NHL: 50 Most Clutch Players in History

Erik PaulCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

NHL: 50 Most Clutch Players in History

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    EDMONTON, CANADA - NOVEMBER 22:  Wayne Gretzky #99 of the Edmonton Oilers and teammate Mark Messier #11 pose for a photo with Guy Lafleur #10 of the Montreal Canadiens during the Molson Canadien Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadiu
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    It's time for playoff hockey, and time for a look through NHL history at the most clutch performers of all time.

    There are single-occasion clutch performances that didn't quite make the list—like Bill Barilko's Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1951, after which he mysteriously disappeared in a plane crash. His story was immortalized in the Tragically hip song Fifty Mission Cap.

    Bobby Baun is another player with a one-time clutch performance that doesn't quite make the list. In 1964, Baun broke his leg in Game Six of the Stanley Cup finals, but returned to score the overtime winner. His Toronto Maple Leafs won the following game to claim the Cup.

    A third incredibly clutch moment is one that's familiar to every Canadian hockey fan: Paul Henderson's overtime goal to win the 1972 Summit Series. "Here's another shot, right in front. He scores! Henderson!"

    So, who does make the top 50 most clutch players in NHL history?

    Follow Erik on Twitter: @ekpaul87

50. Brad Richards

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    TAMPA, FL - JUNE 7:  Brad Richards #19 of the Tampa Bay Lightning receives the Conn Smythe MVP trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after defeating the Calgary Flames 2-1 in game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 7, 2004 at the St. Pete Tim
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Brad Richards isn't a player who immediately pops to mind when thinking of clutch players, but his performance in the 2004 playoffs was the stuff of legends.

    Richards set an NHL record with seven game-winning goals during Tampa Bay's run to the Stanley Cup. He was deservedly rewarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy.

49. Mel Hill

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    Image Source: http://icehockey.wikia.com/wiki/Mel_Hill
    Image Source: http://icehockey.wikia.com/wiki/Mel_Hill

    Mel Hill was a right winger for the Boston Bruins in the 1930s and 1940s. He earned the nickname "Sudden Death" by scoring three overtime winners in a series in 1939, en route to a Cup win by the Bruins.

48. Tom Barrasso

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    22 Mar 1998:  Goaltender Tom Barrasso of the Pittsburgh Penguins in action during a game against the Dallas Stars at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The Stars and Penguins tied 0-0. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Goalie Tom Barrasso anchored the Pittsburgh Penguins through back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 1991 and 1992. During the 1992 and 1993 playoffs, Barrasso set an NHL record that still stands with 14 consecutive playoff wins.

    Barrasso was also clutch as a rookie in 1984, winning the Calder and Vezina trophies.

47. Sidney Crosby

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    DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins holds the Stanley Cup following the Penguins victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (P
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Penguins' captain already has a trophy case boasting an Art Ross, Hart, Rocket Richard, Lester B. Pearson and a Stanley Cup. He is the youngest captain to ever win a Stanley Cup.

    He's fourth all-time in playoff points per game, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Barry Pederson.

    To top it off, Crosby scored the "Golden Goal" in sudden death overtime to give Canada the Olympic Gold medal in Vancouver in 2010.

    Watch for Crosby to move well up this list as his career continues.

46. Cam Ward

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    RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 19:  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presents goaltender Cam Ward #30 of the Carolina Hurricanes the Conn Smythe trophy after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in game seven of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 19, 2006 at the RBC Cente
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    In his first career trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Cam Ward led the Carolina Hurricanes to their first Cup victory with a Conn Smythe-winning performance.

    In his only other trip to the playoffs, Ward helped the Canes upset the heavily-favorited New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

45. Grant Fuhr

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    EDMONTON, CANADA - OCTOBER 9:  Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr #31 of the Edmonton Oilers waves to the crowd during his number retirement ceremony at the Skyreach Center October 9, 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  (Photo by Ian Tomlinson/Getty Images)
    Ian Tomlinson/Getty Images

    As the backbone of the 1980s Edmonton Oilers, Grant Fuhr was often left to fend for himself while everyone else played offense.

    Fuhr was famous for making the big save at the right time, which allowed the Oilers' potent offense to take over the game/series.

