NOTE: As of writing this, I noticed on NHL.com that there is similar post from yesterday (July 3, 2016) listing the top-10 American born players of all-time. I in no way, am piggy backing off that article, and as stated below, did my own research to come to my conclusions. To see the post on NHL.com, click here.
To celebrate this Independence Day, I have decided to post about my top ten American born NHLers of All-Time. Now I am sure some of you will have a lot to say about who I choose, but let me assure you if there was one thing I learned in college, it was the value of a decision matrix. For my matrix I chose four categories with overall points being the most weighted. After points, the next highest weight was given to points per game, followed by plus/minus and lastly game-winning goals.
Some of you may have an issue with those criteria right from the start. It’s obviously a very offensively biased matrix, but the top players are hard to argue against. The points per game and plus/minus were based on players that were in the other categories along with a minimum of 500 games played. Of the ten players on the list, one is currently active in the NHL and will probably be them most argued pick of the bunch. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Number 10: Brian Leetch – One of three defensemen to make the list, Leetch comes in after being 7th all-time in goals. Where his downfall came is points per game and plus/minus where he was tenth in points per game and for as great of a defensemen as he was, didn’t crack the top ten in plus/minus. Still to crack the top ten list, even at ten and being a defensemen speaks volumes to the type of player he was.
Number 9: Patrick Kane – What? All-time best list you say? Better than Leetch even? C’mon, gimme a break. I know, you all think I am crazy. Why did Kane make this list and beat out a guy like Doug Weight? The only list he actually placed on the decision matrix was points per game. Patrick Kane is the third highest American in terms of points per game average. This is based on players with over 500 games mind you. If Kane continues this pace, in ten years, he will continue to climb this list. Like him or hate him, the guy has been pretty consistent and will go down as one of the best American born players. He’s already made my list about half-way through his career.
Number 8: Chris Chelios – An Ironman who always had a nice tan going, takes his spot at number 8. In some people’s eyes he is probably higher, but again I was pretty offensively biased. The guy who used to ride bikes in the sauna was probably one of the most conditioned atheltetes to ever play the game. His American roots run deep and it showed in his gameplay as he was loved by the fans he played for and hated by the ones he played against.
Number 7: Phil Housley – Arguably the best American born defensemen to play the game, he round out the defensemen on the list. A class act on and off the ice, Housley was the epitome of Team USA for several years. That Jofa Bucket kept him classy.
Number 6: Keith Tkachuk – A staple in STL for several years after wearing that awful jersey in Phoenix, Tkachuk makes the list based on his goal scoring capability. An elite power forward in his time, he was known for being gritty, finishing hit checks and appearing in more areas of the scoresheet than just one. A true blue-collar player.
Number 5: Pat Lafontaine – Despite injury woes and one of the largest visors of all-time, Patty L could score some goals and was a very dynamic and electric player. Lafontaine only had 865 games under his belt which is the reason why he leads American born players in points per game as he amassed over 1,000 total points in a relatively short time in comparison to the rest of this list.
Number 4: Jeremy Roenick – Love him or hate him, he was a great hockey player. Sure he ran his mouth, spit his chicklets into his hand on camera during a game and seems like he could partake in a few ‘sodas’ here and there, but credit is owed where credit is due. Out of all the players on this list, he was one of two that finished in the top ten in every category in the matrix. He is arguably the most well rounded American player to lace up the skates.
Number 3: Joe Mullen – 5 foot 9 Mullen makes it so high on this list solely on his plus minus stats. Out of all American born players, regardless of total games played he ranked 10th overall all-time in plus/minus. Combine that with scoring the 6th most points, 4th most points per game and 4th in game winning goals and you have a player many would never put this high on the list.
Number 2: Brett Hull – Leader in points, and game winning goals and second in points per game behind Patty L places him at the #2 spot. THE best pure goal scoring American, Hull was a beast to reckon with even in college. His one-timer was something kids hoped they could somehow perfect as he would gracefully adjust his body and drop to one knee, blowing the shot past or through the goaltender. Hull actually scored two points higher on the matrix, but falls to #2 simply because……
Number 1: Mike Modano – He gets the nod over Hull because he scored in every category. Similar to J.R. I believe he is the most well-rounded American born player in the history of the game. His sick flow for the majority of his career and his long tenure in the Stars organization made him a class act. He got to live out a childhood dream and put a great end to a historic career by wearing the winged wheel in his final season in the league. Being a Michigander also, Modano was not only the epicenter of what hockey meant in Michigan, but what hockey meant to Americans. It will take a very special individual to dethrone ‘Captain America.’