The Best Canadian NHL Players of All Time

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Canada is the home of hockey, and one of the greatest producers of NHL players, with over 50% of players coming from the country. Not only that, but US and European players often switch to Canada during their youth, to improve their chances of making it in the big leagues. So here it is, our take on the best Canadian hockey players.


#10. Brendan Shanahan


We kick off our list of the best canadian hockey players with Brendan Shanahan.

Shanahan is a member of the elite Triple Gold Club, winning the World Championship in 1994, an Olympic gold in 2002 and 3 Stanley Cups during his time at the Detroit Red Wings.

He retired as the only player in NHL history with over 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes, and has 17 Gordie Howe hat tricks to his name, making him the record holder for this unofficial prize.

A Gordie Howe hat trick consists of a goal, assist and a fight in the same game, as Shanahan shared Howe’s penchant for a fight.

#9. Sidney Crosby


At 23 years of age Crosby scored the dramatic overtime goal that clinched the gold for Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics, and in his first season he was the 6th highest scorer in the NHL, bagging 102 points in total.

Known for his versatility, Crosby has excelled at every stage, from juniors to internationals, and is known for his versatility.

He recently became the 10th fastest player to reach the elusive 900 point mark, and by Canadian NHL players stats, is a giant of the game.

#8. Paul Coffey


Coffey is regarded as one of the best Canadian defencemen to play in the NHL, as well as something of a journeyman, playing for 9 different teams in his 21-year career.

A prolific defenceman, he holds a number of notable records, such as the most goals and assists by a defenceman in a single playoff, most goals in 1 season by a defenceman (48) and the longest point streak by a defenceman, which was 28 games.

He is second only to Ray Bourque in terms of overall goals, assists and points scored by a defenceman.


#7. Ray Bouroque


Aside from being the most prolific point scoring defenceman in the game, Bouroque was known for his consistency across his entire 22 season career, played exclusively at the Boston Bruins.

As a testament to his consistent play, he was named in the All-Star game in every single year of his career, and worthy of a place on any list of the best Canadian hockey players.

He holds the NHL record for most career goals (by a defenceman), a mighty 410; as well as the most career assists, 1169; and most points, 1579.

#6. Mike Bossy


Despite having his career cut short by back injuries, during his 10 seasons for the New York Islanders he racked up some truly impressive accomplishments, and marked himself as an all time NHL great.

He remains the only NHL player in history to score back-to-back winning goals in the Stanley Cup, as well as the only player to score all 4 winning goals in a single series. Some say he would have some of the best Canadian NHL players stats should he have been spared injury.

He still holds the all time record for the best goal per game ratio (0.762) and netted a grand total of 573 goals in 752 matches.

While often overlooked, Mike Bossy deserves his spot as one of the best Canadian hockey players.

#5. Joe Sakic


Famed as one of the best team leaders in the game, he retired as one of the most productive forward players ever with some of the best Canadian NHL players stats, having scored 50 goals in 2 separate seasons, and amassed at least 100 points over 6 seasons.

His wrist shot was widely regarded as the best in the NHL, and made him a widely regarded, and feared player, especially by opposition goalies.

He won the World Championship in 1994, the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001, and secured an Olympic Gold in 2002, where he noted up a decisive four points.

#4. Scott Niedermayer


Niedermayer retired as one of the greatest defencemen in Canadian history, having collected pretty much every trophy a NHL player could possibly win.

He won so many titles that it’s easier for us to just list them!

  • World Junior Championship (1991)
  • Memorial Cup (1992)
  • Stanley Cup (1995, 2000, 2003, 2007)
  • World Championship (2004)
  • World Cup (2004)
  • Olympic Gold (2002 and 2010)

Not a bad haul for a 19-year career, spent at New Jersey Devils and the Anaheim Ducks, and finished his career as one of the most decorated players in Canadian history.

#3. Steve Yzerman, “The Captain”


Yzerman retired as the longest-serving captain of any team in North American major league sports history, having captained the Detroit Red Wings for a staggering 21 seasons.

He played over 1,300 games as the team’s captain, leading them to 5 first place season finishes, and 3 Stanley Cup titles in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

His number, 19, was retired as a mark of respect to Yzerman, and last year he awarded with the NHL General Manager of the Year Award.

#2. Mario Lemieux, “The Magnificent One”


Over 17 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux established himself as one of the best Canadian hockey players. Known for his ability to beat defences fakes and dekes, he was a quick skater and a highly gifted playmaker.

He holds the second highest goals per game ration (0.754) in the history of the NHL, just short of Mike Bossy (0.762), amassing 690 goals and 1,033 assists in his epic career.

Sadly his career was plagued by ill-health, meaning he could have gone on to even more impressive accomplishments.

#1. Wayne Gretzky, “The Great One”


Despite his modest size and stature, Gretzky was renowned for his ability to dodge body checks, and a superb reading of the game, which made him far more dangerous than he ever appeared.

Widely praised for his accomplishments as a player, he is also regarded as a fine manager, leading Canada to Gold in the 2002 and 2010 Olympic games, as well as in 2004 where they won the World Cup.

With the best Canadian NHL players stats, a fantastic career as both player and manager, Gretzky is the only choice for the best of the best Canadian hockey players.

Relive the best NHL games of all time if you’re longing for NHL season! 

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