The 50 Most Underrated Players in NHL History
There is no end to the talk of who the greatest players in the NHL are. The greatest scorers, the greatest skaters, the greatest leaders. Former and current goalies are debated endlessly as to whose the best we've ever seen between the pipes. It never ends when we talk about the greats, but what about the great players we never talk about?
What about the most underrated players in the history of our great league?
That's where a not-so-popular debate can begin. Who are the players that rarely get brought up in the 'great debates,' yet belong right in the middle of them? That's where we realize that when we talk about the NHL's best, we often underestimate the careers of so many.
Plenty of legendary scorers, playmakers and goalies who did just as much as some of the most heralded netminders, yet don't see the same respect aimed their way. The higher they're ranked on the list, the more they're body of work goes unrecognized combined with how much they really did during their careers.
Here are the 50 most underrated players in NHL history.
50. Yannick Perreault
Though he didn't put up huge numbers over his 13-year career—247 goals and 516 points in 859 games—Yannick Perreault is widely regarded and one of the best faceoff men in what might be the history of the NHL.
He won over 60 percent of his faceoffs throughout his career, and though was never considered the best on his team, was always regarded as one of the most important.
He never won a Stanley Cup, nor any major awards in the league, and played in just one All-Star Game (2007) during his time in the league, but cannot be overlooked when it comes to players who meant a ton to their teams.
Perreault played for Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks during his time as a journeyman in the league.
49. Brad McCrimmon
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So who is Brad McCrimmon, and what is he doing on this list, you ask? Well, he only scored 81 goals and 403 points in his not-so-offensive career, but there was one area of his game that stands out as one of the best in history.
The stay-at-home defenseman compiled an incredible plus-444 in 1,222 NHL games, including his best season in 1985-86 with the Philadelphia Flyers where he was a whopping plus-83 in 80 games.
He won a Cup in the 1988-89 season with the Calgary Flames, and became the captain for one season the very next year. He played with some of the game's best, including Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque, and Nick Lidstrom, but he still had a job to do. And he did it well.
McCrimmon's plus/minus is currently the eighth-highest in NHL history—a statistic the league has been keeping since the 1967-68 season.
48. Tomas Sandstrom
He's not the most recognizable name to ever play the game—a slight understatement—but nonetheless, Tomas Sandstrom did have a pretty good career.
The Swede was a tough guy, but he knew how to score too. Along with his 1,193 career penalty minutes, he also managed to chip in 395 goals and 856 points in 983 games.
He won a Stanley Cup with the 1997 Detroit Red Wings, and though he was bounced around the league for much of his time, he did play important roles almost everywhere he went, including his best season in 1990-91 with the Los Angeles Kings when he scored 45 goals and 89 points.
Sandstrom retired in 1999 as a member of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
47. Ivan Boldirev
Ivan Boldirev. Who?
Even the most dedicated of fans may never even have heard of Boldirev, who played from 1970-1985 as a member of six different clubs.
He played 1,052 games, scored 361 goals, 866 points, and is a part of one of the coolest Stanley Cup stories.
In 1970 he was called up to the Boston Bruins just in case during their playoff run, but he was never needed in game action, and watched his team from the press box. But, in a series of weird events, he ended up getting his name engraved on the Cup anyway—the only defenseman to ever get his name on it without playing a single playoff game for the club that season—he played two in the regular season that year.
It's the only time he got his name on the Cup, and even though he didn't really deserve to have it there, you have to admit it's better to say you're on it, then you're not.
Well done, Ivan.
46. Sean Burke
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He wasn't known as one of the greatest goaltenders of all time during his playing days between 1987-2007, but the fact is, Sean Burke is in the top 20 goaltenders when it comes to all-time wins. His 324 victories are 19th in history, and it took him 820 games to do it.
Those wins included 38 shutouts, and a career 2.96 GAA and .902 save percentage.
Burke was drafted 24th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1985, and spent four seasons there before spending time with the Hartford Whalers and seven other teams in his final seven years in the NHL. He finished with the Los Angeles Kings in 2007.
In 1988-89, he was the first rookie goaltender ever selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game.
45. Thomas Lysiak
Tom Lysiak played 13 seasons in the NHL with the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks, and turned out to be a pretty solid player, since he was drafted second-overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft and all.
Lysiak had 843 points (292 goals, 551 assists) in 919 career games.
44. Robert Goring
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Robert Goring was a large part of the legendary New York Islanders team in the 1980's that won four-straight Stanley Cups. Needless to say, he's got himself some hardware to remember his playing days.
Goring scored 20-or-more goals in 10 straight years as a member of the Los Angeles Kings and Islanders, including four straight 30-goal campaigns.
He retired in 1985 after playing one season with the Boston Bruins. He had 888 points (375 goals, 513 assists) in 1,107 career games with the three organizations.
