was a four-time All-Star, a two-time Hart Trophy winner and a two-time Lester B. Pearson Trophy winner.

    Simply put, Hasek is one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time, and the 1990s were an amazing time for the Dominator.

Mike Richter

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    Mike Richter was one of the NHL's top goaltenders in the 1990s, and his he remembered most for his amazing play during the New York Rangers' Stanley Cup winning season in 1994.

    The American-born netminder also turned heads with his lights out play for the United States during the World Cup of Hockey, and Richter earned a gold medal for his efforts.

    Statistically speaking, Richter was the fourth winningest goaltender during the decade with 229 overall victories.

Ed Belfour

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    Ed Belfour was one of the top goaltenders in many categories during the 1990s. For starters, he was No.2 in overal wins with 272, No.1 overall in shutouts with 45 and No.3 overall with a 2.46 GAA.

    During the decade, Belfour captured a Stanley Cup, two Vezina Trophies, a Calder Trophy, five All-Star Game appearances and four William J. Jennings Trophies.

Brendan Shanahan

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    Brendan Shanahan was snubbed of a well deserved first-ballot Hall of Fame induction this year, but the current NHL head of Player Safety is a sure bet for the 2013 class.

    During the 1990s, Shanahan was the No.2 goal scorer with 348 total goals, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and a five-time All-Star.

    Shanahan is regarded as one of the greatest left-wingers of all-time and his performance in the 1990s helped to solidify his legacy.

Adam Oates

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    Adam Oates was enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week, and he was one of the NHL's most unsung players of all-time.

    He quietly dominated play during the decade and he was second in total points with 875 from 1990-1999, and second in total assists with 652.

    Oates also was a five-time All-Star during a decade that was really special for him as an NHL star.

Jaromir Jagr

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    Jaromir Jagr has had an illustrious career, and he was a force for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1990s. 

    Jagr was a key piece during the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, and he emerged as a top offensive force.

    He was a three-time Art Ross Trophy winner and his 1995-96 season set three NHL records. That season Jagr had the most points (149) by a right wing, the most assists by a right wing (87) and his production was the most points by a European-born player.

    The Czech Republic-born forward finished the decade with 345 goals and 517 assists for 862 total points, and he certainly was an elite forward of the decade.


Theo Fleury

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    Theo Fleury was one of the most talented small-forwards in NHL history, and he was also one of the NHL's most physical forwards.

    Despite his stature of 5'6" and 182 pounds, Fleury was one of the NHL's top scoring forwards of the 1990s, and he finished with 345 goals and 787 points.

    Fleury was also a six-time All-Star during the decade, and the rest of his career was marred with off-the-ice issues, so it is a shame that Fleury didn't exceed his career potential.

Steve Yzerman

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    "Stevie Y" was one of the most talented, and classiest players in NHL history. His career got off to a lightning start in the 1980s, but Yzerman was an extremely talented forward who thrived in the 1990s.

    Yzerman was tied for No.4 in decade scoring with a total of 862 points.

    The tenured Detroit Red Wings captain also was a six-time NHL All-Star, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner, a two-time Stanley Cup winner all during the glorious decade that was the 1990s.

Mark Messier

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    Mark Messier is often regarded as the greatest captain in NHL history, due to the fact that he is the only player in league history to captain two different teams to a Stanley Cup victory.

    During the 1990s, Messier was a dominant player who was a league leader, and that is reflected by the individual and team awards he captured during the decade.

    Messier was a seven-time All-Star, a Hart Trophy Winner, a Lester B. Trophy winner and a Stanley Cup Champion in 1994.

    Messier would finish the decade with 506 assists, a feat good enough for eighth in the entire NHL.

Luc Robitaille

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    Luc Robitaille was a talented forward who was one of the NHL's top snipers during the 1990s. During the decade, Robitaille finished fourth with 342 total goals.

    "Cool Hand Luc" also was a five-time during the decade, and his overall achievements helped him in a career that when completed, left him as the greatest scoring left winger in NHL history.

Patrick Roy

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    Patrick Roy is regarded as one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the NHL, and the 1990s were a decade of dominance for St. Patrick. Roy won an impressive 296 games during the decade, he recorded 36 shutouts, and he won a few trophies.

    Those trophies include two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, two Vezina Trophies, a William J. Jennings Trophy and seven All-Star Game appearances.