44. Jonathan Toews

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presents Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks with the Conn Smythe Trophy after teammate Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 and win the
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season, Jonathan Toews became the second-youngest captain to ever win the Stanley Cup.

    Toews also won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. Earlier that season, Toews was named the Olympic tournament's top forward.

    In 2007, Toews became famous for scoring three times in three chances in a shootout in the World Junior Hockey Championship.

43. Raymond Bourque

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    4 Oct 2001:  Ray Bourque #77 of the Boston Bruins uncovers his number during a ceremony in which the Bruins retired his number before their home opener against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts. <DIGITAL IMAGE>    Manda
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    For 21 years, Raymond Bourque and the Boston Bruins were one and the same. He led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals in 1988 and 1990, but they were beaten by the Edmonton Oilers dynasty both years.

    Bourque was traded to Colorado in 2000, and in 2001, he won his first Stanley Cup in his final NHL game.

42. Johnny Bucyk

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    BOSTON - FEBRUARY 13:  John 'the Chief' Bucyk waves to the crowd during a ceremony to honor his fifty years with the Boston Bruins organization before the game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Boston Bruins on February 13, 2007 at the TD Banknorth Gard
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Johnny Bucyk is another player who represented the black-and-gold for more than 20 years. Bucyk was a key component of the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and 1972, scoring 39 points in 29 games.

    Bucyk still owns the Bruins' all-time record for goals scored with 545.

41. Glenn Anderson

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    INGLEWOOD, CA - 1988-89:  Glenn Anderson #9 of the Edmonton Oilers follows the play during a game circa 1988-89 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Glenn Anderson was an instrumental supporting player in the Edmonton Oilers' five Stanley Cup wins. He then went on to win a sixth Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994.

    Anderson scored five career playoff overtime winning goals, third all-time (behind Joe Sakic and Rocket Richard). He also had 17 playoff game-winning goals, good for fifth all-time.

40. Henrik Zetterberg

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    PITTSBURGH - JUNE 04: Stanley Cup Playoff MVP, Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the Conn Smythe trophy after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Mellon Arena on June 4, 2008 in Pitt
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Henrik Zetterberg is one of the most clutch players in the game today. In the last four playoff seasons, Zetterberg has 80 points in 75 games, including a Conn Smythe Trophy.

    Zetterberg's also part of the Triple Gold Club, having won a Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold and a World Championship.

39. Brian Leetch

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    7 JUN 1994: RANGER''S DEFENSEMAN BRIAN LEETCH LAUNCHES A SHOT ON A BREAKAWAY IN THE FIRST PERIOD OF GAME FOUR OF THE STANLEY CUP FINALS AT THE PACIFIC COLISEUM IN VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA. LEETCH''S ATTEMPT WAS STOPPED BY CANUCKS GOALTENDER KIRK MCLEAN
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Defenseman Brian Leetch is one of the best offensive defensemen ever. He's one of five D-men to ever score 100 points in a season.

    What makes him clutch, though, is his performance in 1994. Leetch scored 34 points in 23 games, en route to helping the New York Rangers break a 54 year Stanley Cup drought. Leetch was given the Conn Smythe Trophy for his performance.

    Leetch finished his career with a playoff points-per-game above one.

38. Jean-Sebastien Giguere

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 06:  Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere #35 of the Anaheim Ducks hoists the Stanley Cup after his team's victory over the Ottawa Senators 6-2 in Game Five of the n June 6, 2007 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Bruce Ben
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Jean-Sebastien Giguere was fantastic in 2007 when he won his first career Stanley Cup, but what gets him on this list is his performance in 2003.

    Giguere led the Western Conference's seventh-seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (before the name lost the "Mighty") within a game of the Stanley Cup, despite not having a single player post eight goals or 14 points.

    Giguere had 1.62 goals-against-average and a .945 save percentage, along with five shutouts, in one of the most impressive playoff goaltending performances ever.

37. Yvan Cournoyer

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    MONTREAL- DECEMBER 4:  Former Montreal Canadien Yvan Cournoyer skates during the Centennial Celebration ceremonies prior to the NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins on December 4, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Yvan "The Roadrunner" Cournoyer is tied for second in NHL history with 10 Stanley Cup wins. 1973 was his best year in the playoffs. He scored 15 goals and 10 assists in 17 games to win a Conn Smythe Trophy.