43. Esa Tikkanen
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Esa Tikkanen changed teams a ridiculous nine times in his NHL career, but he's most known for his role with the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers of the 1980's. He played eight seasons in Edmonton and was a part of four Cup winning Oilers teams(1985, 1987, 1988, 1990), and one with the New York Rangers in 1994.
Five Stanley Cups is impressive enough, but Tikkanen is often criticized and thought less of for riding the coattails of Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri—his linemates for much of his time there—but he proved he was more than just a defensive specialist.
In NHL playoff history, Tikkanen sits 14th in goals with 72 (186 games), and added 60 assists for 132 points. Not bad for a defense-first grind-like player.
42. Richard MacLeish
How can we not praise a man who had a mullet and moustache combination like that? It truly was great.
Rick MacLeish is predominantly known for his time with the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that drafted him fourth overall in 1970, as he made a name for himself early in his career as a goal scorer.
In the 1972-73 season, he hit the 50-goal mark (while adding 50 assists) to stamp his spot in the league, and prove he could hang with the big boys when it came to bulging the twine.
MacLeish scored 30 or more goals seven of his nine full seasons in Philly, and finished his relatively short career (846 games) with 349 goals and 759 points.
He won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, and his claim to fame is scoring the Cup-winning goal in the 1974 Finals against the Boston Bruins.
41. Mike Liut
Quick, think of the runner-up to Wayne Gretzky for the 1980-81 Hart Trophy. If you answered Mike Liut, you're right—and if you don't know who Mike Liut is, you're probably not alone.
Liut played 664 games in the NHL between 1979-1992 with the St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, and Washington Capitals, but managed to accomplish a lot.
In that same 1980-81 season, he was awarded the Lester B. Pearson award.
Though he never turned into a big-name goalie, and won 30 games just once in his career (1986-87), Liut sits 27th all-time in wins with 294.
He can at least say he was second-best to Gretzky that one season—something not to many people can say, really.
40. Geoff Courtnall
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Though his career during the regular season was a solid one (367 goals, 799 points in 1,048 games), Geoff Courtnall proved his worth in the playoffs more than anything.
In 156 postseason games, Courtnall recorded 39 goals and 109 points, and won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1988.
He bounced around the NHL a lot during his playing days, but that didn't stop him from producing when it mattered most. If anything, we should remember his career for that.
39. Rick Middleton
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Rick Middleton once had five-straight 40-goal seasons from 1979-1984 as a member of the Boston Bruins. His highest in those five years was 51 in 1981-82, but his best overall season was 1983-84 when he finished with 47 goals and 105 points.
After 1,005 career games, he tallied 448 goals and 988 points with the New York Rangers (1974-1976) and Bruins (1976-1988).
He never was on a Stanley Cup winning team, but did have an impressive 100 career points (45 goals, 55 assists) in 114 postseason games.
38. Rod Gilbert
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Rod Gilbert currently sits 19th all-time in scoring for a right-winger with 1,021 career points (406 goals, 615 assists), but it's a safe bet that he wouldn't be on most people's lists if they were asked to recall the top 20.
He is one of the best players to play for the New York Rangers, and he played every one of his 1,065 career games for them.
His best season was when he scored 43 goals and 97 points in 1971-72. Gilbert would score 30 goals five times in his career before retiring in 1978.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982, and has the proud distinction of being the first player to ever have his number (7) retired by the Rangers organization.
37. Kevin Stevens
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It's almost laughable to think that a player selected 108th overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft could turn into a back-to-back 50 goal scorer, but that's exactly what the Massachusetts native Kevin Stevens did during his career.
From 1991-1993 Stevens scored 54 and 55 goals respectively, book-ended by two 40-goal seasons as well—all four with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played for eight years.
After those impressive four seasons with the Pens, Stevens saw a dip in his production and never again reached even the 30-goal mark, which is mainly the reason he isn't as highly regarded as many of his peers.
He won two Cups in Pittsburgh where he proved he was a potent winger during his prime.
36. Rick Tocchet
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Remember the Pittsburgh Penguins 1992-93 season when Rick Tocchet scored 48 goals and 109 points? Neither do a lot of people, but Tocchet did have the best season of his career that year—also chipping in with 252 PIMs—and doesn't get remembered for it enough.
He had a quiet 440 goals and 952 points, but there was a lot more volume for each of his 2,972 penalty minutes that he collected during his 18-year career with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals—for 13 games—and Phoenix Coyotes.
Tocchet earned his keep in the NHL, and you can bet his opponents seldom forgot about him.
35. Neal Broten
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There's a good chance you've never heard of Neal Broten, let alone are aware of what he was able to do during a pretty solid NHL career from 1981-1997.
Broten was most notably a member of the Minnesota North Stars, where he began his career and spent the majority of it. He also spent time with the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils in his final three seasons.