    Roy set many goaltending records once he retired, but upon looking back at the 90s, there were not many men who played better than Roy.

Martin Broduer

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    There was another elite goaltender from Quebec during the 1990s, and his name was Martin Brodeur.

    Brodeur emerged on the scene and made his impact during the 1993-94 season with the New Jersey Devils. The enigmatic netminder led New Jersey to the Eastern Conference final that year, and he would lead them to a Stanley Cup the following season.

    Brodeur earned a Calder Trophy for his impressive performance in 1994, a Stanley Cup in 1995, two William J. Jennings Trophies in 1997 and 1998 and Marty was a four-time All-Star during that stretch.

    Brodeur is arguably one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, and his rise to stardom in the 1990s was only the beginning of his Hall of Fame career.

Curtis Joseph

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    Curtis Joseph, affectionately known as "Cujo" was the third winningest goaltender during the 1990s. The undrafted netminder had an exemplary career and 248 of his 454 career wins came during the 90s.

    Joseph bounced around between three teams during the decade, and managed to be successful for each of them. During the decade, he also recorded 22 shutouts which was seventh best in the NHL.

    The netminder retired in 2009, so it is only a matter of time before he is considered for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Mats Sundin

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    Mats Sundin was recently enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, because of his talent and accomplishments as a player. The forward spent time with the Quebec Nordiques and the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1990s, and he had an impressive decade in production.

    Sundin tallied 656 total points during the decade, and he was a four-time All-Star for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    No matter how you slice it, Sundin was a man whose '90s accomplishments were pretty impressive.

Keith Tkachuk

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    Keith Tkachuk was one of the best American-born goal scorers of all-time, and his production during the 1990s made him one of the league's top forwards. 

    Tkachuk tallied 509 points during the decade, including 98 in 76 games with the Winnipeg Jets during the 1995-96 season.

    Tkachuk was also a three-time All-Star during the decade, and he was known for his heavy and lethal shot.

Mario Lemieux

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    Mario Lemieux was a dominant force during the 1990s, despite sitting out three full seasons and appearing in less than 30 games in 1990-91 and 1993-94.

    Lemieux battled Hodgkin's lymphoma, and it ultimately prevented him from playing to his full potential. If Lemieux had a clean bill of health, he would have made a run at many of Wayne Gretzky's records.

    Nonetheless, Lemieux had an impressive decade in his own right.

    During the decade, Lemieux had 656 points, he won two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe Trophies, four Art Ross Trophies, four All-Star selections, two Hart Trophies, two Lester. B Pearson Awards, and a Bill Masterton Trophy.

    To top it off, Lemieux was automatically inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, as it appeared that his career was over. Lemieux ultimately made a comeback years later, but he wasn't the same player he was years prior.

    Ultimately, Mario Lemieux was one of the greatest players in hockey history, and it is impressive what he was able to accomplish despite battling health issues and injuries during the 1990s.

Wayne Gretzky

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    Wayne Gretzky was the top scoring forward during the 1990s, and it comes as a surprise to no one. 

    During the decade, Gretzky was a three-time Art Ross Trophy winner, a four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner and he played in every All-Star Game of the decade.

    He also captured the All-Star Game MVP in 1999, his last career All-Star appearance.

    The Great One, was the greatest player ever to lace up a pair of skates, and his 940 points during the decade are truly outstanding.

Joe Sakic

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    Joe Sakic was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and it was a well served honor. Burnaby Joe was one of the top scorers during the 1990s, and he was third overall during the decade with 872 points.

    He also was seventh in total goals with 332. Sakic also was a Stanley Cup Champion, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner, an eight-time All-Star, and one of the greatest leaders in NHL history.

    The 1990s were fun to watch, and Joe Sakic is a huge reason why.

John LeClair

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    John LeClair is famously known for his role as a member of the infamous Legion of Doom line with the Philadelphia Flyers, but LeClair had a great career during the '90s.

    During the decade, LeClair won a Stanley Cup, he was a four-time All-Star and he became the first American-born player to score 50-goals or more in three consecutive seasons.

    When the decade was said and done, LeClair had a total of 552 points.

Tom Barrasso

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    Tom Barrasso was one of the NHL's top goaltenders during the 1990s, and when he retired he was on of the best American-born goaltenders of all-time.