    Cournoyer is also one of only two Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup in every season in which he was captain.

36. Larry Robinson

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    MONTREAL - NOVEMBER 19:  Larry Robinson and players of the Montreal Canadiens raise his #19 up into the rafters during his jersey retirement ceremony before the NHL game of the Montreal Canadiens against the Ottawa Senators at Bell Centre on November 19,
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    "Big Bird" made the playoffs in 20 consecutive seasons as a player, which included him winning six Stanley Cups and one Conn Smythe Trophy.

    Larry Robinson's Conn Smythe Trophy came in 1978 when he scored 21 points in 15 games.

    Robinson also played well in several Canada Cups.

35. Jaromir Jagr

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    3 Nov 1995: Rightwinger Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on during a game against the Buffalo Sabres at Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York. The game was a tie, 3-3.
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    "Mini Mario" was picked in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. He had an immediate impact, posting 13 and 24 playoff points while winning back-to-back Stanley Cups.

    Jaromir Jagr hasn't won another Stanley Cup since then, but he has become a member of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympics, World Championship) and has moved to 11th place in all-time playoff points.

34. Phil Esposito

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    19 Jan 1996:  Wielding a double bladed stick, Gordie Howe #9 of the NHL Heroes checks Phil Esposito #7 of the Boston Bruins Heroes from behind during the second period of the NHL Heroes of Hockey game played at the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts. M
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Phil Esposito was instrumental to the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and 1972, as well as to Canada's 1972 Summit Series win.

    Esposito put up 137 career playoff points in 130 games.

33. Martin Brodeur

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 9:  Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils raises the Stanley Cup after defeating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in game seven of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals at Continental Airlines Arena on June 9, 2003 in East Rutherford, Ne
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Martin Brodeur just wins, plain and simple. He's won three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and four Vezina Trophies.

    Brodeur is second in NHL history in playoff wins and is tied for first in career playoff shutouts.

32. Jacques Lemaire

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    Image Source: http://www.hhof.com/legendsofhockey/
    Image Source: http://www.hhof.com/legendsofhockey/

    Jacques Lemaire won eight Stanley Cups in 12 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, including four straight in his final four NHL seasons.

    Lemaire is one of only six players in NHL history to score two Stanley Cup-winning goals.

31. Scott Stevens

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 9:  Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils holds up the Stanley Cup after beating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in game seven of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals at Continental Airlines Arena on June 9, 2003 in East Rutherford, New Jer
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Scott Stevens wasn't clutch in the prototypical way of scoring a big goal at an important time. It was his style of play that made him clutch.

    Stevens' monstrous hits would change the momentum of a game and a series. The most remembered one was on Eric Lindros, and essentially destroyed his career.

    Stevens captained three Stanley Cup-winning teams, and was awarded one Conn Smythe.

30. Dominik Hasek

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    PITTSBURGH - MAY 2:  Martin Straka #82 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates around goaltender Dominik Hasek #39 of the Buffalo Sabres in Game four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs on May 2, 2002 at Mellon Arena in Pit
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    If you could choose only one goaltender in history for a single game, it might well be Dominik Hasek. Hasek only won one Stanley Cup as a starter, but it could have easily been more if he hadn't spent his prime with the Buffalo Sabres.

    Hasek did win six Vezinas and two Hart Trophies (only goalie to ever do that). He also had one of the great performances ever in the 1998 Winter Olympics, posting a 0.97 goals-against-average and a .961 save percentage while helping the Czech Republic claim an unexpected gold medal.

29. Billy Smith

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    UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 4:  Memebers of the 1980 New York Islanders pose for a team photo during a ceremony honoring the 25th anniversary of the Islanders first Stanley Cup victory held on March 4, 2006 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Billy Smith starred as the goalie of the New York Islanders during their dynasty in the early 1980s.

    During the Isles' final Cup win in the 1982-1983 season, he allowed only six goals in a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers—a team that included Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey.

    He won the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts.

28. Jacques Plante

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    MONTREAL- APRIL 19:  A photo of the banners commemorating the retired jerseys of Jacque Plante, Bernard Geoffrion and Jean Beliveau hanging in the Bell Centre prior to Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Washington Capitals and
    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Jacques Plante led the Montreal Canadiens to five straight Stanley Cups from 1956 to 1960, and he's arguably the greatest goalie in Canadiens' history.