His best seasons were his first two, recording back-to-back 30-goal seasons, but he was pretty consistent throughout. Broten finished with 289 goals and 923 points in 1,099 games, as one of the best players ever in the organization.
34. Andy Moog
When you think of the NHL's top 15 winningest goaltenders of all time, Andy Moog probably isn't a guy that comes to mind. But in fact, with 372 wins, he sits 14th all-time.
Moog played for four teams in his career—Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, and Montreal Canadiens—and was a three-time Stanley Cup champion (1984, 1985, 1987).
What might be most impressive of Moog's career is he won so many games, while playing so few. He played just 713 games, the fewest of any goalie ever with more than 315 wins. Moog simply won games, with his best season being 1992-93 with the Bruins, where he won 37 of 55 games (37-14-3).
He never was one to put up awe-inpsiring statistics—finishing his career with a 3.13 GAA—but the man just flat out won games, and did it with the best of them.
33. Gump Worsley
Gump Worsley may be known around the league as the goalie who amassed the most losses in history (tied with Curtis Joseph at 352), but "The Gumper" was so much more than just a netminder who piled up loses.
He was a rock between the pipes, and didn't wear a mask throughout his entire career. One of last to ever do so.
Worsley is tenth in games played for goalies with 861 in his career from 1952-1974, and didn't do too badly when it comes to achievements.
He was a four time Stanley Cup winner—winning all four in a five-year span between 1965-1969—and managed to win the Vezina Trophy twice, in 1966 and 1968. He was then inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.
Not bad for the NHL's all-time *loser.
*A record he won't hold for long, as with just three more loses, Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur will become the NHL's leader in career loses.
32. Bill Barber
Bill Barber helped the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 while scoring 420 goals and 883 points in his quick 12-year career, all with the Flyers.
Barber scored 20 goals in every one of those seasons, but what's more impressive is he hit the 30-goal mark in nine of his first ten seasons—not to mention he was a five-time 40-goal scorer as well. His best season was 1975-76, when he potted 50 goals and 112 points.
He was forced into an early retirement due to knee surgery, but there is no doubt that during his days he was one of the most prolific and consistent scorers we've ever seen in the NHL, finishing with 420 goals in 903 career games. He added 53 more goals in 129 playoff games.
31. Charlie Simmer
Charlie Simmer was a member of the ever-popular "Triple Crown Line" for the Los Angeles Kings—along with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor—from 1978-1985. Though his career was cut short by numerous injuries, he still managed to put up some impressive numbers in just 712 games.
His most impressive career achievement was back-to-back 56-goal seasons in 1979-1981, which were his only two 100-plus point seasons (101, 105). He ended his career with 342 goals and 711 points, and certainly falls under the category of what could have been had he been able to enjoy a full career.
30. Dave Taylor
The other member of the famous Triple Crown Line not named Marcel Dionne was Dave Taylor, who served as the Los Angeles Kings captain from 1985-1989—a place he played for his entire 17-year career.
Taylor played a rather symmetrical 1,111 games—a Kings record—and over that time, scored 431 goals, 1,069 points, and an efficient 1,589 PIMs.
His best season was 1980-81 when he potted 47 goals and 112 points, a time when the trio was at their dominant best. He retired from the game in 1994, walking away as one of the best Kings to ever play and having the distinction of being a part of one of the coolest-named lines in history.
29. Reed Larson
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Though he may not have the popularity that one of the top 30 scoring defenseman in NHL history should have, Reed Larson in fact sits 27th amidst some of the greatest to ever play the game along the blue line.
Larson scored 222 goals and 685 points in his impressive career, and is one of only three top 30 scoring blueliners to have played less than 1,000 games—he accomplished what he did on just 904.
His best season offensively was in 1982-83 with the Detroit Red Wings, where he potted 22 goals and 74 points. He had five-straight seasons of 20 goals between 1979-1984.
28. George Hainsworth
Though George Hainsworth is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time, he's underrated today because of how long ago he played. But don't let that fool you, what Hainsworth did during his short time in the NHL is downright incredible.
He played in the league from 1926-1937, appearing in just 465 games, but sits third all-time in shutouts with 94. That's right, he recorded a shutout in nearly one of every four games he played, and one in every two wins. Only Martin Brodeur (116) and Terry Sawchuck (103) have more.
In 1928-29, he played 44 games for the Montreal Canadiens, and had 22 wins. Every one of those wins was a shutout. That doesn't even seem possible, but Hainsworth did it, in what might be the most incredible season ever played by a goalie.
He went on to be a two-time Stanley Cup champion (1930, 1931) and a three-time Vezina Trophy winner (1927, 1928, 1929).
One of the all-time greats, yes, but underrated because of just how long ago it was.
27. Joe Nieuwendyk
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Joe Nieuwendyk is one of ten players in NHL history to win three Stanley Cups with three different teams. He did it with the Calgary Flames (1989), Dallas Stars (1999), and New Jersey Devils (2003). He also did it in three different decades.
