Hockey Hall of Fame: Doug Gilmour and the Top 20 Playmakers of the Last 25 Years

Keegan McNally@Keegan_McNallyCorrespondent IINovember 15, 2011

Hockey Hall of Fame: Doug Gilmour and the Top 20 Playmakers of the Last 25 Years

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    Doug Gilmour joined hockey's elite as he, Ed Belfour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk were inducted into the 2011 Hall of Fame class.

    Doug Gilmour was known for being an elite playmaker in the league, possessing a passing ability and vision that put him 12th all time in assists recorded. 

    So in his honor, let's look over the best playmakers, passers and PP QBs of the past 25 years, both former and current players.

Nicklas Lidstrom

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    Nicklas Lidstrom is going to go down as one of the greatest defensemen of all time when it's all said and done. 

    Lidstrom has all of the abilities that a defenseman should, including playmaking ability. He has amassed a total of 861 assists, including a 64-assist outing in 2005-06. 

    His ability to make the first breakout pass has been critical to Detroit's success for the past 20 years or so.

Ray Bourque

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    If you can believe it, Ray Bourque is fourth all time in NHL assists with 1, a defenseman. 

    Arguably in the top five defensemen of all time, Bourque was a franchise defenseman like no other. His playmaking and PP quarterback abilities mean that he has to be on this list. 

Al MacInnis

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    Although his shot is what made MacInnis a fear for goaltenders and defensemens' shins across the league, he actually possessed one of the more accurate passes of any NHL defenseman. 

    He is 15th on the all-time scoring list for assists with 934; his greatest total (75) came in 1990-91. 

    Now who wants to guess how many of those 934 were from tip-ins in front of the net?

Jason Spezza

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    Even without a true winger around him, Spezza has posted 11 assists so far this season. 

    When Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley lined up around him, Spezza was on fire, registering 71 assists in only 68 games in 2005-06.

    If he ever decides to leave Ottawa, a lot of teams are going to be looking for his playmaking abilities. 

Nicklas Backstrom

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    The video here is just to show Nicklas Backstrom's amazing hand-eye coordination. 

    Even though Backstrom lines up centering Alex Ovechkin every night, it doesn't mean that he isn't an effective playmaker. 

    He has great vision, has already posted three seasons above 50 assists and is on pace for 82 this season.

    Look for Backstrom to only improve his playmaking ability as he grows. He's only 23, after all. 

Denis Savard

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    With three seasons above 80 assists, Denis Savard was an effective passer in his time. 

    Overall, Savard finished his career with 865 assists in just 1,196 games with Chicago, Tampa Bay and Montreal. 

Brian Leetch

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    Yet another defenseman with playmaking abilities, Brian Leetch had three seasons with over 70 assists. 

    Overall, he had 781 assists in his career, putting him right up there with several other defensemen on this list.

Marc Savard

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    Before his concussion, Marc Savard knew how to pass the puck. The video above is just one instance of his creativity in this area. He posted four straight 60-or-better-assist seasons and had a high of 74 with the Boston Bruins.

    Even though Savard was limited to just 499 assists in his career, his playmaking ability should still be mentioned here.

Joe Thornton

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    As a pure passer, Joe Thornton may be the best player in the league. 

    Obviously, passing isn't the only thing that makes up a good playmaker, but Thornton still has to be considered on this list despite some of his other weaknesses. 

    Overall, Jumbo Joe has 704 assists and had a 96-assist season between the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks in 2005-06.

Henrik Sedin

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    Henrik Sedin is known as the playmaking twin between him and his brother Daniel.

    He possesses a "twin sense" for his brother on the ice, and thus is one of the best playmakers in the league today. The Sedin tandem is, has been and will continue to be dominant in Vancouver for years to come.

    Overall, Henrik has 509 assists and posted an 83-assist outing just two seasons ago. 

Doug Gilmour

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    Nicknamed "Killer," seemingly because of his short size, Gilmour deserves every bit of praise he receives.

    Gilmour recorded 964 career assists and posted his best season, 95 assists, in 1992-93.

    An all-around great hockey player and playmaker, Doug Gilmour makes a great addition to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Steve Yzerman

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    What else can you really say about Stevie Y?

    He has accomplished almost everything in this league and is making a push for yet another Stanley Cup, this time as a GM with Tampa.

    When he was still skating around the ice, however, Yzerman tallied 1,063 assists. Even though his goal-scoring ability should also be considered, Yzerman still had excellent vision on the ice.

Mark Messier

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    Mark Messier is third all time in NHL assists with 1,193 throughout his illustrious career. 

    He is often regarded as one of the best leaders to ever play the game.

    With Edmonton in 1989-90, Messier recorded 84 assists in 79 games. Several other outstanding seasons and dominating playoff performances places Messier into this elite group.

Adam Oates

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    Oates had more assists in the 1990s than any other player except Wayne Gretzky. 

    He posted a career-high 97 assists in 1992-93 and recorded 1,079 assists in his career. 

    Oates will forever be one of the best playmakers in NHL history. 

Ron Francis

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    Ron Francis is second all time in assists with 1,249.

    A three-time Lady Byng winner and one-time Selke winner, Francis was an elite playmaker for Hartford, Pittsburgh and Carolina.

Pavel Datsyuk

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    Strolling around YouTube, there are plenty of these Datsyuk highlight videos to go around.

    With unmatched hands and a knack for knowing where all of his teammates are at any moment, Datsyuk has the ability to take over games by himself. 

Sidney Crosby

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    In his best season so far, Crosby recorded 84 assists in just 79 games.

    He was on pace for an even better season last year before he got injured.

    His playmaking abilities are downright scary, drawing comparisons to the legendary Wayne Gretzky himself.

Peter Forsberg

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    With 636 assists in just 708 games, Peter Forsberg was an elite playmaker, regardless of his seemingly constant injury battles.

Mario Lemieux

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    Although Mario Lemieux was known for his unprecedented ability with the puck and for his ability to score goals in flurries, he also accumulated an insane amount of assists, 1,033, in just 915 games. This also includes a season with 114 total assists.

    His overall skill was only rivaled by...

Wayne Gretzky

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    Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr said of Gretzky,

    "He passes better than anybody I've ever seen. And he thinks so far ahead." 

    That's an understatement. 

    Gretzky is the undisputed king of on-ice vision, which is why similar type players such as Sidney Crosby are labeled things like "The Next One."

    He holds an NHL record for 1,963 assists in his career and posted one season with 163 assists. 

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