    Plante was the first goalie to wear a mask, the first to play the puck outside his crease and the first to yell to his defensemen as a warning of tight coverage. He revolutionized the way the position is played.

27. Jari Kurri

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    EDMONTON, CANADA - NOVEMBER 22:  Jari Kurri #17 of the Edmonton Oilers looks to make a play against Lucen Deblois #27 of the Montreal Canadiens during the Molson Canadien Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada. T
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Many consider Jari Kurri as "Wayne Gretzky's wingman," but he was much more than that. Kurri was one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, while still scoring at a ridiculous rate.

    In the 1985 playoffs, Kurri scored 19 goals, tying the all-time record for goals in a playoff season. He set another record that playoff season, scoring four hat-tricks en route to his second of five career Stanley Cup wins.

26. Al MacInnis

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    20 Feb 2002: Jere Lehtinen #26 of Finland lets go a shot that Al MacInnis #2 of Canada prepares to block during the men's quarterfinals at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the E Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit:
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Al MacInnis' performances in the 1986 and 1989 playoffs are almost the only reasons that the 1980s Edmonton Oilers aren't considered the best team ever, outright.

    MacInnis led the Calgary Flames past the Oilers in both seasons, with 1986 resulting in a Cup Finals loss to Montreal, and 1989 resulting in the Flames' only Stanley Cup in franchise history.

    MacInnis became the first defenseman to ever lead the playoffs in scoring with 31 points, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

    MacInnis didn't win another Cup, but was a central figure on the blueline for Team Canada's Olympic gold medal-winning team in 2002.

25. Joe Nieuwendyk

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 9:   Joe Nieuwendyk #25 of the New Jersey Devils raises the Stanley Cup after defeating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in game seven of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals at Continental Airlines Arena on June 9, 2003 in East Rutherford, N
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Joe Nieuwendyk is one of only 10 players to ever win a Stanley Cup on three different teams. He's also in an extremely small sample of players to win the Cup in three different decades.

    Nieuwendyk also won a Conn Smythe as a member of the Dallas Stars in 1999.

24. Jack Darragh

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    Image Source: http://www.goaliesarchive.com/
    Image Source: http://www.goaliesarchive.com/

    If you don't know who Jack Darragh is, don't be surprised. The farthest-back player on this list, Darragh played for the Ottawa Senators from 1910 to 1924.

    Darragh won four Stanley Cups overall, including three in four years from 1920 to 1923. Most impressively, Darragh had back-to-back Cup-winning goals in 1920 and 1921.

    Unfortunately, he died shortly after the end of the 1923-24 season due to a ruptured appendix.

23. Brett Hull

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    19 Jun 1999:  Goalie Dominik Hasek #39 of the Buffalo Sabres misses the final puck which was shot by Brett Hull #22 of the Dallas Stars during the Stanley Cup Finals game at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Dallas Stars defeated the Sabr
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Brett Hull could almost always find a way to score when he needed to. His most famous goal was, arguably, the most disputed Stanley Cup-winning goal in NHL history.

    In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals in 1999, Hull scored in triple overtime to give the Dallas Stars the Cup, but replays showed his skate in the crease. At the time, a skate in the crease should have nullified the goal unless the player entered the crease with control of the puck, which is debatable.

    The goal counted, and Hull got his first Cup. He won a second Cup in 2002 with Detroit, as part of the "Two Kids and a Goat" line, comprising he, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

22. Guy Lafleur

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    EDMONTON, CANADA - NOVEMBER 22:  Guy Lafleur #10 of the Montreal Canadiens waits to skate onto the ice surface prior to taking on the Edmonton Oilers in the Molson Canadien Heritage Classic Megastars Game on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium in Ed
    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Guy "Flower"/"Le Demon Blond" Lafleur was one of the greatest players in Montreal Canadiens history. He led the Habs to five Stanley Cups in eight years, including four straight from 1976 to 1979.

    Lafleur won a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1977, and finished his career with over a point-per-game in the playoffs.

21. Terry Sawchuk

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    Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/puckpassion/3642973734/
    Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/puckpassion/3642973734/

    Terry Sawchuk is arguably the greatest goalie to ever play in the NHL. Sawchuk won four career Stanley Cups (three with Detroit, one with Toronto), and was incredible in the victories.