He was drafted 27th overall in 1985 by the Calgary Flames, and played his rookie season in 1987-88. He scored 51 goals—just the third player then to hit the 50-mark their first year—and won the Calder Trophy. His next season he scored an identical 51 goals, and was cemented in Flames history as one of the most beloved players ever.
But because of that love for Nieuwendyk, some seem to forget how good he really was. He finished his career with 564 goals and 1,126 points in 1,257 games. Along with the Flames, Stars and Devils, he also suited up as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers before calling it a career in 2007.
He walked away with a pretty impressive list of achievements, including three Cups, an Olympic Gold Medal with Canada in 2002, Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe (1999) and King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1995).
He now works as the GM for the Dallas Stars.
26. Dennis Maruk
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What stands out about a player who scored a pedestrian 878 points (356 goals, 522 assists) during his career? Well, for Dennis Maruk, it was the fact that he did it in just 888 career games.
In 1980-81, Maruk scored 50 goals as a member of the Washington Capitals, and then to top that, he scored 60 the next season.
Not bad for a player who played a full season just five times in his entire career.
25. Yvan Cournoyer
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Yvan Cournoyer is a classic member of the Montreal Canadiens—a team he played for his entire career from 1963-1979—and is not given enough credit for what he was able to accomplish.
They called him "The Roadrunner" because of his small stature and ability to fly down the ice.
He was a three-time 40-goal scorer and finished his career with 428 goals in 968 games. His 863 points are nothing to scoff at either. Cournoyer is loved in Montreal for what he helped the team do during the sixties and seventies, including 12-straight 20-goal seasons.
And you can't forget the ridiculous success Cournoyer and the Canadiens had during his time there, which included 10 Stanley Cups—making him the player with the second most next to Henri Richard—a number that no player could even dream of, let alone fathom as reality.
He was also an integral part of the 1972 Summit Series win for Canada.
When it comes to his trophy case, Cournoyer's career was one of the greatest ever, which is why it's puzzling that he's not given more praise outside of Montreal.
24. Brian Bellows
In his first 12 seasons in the NHL, Brian Bellows scored less than 30 goals just twice, so needless to say, the man knew how to find the back of the net.
Bellows began his career as a Minnesota North Star in in 1982-83, when he scored 35 goals and 65 points in his rookie season. His best year was in 1989-90, when he potted 55 goals and 99 points with the North Stars.
He played his last game in 1999 with the Washington Capitals, and left with career numbers of 485 goals and 1,022 points in 1,188 games.
He was apart of the 1993 Stanley Cup winning Montreal Canadiens team, and he helped lead his teams to the Finals twice more, in 1991 with the North Stars and 1998 with the Capitals. He recorded 51 goals and 122 points in 143 career playoff games.
23. Brian Propp
Brian Propp was drafted 14th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft—one of the best drafts in history—and began his playing career that season. He pumped in 34 goals and 75 points, and went on to be a fantastic player for the Flyers until the 1989-90 season, when he was traded to the Boston Bruins.
He played just 14 games there before heading to the Minnesota North Stars for three years, and wrapped up his 15-year career in 1993-94 as a member of the Hartford Whalers.
His regular season statistics are impressive, with 425 goals and 1,004 points in 1,016 games, but even better were his numbers in the playoffs, as he retired as one of the most productive postseason performers of all time.
Propp played in an unbelievable five Stanley Cup Finals without winning one, but recorded 64 goals and 148 points in 160 playoff games. He sits 28th all-time in points in the playoffs.
He may not have been a champion, but Propp proved his worth plenty in the NHL.
22. Darryl Sittler
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He may be one of the most celebrated Toronto Maple Leafs of all time, but for the rest of the NHL, Darryl Sittler may not be as well known, nor respected as he should be.
He was drafted eighth-overall by the Leafs in 1970, and was their captain five years later. He immediately become an integral part of their offense, hitting the 30-goal plateau in eight of the 11 seasons he was there.
He reached the 40-goal mark five times, including his career-high 45 in 1977-78. He recorded 117 points that season, not to mention his 100 PIMs. He was the heart and soul of not only the team, but the entire city for years, and to this day is loved unconditionally by fans and current players.
He showed exactly what it was to be a captain of a team, and lives in Toronto to this day, regularly attending Leafs games and receiving the regular standing ovation.
He's most remembered around the league for his incredible game against the Boston Bruins in 1976 at Maple Leaf Gardens. He registered six goals and four assists, a mark never reached before in the NHL, and a record that still stands today.
But Sittler's career was so much more than just that one game. He retired in 1985 with 484 goals and 1,121 points in just 15 seasons (1,096 games), and averaged 1.02 points per game in that time.
