NHL99 – a project that ranks the best players in modern NHL history

Who’s the perfect NHL participant of all time?

Straightforward, proper? Wayne Gretzky.

Who else however the participant who, over the course of a 20-year NHL profession, tallied essentially the most objectives, assists and factors in league historical past? When Gretzky retired, he held 61 NHL data and most nonetheless stand at this time.

Gretzky’s place on the prime of the charts does not appear debatable, so we’re not going to debate it. As an alternative, it is the opposite 99 locations that comply with No. 99 that we have to work out.

Welcome to NHL99, a undertaking that goals to place a brand new spin on a well-known concept: Who’re the 100 best gamers in post-1967 growth NHL historical past? Let’s face it, there have been a number of earlier makes an attempt to call the best gamers of all time, in order that’s our start line and first setting.

We did not need to undergo the identical previous path once more. As an alternative, we needed to strive one thing new, and the post-1967 NHL appeared like a very good start line. Why? As a result of that is when the sport and the enterprise of hockey basically modified. As an alternative of six groups, there have been all of the sudden 12. As an alternative of a league dominated nearly solely by Canadians, got here a dribbling and finally a flood of gamers from all corners of the world.

Right this moment the countdown begins. We name it NHL99 as a result of there are 99 debating spots on our High 100 listing and the quantity 99 resonates with hockey followers all over the place.

So spoiler alert, Wayne Gretzky is no 1 on our listing. It may very well be argued that Gretzky really belongs within the Corridor of Fame in two classes: as a participant and as a builder. Arguably no particular person did extra to develop the NHL sport, on and off the ice, than Gretzky.

Nevertheless it turns into fascinating and controversial after Gretzky. 9 writers from the athletic acquired votes on this undertaking: Eric Duhatschek, Dom Luszczyszyn, Shayna Goldman, Ian Mendes, Scott Wheeler, Sean Gentille, Michael Russo, Sean McIndoe, and James Mirtle. Every of the voters submitted a listing of 100 gamers within the spring of 2022, earlier than the beginning of the playoffs, and factors had been awarded primarily based on place: 100 factors for no 1 on the listing, one level for quantity 100, and so forth. . Gretzky scored an ideal 900 factors. On the finish of the undertaking, we are going to reveal everybody’s report playing cards and level totals. If this sounds acquainted to you, it is as a result of the athletic has carried out comparable initiatives with the nba, nfl Y MLB.

With our High 100 listing prepared, the countdown begins now. However that is greater than a countdown. From now till February, we’ll be that includes a participant a day, six days per week, together with an in-depth function, hopefully filled with tales, angles, and anecdotes about these gamers that you have by no means learn earlier than. Greater than 40 writers from throughout the athletic newsroom contributed to this undertaking.

Now, some necessary caveats in regards to the course of, beginning with the popularity that any listing discussing the best of all time will likely be subjective and will suggest some recency bias. And once more, our focus is strictly on the NHL from 1967 to now.

That ought to be made very clear since you will not discover Gordie Howe on our listing. Is it sacrilege to have a listing of the best gamers of all time with out Mr. Hockey? Possibly, however Howe solely performed 369 NHL video games from 1967-68 onward and spent six seasons within the WHA. So he is out. You will not discover Bobby Hull, Maurice Richard or Howie Morenz both.

Our thorniest and most troublesome picks concerned gamers on each side of the spectrum. Some flew beneath the radar as a result of their greatest influence got here earlier than 1967. Some, who will finally qualify, did not make the listing as a result of they’re nonetheless within the early phases of their careers.

Our threshold was 400 video games for skaters (300 for goaltenders) accomplished by the top of the 2021-22 common season, which is the video games performed standards to qualify for an NHL pension. So Auston Matthews (407 profession video games for him) did it, simply barely. Cale Makar did not; he has solely performed 173 NHL common season video games. It is a arduous line to attract, however it’s a must to draw the road someplace.

The general purpose was easy: inform 100 compelling tales about 100 impactful NHL gamers, and in the end, maybe, spark a dialog about who may need been on the roster and was ignored.

A phrase of warning, although: if you wish to add your favourite participant or contest one among our picks, you will additionally have to take away somebody from the listing.

Which you will discover, because the listing goes on, could also be simpler stated than finished.


(Picture: Bruce Bennett, Gregory Shamus, Mike Powell, Justin Okay. Aller/Getty Photos)

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