    In his first Cup-winning playoffs, Sawchuk allowed only five goals in eight games.

20. Steve Yzerman

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    DETROIT, MI - JUNE 13:  Commisioner Gary Bettman presents the Stanley Cup to captain Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings with his daughter Isabella after eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes during game five of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 13, 200
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Referred to in Detroit as simply "The Captain," Steve Yzerman is one of the greatest players of all time. He led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups in six years, including winning a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1998. Yzerman ranks ninth all-time in playoff points with 185.

    Yzerman also played a key role on gold medal-winning Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

19. Bryan Trottier

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    UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 02:  Bryan Trottier of 'The 'Core of the Four' New York Islanders Stanley Cup championships take part in a ceremony prior to the Islanders game against the Florida Panthers on March 2, 2008 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New Yo
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Bryan Trottier won six career Stanley Cups–four with the New York Islanders dynasty and two with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    While with the Islanders, Trottier was often considered the best player in the world. Trottier won a Conn Smythe in the Islanders' first Cup win in 1980 for posting 29 points in 21 games.

    Trottier's 184 career playoff points put him 10th-best in NHL history.

18. Reggie Leach

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    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net
    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net

    Reggie Leach was part of the "LCB" line in Philadelphia, where he won his only Stanley Cup championship in 1975.

    However, it was Leach's playoff performance the following season that truly solidified him as one of the most clutch players ever. Leach set an NHL record by scoring 19 goals in the playoffs that season, and he became the only non-goalie to ever receive the Conn Smythe Trophy in a losing effort.

    Leach's 19 goal record still stands today, although it's been matched by Jari Kurri.

17. Denis Potvin

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    UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 02:  Denis Potvin of 'The 'Core of the Four' New York Islanders Stanley Cup championships take part in a ceremony prior to the Islanders game against the Florida Panthers on March 2, 2008 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Denis Potvin was the captain and driving force behind the New York Islanders four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. Potvin scored 85 points in 78 playoff games over the four seasons while playing very physical and sound defense.

    Potvin still sits 19th in NHL history in playoff points.

16. Toe Blake

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    Image Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/
    Image Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/

    Toe Blake is often thought of as a coach more so than a player, but it was his greatness as a player that helped him become one of the best coaches of all-time.

    Blake won the Hart and Art Ross trophies in 1938-39, and scored the Stanley Cup-winning goals in 1944 and 1946. He ended his career with 62 points in 57 playoff games, in an era where goals were hard to come by.

15. Henri Richard

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    BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 15: Former Buffalo Sabres owner Seymour Knox III re-enacts the first puck drop at the first home game for the Buffalo Sabres 40 years ago on this date against  the Montreal Canadiens  against at HSBC Arena on October 15, 2010 in Buff
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Henri Richard wasn't the dominant force that some of the Montreal Canadiens greats have been, but he did one thing better than any of them–winning.

    "The Pocket Rocket" owns the record for most Stanley Cup victories with 11. He's tied with Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics for the most championships of any player in any North American professional sport.

14. Claude Lemieux

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    DALLAS - JUNE 10: Claude Lemieux #22 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates with the Stanley Cup Trophy as he skates around the rink after winning the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals game against the Dallas Stars at Reunion Arena on June 10, 2000 in Dallas, Texas. (
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Claude Lemieux will never be involved in a discussion about the best player ever, but his name comes up in almost any talk about the most clutch players ever.

    Lemieux was the definition of clutch: "dependable in crucial situations." He only topped 70 points twice in 20 seasons, but when playoffs began, he elevated his game like few others ever could.

    Lemieux won four Stanley Cups with three different teams in three different decades. He earned a Conn Smythe for his performance in New Jersey's win in 1995. Lemieux finished ninth in all-time playoff goal-scoring leaders.

13. Ken Dryden

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    MONTREAL- DECEMBER 4:  Former Montreal Canadien Ken Dryden skates during the Centennial Celebration ceremonies prior to the NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins on December 4, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The
    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Ken Dryden won five Stanley Cups in eight tries. He's the only NHL player to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy prior to winning the Calder Trophy as best rookie.

