The National Hockey League isn’t always one of the most popular sports in the world, but that all changes when the Stanley Cup odds are released. The NHL has a terrific postseason format, and it creates unbelievable excitement and drama each year.
Most people think of Canadian or European players when they think of the best in league history, but there have been some great American born hockey players as well. This sport is obviously more popular in other countries, but some terrific talent has been grown in the United States.
Putting together a list of the best American born hockey players can be a challenge, but there are plenty of big names that stand out. The best players always seem to show up when their team needs them the most, and some American players have put together legendary careers in the playoffs.
Here is a list of the five best American born hockey players in NHL history.
5. Jonathan Quick
The four top choices on this list all play either forward or defenseman, so it was only right to reserve at least one spot for a goaltender. This was actually a tougher choice than you might expect as both Ryan Miller and John Vanbiesbrouck deserve some consideration.
In the end though, Jonathan Quick is the best American-born goaltender and his two Stanley Cup titles are a big reason why. Quick has been a mainstay with the Los Angeles Kings and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
The Kings were a dominant force in the league in the 2010s and it was Quick that usually set the tone.
4. Auston Matthews
It was nearly impossible to figure out where to place Auston Matthews on this list, because his career is really just getting started. Matthews scored four goals in his first game in the NHL, and he hasn’t stopped scoring since his debut.
The Toronto Maple Leafs tabbed Matthews with the first overall draft pick, and he has lived up to the hype throughout his career. Matthews is on pace to shatter some scoring records for American-born players, but he will have to stay healthy to do so.
In ten years, it’s hard to imagine Matthews not challenging to be at the top of this list, but there is plenty of work to be done.
3. Mike Modano
Mike Modano is the best player in the history of the Stars franchise, and he got his start with the Minnesota North Stars, but continued his dominance in Dallas. Modano should have won the Calder Trophy as a rookie, but did go on to rack up the awards and individual accolades.
Not only did Modano get it done in the regular season each year, but he also racked up 146 postseason points. Until the next player on the list came along, Modano was considered the best American-born forward of all-time.
2. Patrick Kane
When Patrick Kane was in his prime with the Chicago Blackhawks, you could easily make the case that he was the most talented player in the NHL. Kane has tremendous stick handling ability, and he was a dominant offensive threat.
The Chicago Blackhawks won three Stanley Cup titles in a span of six years, and Kane was a huge part of that success. Kane hasn’t even called it a career year, and he already holds several records in Chicago.
Patrick Kane could easily end up topping this list when his career is over, especially if he has four or five more years in him.
1. Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios was the easy answer here, and he actually set the stage for Patrick Kane to do what he is doing with the Chicago Blackhawks. Chelios had a long and successful run with the Blackhawks and he is eighth all-time in total games played.
Many regard Chelios as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, and he has the stats to back that up. Chelios was also a part of three Stanley Cup title teams, and he was an 11-time All Star during his career.
When Chelios was in his prime, all of the young American hockey players were looking up to the star defenseman.