21. Bernard Federko
It only took until his third season before Bernard Federko become a legitimate scoring talent in the NHL. In 1978-79 he tallied 31 goals—which he did for four straight seasons—and 95 points. But his most incredible feat may have been that he recorded 10 straight seasons in which he scored 50 or more assists.
Numbers that make it hard to believe Federko isn't more recognized across the NHL.
His best season was 1983-84 when he scored 41 goals and added 66 assists for 107 points.
Federko played 13 years for the St. Louis Blues before playing his final season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. He still managed to score 17 goals and 57 points in that final season before retiring.
Through it all, Federko scored 369 goals and 1,130 points in exactly 1,000 career games—the only player in history to finish his career at exactly 1,000 games.
20. Joe Mullen
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When talking about 500-goal scorers in NHL history, Joe Mullen's name probably isn't going to be one of the first names that come up—if it does at all—but the fact remains that he surpassed the mark during his 16-year career.
With 502 goals and 561 assists in his career, he sure knew how to get himself on the score sheet while playing for the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. He was a five-time 40-goal scorer, and in 1988-89 he scored 51 goals.
He was also a three-time Stanley Cup champion (1989, 1991, 1992) and Lady Byng Trophy winner twice (1987, 1989).
19. Doug Gilmour
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He might be the most beloved Toronto Maple Leaf in history, but he didn't just give reason for the hometown fans to respect him throughout his career; he put up numbers that are worthy of all-time great status. A status he's never really been given league-wide.
The man they called "Killer" finished his outstanding NHL career with 450 goals and 1,414 points—which puts him 17th all-time in career points—while punching his way to 1,301 PIM's from 1983-2003.
He began his career as a St. Louis Blue, and went on to play for the Calgary Flames, Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, and Montreal Canadiens. His final game was played in 2003 with the Leafs, after being traded back to the club for one last hurrah.
His return lasted just two shifts after getting injured on a freak play, but was able to end his career with the team he became a legend with—a team that eventually honoured his No. 93 in 2009.
He won a Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Flames, but was unable to duplicate the task again in his career—though he came close on various occasions.
He is most remembered for his clutch playoff performances, including his 1993 overtime goal in the second round of the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues. With the puck behind the net, he faked one way, then the other, than wrapped the puck around the net on the backhand to slide it in past a diving Curtis Joseph and send Maple Leaf Gardens into a frenzy seldom matched at any other point.
18. Trevor Linden
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He was named captain of the Vancouver Canucks as a 21-year-old—the youngest captain in franchise history—and became a hero in the city. Though he never lead the Canucks to a Stanley Cup, he played there for 16 years, while spending a short time with the Islanders, Canadiens and Capitals as well.
Linden played 1,382 career games, recording 375 goals and 867 points, and scored 99 points in 124 playoff games.
He scored 30 goals five times in his first six seasons, proving that he was an NHL-caliber talent as soon as he entered the league. At one point he also held the iron man streak when he played 482 consecutive games between 1990-1996, and though injuries caught up with him later in his career, while in his prime there weren't many who compared to Linden.
Linden retired in 2008 and left as one of the most beloved players any one team has had. His No. 16 jersey is retired in Vancouver.
17. Mark Howe
When you say Howe, you think Gordie, but Mr. Hockey wasn't the only member of his family to have success in the NHL—his son Mark Howe did alright for himself too.
Mark Howe was drafted 25th overall in 1974 by the Boston Bruins, but spent several years in the WHA before playing 16 seasons in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Detroit Red Wings. He was a small defenseman but tough like his father—he even played with Gordie on the Whalers for a season—and still managed to put up respectable numbers.
The 1994-95 season with the Red Wings was his last, and he finished his career with 197 goals and 742 points in 929 games, ranking him 22nd all-time in scoring for a defenseman—two points ahead of Scott Niedermayer, in 334 fewer games.
He was at his best as a member of the Flyers (1982-1992), where he helped reach the Finals in 1987 only to lose to Wayne Gretzky and his powerhouse Edmonton Oilers. Howe was a three-time finalist for the Norris Trophy (1983, 1986, 1987).
In 1985-86, Howe had the best season of his career with 24 goals and 82 points in 77 games, but those weren't even his most impressive numbers. Howe finished that season as a plus-85, a rating only bested by three players who you might have heard of—Bobby Orr (plus-124), Larry Robinson (plus-120), Wayne Gretzky (plus-98).
Howe ended his career a plus-400.
But Mark Howe's career has and always will be overshadowed by his father's, and probably will never get the type of respect he deserves because of it. But the fact remains, he was a fantastic player throughout his career, and certainly is one of the most underrated.
16. Pierre Turgeon
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They don't come much classier than Pierre Turgeon in the NHL, and the Quebec native had himself an incredible career.
Drafted first-overall in the 1987 Entry Draft, Turgeon jumped right into the league, and after playing 1,294 games with six teams—Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche—he finished his career in 2007 with some impressive numbers.
