I recently read an article that ranked a few of the NHL captains on a short list. I disagreed with a few of the choices, so I thought I would create my own list.
The team captain has to have heart, lead by example, get along with players in the locker room, and be respected in the organization as well as around the league. The captain may not always be the youngest, or best player on the team, but the player that the organization feels provides the best leadership and intangibles to motivate his teammates. This is partially why a player like Dion Phaneuf of the Leafs dons the "C", instead of current Toronto point-leader Clarke MacArthur, or even Phil Kessel.
Currently, 29 of the 30 NHL teams have a captain- the only team without one is the New Jersey Devils, who sport three alternates- they will not be present on this list.
Also, a lot of the captains in the middle numbers are interchangeable, as there is no correct, definitive way of arguing that Rick Nash is a better captain than Zdeno Chara. This is merely my perception and ranking.
Enjoy the article!