    Dryden only played seven full seasons in the NHL, but his dominance was virtually unparalleled. He won five Vezina Trophies in seven seasons, and was the backbone of the Montreal Canadiens dynasty in the 1970s.

    Also, Dryden was in net for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series victory.

12. Howie Morenz

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    MONTREAL- JANUARY 21:  A statue of Howie Morenz in Centennial Plaza outside of the Bell Centre, on January 21, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Howie Morenz was the first true superstar of the NHL. Morenz had two Stanley Cup-winning goals, three Cups and was the first player to ever win three Hart Trophies.

    Sadly, Morenz's leg was shattered in four places in 1937, ending his career suddenly and tragically. He died six weeks later due to a coronary embolism caused by blood clots in his broken leg.

    He was the first player to ever have his number retired by the Montreal Canadiens.

11. Bernie Parent

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    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net
    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net

    Bernie Parent was the first NHL player to ever win back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies. His performances in the playoffs in 1974 and 1975 helped the Philadelphia Flyers claim their only two Stanley Cups in franchise history.

    He won the Vezina Trophy both years as well, and in 1973-74, set a record for most wins in a season (47) that would stand until Martin Brodeur posted 48 in 2006-07.

10. Jean Beliveau

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    OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 01:  Former Montreal Canadiens great, Jean Beliveau speaks with the media during the 'Salute to the Stanley Cup Legends' on June 1, 2007 at the Brookstreet Hotel in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Jean Beliveau's combination of size and skill made him nearly unstoppable. He won 10 Stanley Cups in his 20 seasons in the NHL, including five as a captain.

    Beliveau was also the first player to ever receive the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. If the trophy had existed earlier in his career, he almost certainly would have won it more than once.

9. Gordie Howe

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    DETROIT - MARCH 11:  The jersey retirement banner for Gordie Howe #9 of the Detroit Red Wings (1946-1971) hangs in the rafters during a game against the Minnesota Wild on March 11, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Ge
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    "Mr. Hockey" won four Stanley Cups in six years in the early 1950s. If the Conn Smythe Trophy had existed, he surely would have won it in 1955, when he posted nine goals and 20 points in 11 games.

    Gordie Howe could, and would, do anything possible to win—whether it was scoring, hitting, passing or fighting—and he was one of the best at everything.

8. Joe Sakic

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    9 Jun 2001:  Joe Sakic #19 and Ray Borque #77  (right) of the Colorado Avalanche hold up the Stanley Cup after defeating the New Jersey Devils in game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.  The Avalanche won 3-1 to take
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Joe Sakic is known as one of the classiest players to ever play the game, but he was also one of the most clutch. In the 1996 playoffs, Sakic scored 18 goals (one short of the record) and 34 points, en route to winning his first career Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy. He also scored six game-winning goals in those playoffs, which set a record at the time.

    Sakic has also been extremely clutch in international play, winning a gold medal and being named MVP of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He's one of only two players to ever win a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold, World Championships, World Junior Championships and the World Cup of Hockey.

    Perhaps the most telling moment of Sakic's career was immediately after winning his second Stanley Cup in 2001. As captain, Sakic was presented with the Cup by Gary Bettman, but rather than lifting it, he passed it directly to Ray Bourque. It further showed the class and dignity that represented Joe Sakic.

7. Mike Bossy

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    UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 13: Former New York Islanders player Mike Bossy is announced as Executive Director of Corporate Relations for the New York Islanders on October 13, 2006 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty I
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Mike Bossy was an absolutely dominant scoring machine for the New York Islanders' dynasty in the early 1980s. He posted 61 goals and 111 points in just 71 games while claiming four straight Stanley Cups.

    Bossy earned a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1982 when he scored 17 goals and 18 assists in just 18 playoff games. It was his second of three consecutive playoffs with 17 goals—a feat no one else has ever accomplished.

    Bossy sits second all-time in playoff goals-per-game, amongst all players with 30 or more games played.

6. Maurice Richard

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    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net/
    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net/

    Maurice "Rocket" Richard could score almost at will. The first player to score 50 goals in 50 games was also the first to score 500 career goals, but the Rocket got it done in the playoffs even better.

    Richard won eight Stanley Cups, and would have won three or four Conn Smythe Trophies if it had existed. Richard was the biggest star of the 1956-60 Montreal Canadiens team that won five consecutive Stanley Cups.