Having 515 goals and 1,327 points put him in the same breath as some of the greatest to ever play the game. His best season was 1992-93 with the Islanders when he scored 58 goals and 132 points—the second and only other time in his career he reached the 100-point plateau in a single season.
15. Vincent Damphousse
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Known most for his time as a Montreal Canadien—where he won a Stanley Cup in 1993—Vincent Damphousse had one of the most consistent, yet largely unnoticed, careers ever. He played for 18 seasons, originally drafted sixth-overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1986, and amassed some impressive numbers.
His career was defined by his leadership, but Damphousse didn't shy away from putting up points either. His career-high in points was during the 1992-93 season with 97. He reached his career-best in goals the very next year, netting 40.
He also chipped in with 104 points in 140 playoff games, to go along with his 1,205 points (432 goals, 773 assists) in 1,378 career games.
Though he's largely thought of now for his trouble with the law in Montreal, when he was playing, there is no denying that Damphousse was a classic, and much of what he did during his career still deserves to be recognized, even if his off-ice life doesn't seem worthy.
14. Steve Larmer
Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks 120th overall in the 1980 Entry Draft, Steve Larmer didn't exactly enter the league with the highest of expectations, but after his rookie season you can bet he had people's attention.
Larmer won the 1982-82 Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year, finishing with an impressive 43 goals and 90 points in 80 games. For the next 11 seasons, he didn't miss a single game for the Hawks—884 consecutively—until a contract dispute brought an end to the impressive run.
He retired after the 1994-95 season as a member of the New York Rangers, where he played for two years, and left the game with some pretty impressive numbers for anyone, let alone a sixth round draft pick.
In 1,006 games he amassed 441 goals, 1,012 points, and 532 PIMs. He was also a great player in the playoffs, recording 131 points in 140 games, including a Stanley Cup in 1994 with the Rangers. He never missed the postseason during his 13 year career, which is something not a lot of players can say—especially ones who played on one team for 11 years.
13. Pat Verbeek
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You'd think the only player in NHL history to have more than 500 goals and 2,500 penalty minutes would get a little bit more respect, but in the world of Pat Verbeek, that's not really the case. People seldom recall all he did while in the league, including his impressive 522 goals, 1,063 points and 2,905 PIMs.
He sure got a lot done in during the 20 years he called the NHL home, which saw him suit up for five different clubs (New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings).
Verbeek didn't mess around on the ice, and would go to any lengths to get the job done, whether that meant using his hands to score or fists to fight.
He was rewarded for his hard work in 1999, when he lifted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Stars for the first and only time.
12. Jean Ratelle
Jean Ratelle stands to the right of Jaromir Jagr
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Jean Ratelle split his successful career between two original six teams—the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins. He spent the first 14 years in the Big Apple, and another six in Boston before calling it a career in 1981.
He was a player that would shy away from the rough stuff—the most PIMs he ever had in one season was 28—but don't be fooled, Ratelle could get the job done in other areas, especially when it came to scoring.
Ratelle recorded 1,267 points (491 goals, 776 assists) in 1,281 games, and is known as one of the greatest Rangers to ever play, even if he's not recognized much outside of the organization.
Though he was never able to win a Cup during his career, he was apart of the legendary 1972 Canadian Team that won the Summit Series against the Soviet Union. He scored a goal and three helpers in the six games to help the Canadians overcome their powerful foe. That year was also his best in his NHL career, as he scored 46 goals and 109 points.
11. Larry Murphy
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So how was Larry Murphy underrated during his career? Well, put it this way: if Nicklas Lidstrom were to score 100 more points in his career, he still wouldn't catch the former defensive star.
Murphy is fifth all-time in scoring by a defenseman, 108 more than the current Norris candidate and captain of the Detroit Red Wings. Murphy finished his remarkable career with 287 goals and 1,216 points in 1,615 career games, while playing major roles with six different NHL teams.
The Scarborough, Ontario native won four Stanley Cups, winning back-to-back titles with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991, 1992) and the Red Wings (1997, 1998). He was a two-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy.
His best season in the NHL was 1992-93 with the Penguins, where he scored 22 goals and 85 points, before being a part of a disappointing playoff run as the club went for their third-straight Cup in the '90's.
Murphy is one of the greatest defenseman to ever play that game, but is often overshadowed by so many of the other greats.
10. Bernie Nicholls
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Drafted in the fourth-round (73rd overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in 1980, Bernie Nicholls didn't exactly come into the NHL expected to score over 1,200 points—but that's exactly what he did.
Nicholls scored 475 goals and 1,209 points in 1,127 games as a member of the Kings, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.
He had one of the best seasons of any player ever in 1988-89 while on the Kings. Nicholls scored a whopping 70 goals and 150 points in 79 games. He had hit the 100-point mark just once before then and never again reached it, but for that one year there was no doubt that Nicholls was one of the best players on earth.