    During the decade, Barrasso won 201 games, he backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles and he was known as a clutch goaltender who you wanted to have in net when the game was on the line.

Ray Bourque

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    Ray Bourque is recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, and the 1990s were a great time for the Boston Bruins/Colorado Avalanche defender.

    During the 1990s, Bourque was a six-time All-Star, the MVP of the 1996 All-Star Game, a three-time Norris Trophy winner and he tallied 628 total points.

    The biggest, and most memorable moment of his career didn't take part until the next decade, but that doesn't take away from the ten tremendous years Bourque had in the '90s.

Scott Stevens

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    Scott Stevens was one of the most intimidating defenders in the 1990s, and there are numerous hits that fans point to during the decade. A few of the hits included Stevens and Eric Lindros, but the New Jersey Devils' captain was a human wrecking ball during the decade.

    He was an excellent defender, and one of the greatest never to win a Norris Trophy, but he did earn eight All-Star selections, and he won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils during the 1995-96 season.

    Stevens arguably was one of the iconic defenders from the decade, because of the large reaching impact he had on the game.

Mike Vernon

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    Mike Vernon was a netminder who had a lot of success during the 1990s with multiple teams. During the decade, he won 219 games, he had a GAA of 2.87, he was a William J. Jennings Trophy recipient, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner and a Stanley Cup Champion.

    It was a great decade for Vernon, and the Detroit Red Wings likely wouldn't have won the Stanley Cup without his superb goaltending during the entire 1996-97 season.

John Vanbiesbrouck

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    John Vanbiesbrouck was one of the most successful goaltenders in the 1990s in many major goaltending categories.

    He was sixth in wins with 205, he was fifth in shutouts with 28 and he firth in GAA with a 2.72 mark during the decade.

    "Beezer" also was a three-time All-Star during the decade and he went on to have a career that will narrowly exclude him from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Paul Kariya

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    Paul Kariya was a very entertaining player whose career was unfortunately cut short because of concussions. The dynamic forward burst onto the scene with 39 points during a shortened 1994-95 season, and he took it to the next level for the remainder of the decade.

    In a short span during the 1990s, Kariya recorded 378 points, he was a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner and he was a three-time All-Star.

    In hindsight, it is interesting to reflect on what could have been for Kariya if he remained healthy.

Ron Hextall

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    Ron Hextall was a goaltender who was known as one of the feistiest and craziest netminders in hockey history.

    Hextall had most of his success in the late '80s, but 197 of his 296 career wins came during the 1990s.

    He also recorded 22 shutouts and maintained a 2.85 GAA throughout the decade and it was good enough to be seventh best during that time period.

Joe Nieuwendyk

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    Joe Nieuwendyk is currently the general manager of the Dallas Stars, but he was one of the NHL's top forwards during the 1990s.

    Nieuwendyk tallied 548 points during the decade, he won the King Clancy Trophjy, a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1999.

    Nieuwendyk was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011, and the 1990s helped cement his case for induction.

Alexei Yashin

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    Alexei Yashin is no longer in the NHL, but his contract still counts against the New York Islanders' salary cap. If Yashin was able to be the player he was in the 1990s, he could have really helped the Islanders when he was traded from Ottawa.

    Yashin totaled 403 points for the Senators during the decade, he won a Calder Trophy during his rookie season, he was  a runner up for the Hart Trophy in 1998.

    Although Yashin is known more for his ego and attitude toward the end of his time in Ottawa, you can't deny his pure ability and dominance as a scorer during the '90s.

Vincent Damphousse

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    Vincent Damphousse was a talented forward who played for multiple teams throughout his career in the 1990s.

    Damphousse's crowning achievement was during the 1992-93 season in which he had 97 points in the regular season and 23 points in the playoffs that helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup title.

    Throughout the decade, Damphousse recorded 673 points and he was also a two-time All-Star would received the MVP during the 1991 All-Star Game.

    Damphousse ended his career with over 1200 points, and he is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate that could be inducted in a few years.

Rob Blake

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    Rob Blake spent the entire 1990s with the Los Angeles Kings, and he was a player that really exceeded expectations.

    Blake was a physical-defender who would dish out bone-crushing hits, but he did have an offensive side. He was able to contribute 323 points of offense, he was a two-time All-Star and he won the Norris Trophy in 1998.

    Blake was an amazing defender, and his true talents were finally realized when he won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche after the decade had ended.