    Richard still sits eighth all-time in playoff goals, 51 years after his last game.

5. Mark Messier

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    11 May 1997:  Center Mark Messier of the New York Rangers celebrates during a playoff game against the New Jersey Devils at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Rangers won the game 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello  /Allsport
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Mark Messier's most famous moment of clutch came in before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in 1994. Down 3-2 in the series, Messier publicly guaranteed his New York Rangers would win that game. He backed it up with a natural hat trick that overcame a two-goal deficit and forced a deciding Game 7.

    The Rangers won Game 7, advancing to the Stanley Cup finals where Messier scored the Cup-winning goal, making him the only player to ever captain two different teams to the Stanley Cup.

    Messier also won five Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, including a Conn Smythe Trophy-winning performance in 1983-84.

4. Mario Lemieux

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    MARIO LEMIEUX OF PITTSBURGH CONTROLS THE PUCK DURING THE PENGUINS GAME VERSUS THE LOS ANGELES KINGS AT THE GREAT WESTERN FORUM IN INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA.
    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    Arguably the most naturally talented player ever, Mario Lemieux was as clutch as they come. Lemieux put up 78 points in 38 games in the playoffs in 1991 and 1992, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

    Mario is one of only two players to ever win back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies (the other is Bernie Parent). Lemieux also has the highest playoff goals-per-game in NHL history (of anyone with more than 30 games played) with an astounding 0.710.

    Lemieux is also second all-time in playoff points-per-game with 1.607, behind only Wayne Gretzky. Lemieux's 44-point performance in 1991 is the second-best single season playoff scoring performance ever.

    In addition to Lemieux's Stanley Cups, one of his most clutch moments came when he scored the tournament-winning goal in the 1987 Canada Cup. He also captained Canada to gold medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

3. Wayne Gretzky

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    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net/
    Image Source: http://www.legendsofhockey.net/

    "The Great One" didn't become great just because of his regular season scoring. Wayne Gretzky is the greatest scorer in NHL history—regular season and playoffs.

    Gretzky has 87 points more than the next highest point-getter in playoff history. He has four Stanley Cups and two Conn Smythe Trophies to go along with his bounty of regular season accolades. Gretzky has the highest playoff points-per-game of anyone in NHL history at 1.837. Wayne holds 15 official NHL playoff records.

    The Great One also led Team Canada to victories in the 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups.

    Finally, he's got a Stanley Cup-winning goal to top it all off.

2. Bobby Orr

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    Image Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/
    Image Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/

    Bobby Orr forever changed the game of hockey. He revolutionized the way defensemen play in terms of joining the play offensively.

    Orr was unbelievably clutch as well. He only won two career Stanley Cups, but on both occasions, he scored the Cup-winning goals. Orr won two Conn Smythe Trophies to accompany each of his Stanley Cup wins, and he was the first player to ever win it twice.

    Orr also dominated the inaugural Canada Cup, leading Canada to victory and being named tournament MVP, while scoring nine points in seven games.

    Orr's Cup-winning goal shown in the picture has become one of the most iconic images in NHL history.

1. Patrick Roy

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    9 Jun 2001: Goalie Patrick Roy #33 of the Colorado Avalanche is presented the Conn Smythe Trophy by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after defeating the New Jersey Devils during the Stanley Cup finals at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche de
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    While this list was difficult to make, putting Patrick Roy at the top was the easiest decision of the entire process. Roy is far-and-away the most clutch player in NHL history.

    Roy is the only player to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy three times. He's won four Stanley Cups, and is the only goalie to win a Cup in three different decades. Roy has won the most playoff games of any goalie in NHL history with 151. In second place is Martin Brodeur with 99. Roy also leads in career playoff shutouts.

    Roy's most impressive performance came with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. The Canadiens team wasn't expected to win the first round, let alone the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens were often outplayed, but Roy kept the team alive, forcing overtime on several occasions. The Canadiens set a record that still stands today, posting 10 consecutive overtime wins during the 1993 playoffs.

    In the Stanley Cup finals, Roy was incredible. He shut down Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings, needing only five games to help the Canadiens claim the 24th Stanley Cup in franchise history.

    Follow Erik on Twitter: @ekpaul87