His mind-blowing year was the first of Wayne Gretzky's in LA—proving just how good Gretzky made the players around him—but Nicholls was clearly an important member of the club before the arrival. He just had a bit of added help once the Great One was in town.
He retired in 1999 after a memorable career, and certainly one of the most underrated.
9. Norm Ullman
Norm Ullman was one of the first power forward-type players in the NHL, and he made a name for himself with the Detroit Red Wings, whom he began his career with in 1955-56. He went on to play there for 13 seasons before going to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he played for six more years before calling it quits.
Ullman scored 490 goals, 1,229 points, and 712 PIMs in his supreme career, and most certainly should be in the conversation when talking about the greatest centers to ever play. Scoring 20-or-more goals 16 times in your career will do that.
His 1,410 career games played is 29th in history.
8. Michel Goulet
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Michel Goulet was a scoring machine for the Quebec Nordiques, the team he began his career with in 1979-80. In his rookie year, Goulet had 22 goals and 54 points, then poured in 32 goals and 71 points before launching into one of the most successful seven-year spans a player could possibly have.
He scored 40-or-more goals in every one of those next seven seasons, including four-straight 50-goal years between 1982-1986 and a career-high 57 in 1982-83. He played two more years in Quebec before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1990.
He played there until 1994, when he sustained a career-ending injury in Montreal when he slid head-first into the boards, suffering a major concussion that forced him to retire with lingering symptoms.
His injury-shortened career was an impressive one nonetheless, as he still managed to score 548 goals and 1,152 points in 15 seasons.
Goulet was a star, but is largely remembered for how his career ended rather than what he did during his playing days.
7. John Bucyk
He played the first two seasons of his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, but in 1957 Johnny Bucyk was traded to the Boston Bruins—for Terry Sawchuk—and never looked back. He played the next 21 years in the league with the Bruins, and retired after the 1977-78 season as the highest-scoring left-winger in NHL history—later surpassed by Luc Robitaille.
Bucyk scored 556 goals and 1,369 points in his long, illustrious career (1,540 games) and helping the Bruins win two Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972.
At age 35 he had his best season (1970-71) when he scored 51 goals and 116 points, which made him the oldest player ever to hit the 50-goal mark.
They called him "The Chief" in Boston, and after looking at what he was able to accomplish there, it's easy to understand why.
6. Dale Hawerchuk
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Dale Hawerchuk is one of the most underrated players in NHL history, there's just no way to get around it. He played 1,188 games, and tallied a mind-boggling 1,409 points (518 goals, 891 assists), sitting him with some pretty impressive company—company that tends to get more recognition than himself.
He most famously played for the Winnipeg Jets, but also donned the sweaters of the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers.
Hawerchuk began his career in 1982, where he won the Calder Trophy after scoring 45 goals and 103 points—then the youngest player ever to hit the 100-point mark. He scored 100 points or more in six of his first seven season, including his 121-point season in 1987-88.
He never won a Stanley Cup, and in fact, was only a part of a team to make it passed the second round of the playoffs once in his career—in 1997, when he and the Flyers went all the way to the Finals.
Hawerchuk sits 18th all-time in career points.
5. Alex Delvecchio
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When you have a statue built in your honour and your number is retired, you know you're good—but outside of Detroit, Alex Delvecchio is hardly recognized as highly as he should be.
He was the captain of the Red Wings for 12 years, and played his entire 23-year career (1951-1974) in Hockeytown. His 1,549 career games is tenth-most in history, and with 456 goals and 1,281 points, three Stanley Cups (1952, 1954, 1955), and 13 All-Star Game appearances, his career is one of the most impressive there's ever been.
Delvecchio never scored more than 83 points in one season, but because he was so consistent for so long, he managed to put up such lofty numbers. In his final full season in the NHL—as a 42-year-old—Delvecchio scored 18 goals and 71 points in 77 games.
Already heralded as one of the all-time Red Wings, Delvecchio deserves to be known league-wide as one of the best captains and players to ever have played the game.
4. Dino Ciccarelli
Many people know of Dino Ciccarelli as one of the best players to have never won a Stanley Cup, but most probably don't know just how good he really was.
Ciccarelli played 19 seasons in the NHL, starting his career un-drafted with the Minnesota North Stars—a place where he played for eight seasons—before stints in Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Florida.
He scored a whopping 608 goals—17th most all-time—along with 1,200 points in 1,232 games. He didn't shy away from the physical game either, piling up 1,425 PIMs.
His first full NHL season was his most impressive. Ciccarelli scored 55 goals, 106 points, and 138 PIMs, which were all career-highs. He scored more than 30 goals 11 times, 40 goals six times, and 50 goals twice.
He was a dominant player in every sense of the word, and yet he never really got the respect he deserved both during and after his illustrious career. He wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame until eight years after being eligible, and that's rough for one of 18 players in history to reach the 600-goal mark.
He had his difficulties with the law, which overshadowed some of his achievements, including spending a day in jail after being convicted of assault in an incident where he attacked Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Richardson with his stick, but there was no doubting his talent.
Ciccarelli was one of the best scorers ever—scoring two less than one of the most adored, Bobby Hull—and rarely gets the recognition he deserves.
3. Adam Oates
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Adam Oates is known for his incredible passing ability, but when it comes right down to it, he was without a doubt one of the greatest to ever play the game. He understood more than just how to put up points, and was an integral part of every team he played for in his 19-year NHL career.
Oates was a playmaker in every sense of the word, and managed to keep a pretty clean record; a six-time finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy.
He sits 16th in career scoring with 1,420 points (341 goals, 1,079 assists), and sixth in career assists—one of 11 players in history to hit the 1000-assist mark.
He never did win a Stanley Cup during his career, but is the highest-scoring player never to win one in history—so hey, that's something.
It's simply mind-boggling that Oates has not yet been elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame—having been eligible since 2007—while others that did far less individually than him continue to get in. His day will come, surely, but for now, it only adds to just how underrated Oates is.
2. Mike Gartner
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For a player who scored 708 goals in his career, you'd think Mike Gartner would be considered royalty when it comes to NHL alumni, but his name is seldom mentioned with the greatest players in the game. Gartner was, without argument, one of the most talented players to ever step foot on the ice.
He sits sixth all-time in goals, and his 1,335 points are 30th. Gartner holds the NHL record for most 30-goal seasons (17) and the most consecutive 30-goal seasons (15). He was the first New York Ranger to score 40 goals in three-straight years, and hit the 50-goal mark once, in 1984-85 as a member of the Washington Capitals.
He also has the distinction of being the first player to score his 500th goal, 500th assists, and 1000th point all in the same season.
Despite all his success, he never once won an award during is 19-year career. He also never won a Stanley Cup, nor did he ever play in the Stanley Cup Finals—sitting only behind Phil Housley for most games played without a Cup.
Gartner played eight seasons with the Capitals, two with the Minnesota North Stars, five with the Rangers, three with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and two with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Hard to believe Gartner doesn't get the appreciation that many of the all-time scorers do, but if there's one guy who deserves it; it's him.
1. Ron Francis
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Yes, Ron Francis.
And before you completely freak out and discount everything you've just read, take a breath and ask yourself this question: Where does Ron Francis sit when it comes to all-time points in NHL history?
Don't Google it, just think hard.
Now if you answered fourth-overall in career points, right behind Wayne Gretzky (2,857 points), Mark Messier (1,887 points), and Gordie Howe (1,850 points), you're right. Francis finished his career with 1,798 points.
Francis defined what it meant to be a great player, yet we rarely—if ever—consider him in the same breath as the three men who are ahead of him in points. He is, without a doubt, the most underrated player in NHL history. And if you need more evidence, get a load of this.
Along with being fourth all-time in points, Francis is second in career assists with 1,249, third in career games played with 1,731, and 21st all-time in goals with 549. He is a three-time Lady Byng Trophy winner (1995, 1998, 2002), the 1995 Selke Trophy winner, and a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991, 1992).
Francis played 23 seasons and averaged a point-per-game through it all. Guys just don't do that all that often. He's arguably the most consistent player to ever play, considering he piled up over 1,700 points while scoring over 100 points in a season just three times.
Francis isn't just underrated now, he was during the prime of his career too. You'd think a player in the top five in all-time scoring would have been a regular at the NHL All-Star Game, but Francis was selected just four times (1983, 1985, 1990, 1996). Even then, he wasn't shown the respect he deserved—and then some.
He was drafted fourth-overall (coincidence?) by the Hartford Whalers in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, and jumped right into NHL action, scoring 25 goals and 68 points in 59 games. He became the captain of the Whalers in 1985 and led them for nearly six seasons before being traded to the Penguins in 1991. He went on to help them lift the Cup in back-to-back years, and captained the club twice during his seven seasons there.
In 1998 he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes—returning to the franchise that drafted him—and spent the next years with them—again, named their captain—before finishing his career with a brief stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2004.
He played 171 career playoff games and tallied 46 goals and 143 points in that time. Francis was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
He was, without argument, one of the greatest leaders to ever step on the ice. Some may forget his point production, but few fail to remember the leadership qualities he displayed until the day he retired.
All that, and still Francis is forgotten so often during discussion of the greatest players to ever play the game. Frankly, that may be the way he likes it too. A players who showed such class, such humility, and such grace throughout his entire career probably couldn't care less about what people say—or forget to say—about him these days.
Besides, Francis doesn't need to do much talking. His resume speaks for itself.