This past week, The Detroit Red Wings honored recent Hall of Fame inductees Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan with pregame ceremonies. As I reminisced on the memories I had of these two Hall of Fame players, I began to ponder where they ranked among the best players who have played for the Wings.
When I first began to list all of the great players who have played in Detroit, I had a hard time deciding how to rank legendary players such as Ted Lindsey and Sid Abel. It would be unjust for me to rank players that I have never seen play before. I also wanted to take a look at each player’s career as a whole, not necessarily what they contributed to the Red Wings.
So, with that being said, here’s my list of the best 15 players to have worn a Red Wings sweater in the past 20 years.
15. Pat Verbeek
Verbeek only played 2 seasons in Detroit, but scored his 500th goal and recorded his 1,000th point wearing a Red Wings jersey. He was a rare breed; a tough guy who displayed exceptional offensive talent. Verbeek is the only player in NHL history to score 500 goals and spend 2,500 minutes in the penalty box.
14. Sergei Fedorov
The most successful member of “The Russian Five”, Fedorov may have been the best skater of the 90’s. In his 4th NHL season, Fedorov tallied 120 points and was named NHL MVP. The Russian forward scored 483 goals and had 696 assists in his career.
13. Curtis Joseph
Even though his time spent playing with the Wings fell well short of expectations, “Cujo” is one of the greatest to ever play between the pipes. Joseph’s 454 career wins currently ranks 4th all-time.
12. Larry Murphy
Ranked 5th all-time in scoring among defensemen, Murphy played a big role in leading four teams to become Stanley Cup Champions.
11. Dino Ciccarelli
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, Ciccarelli is one of 18 players to record 600 NHL goals. He also had six career playoff hat tricks, proving he was one of the greatest scorers ever, no matter the stage.
10. Chris Osgood
The legacy of Chris Osgood is one that cannot be solely defined by statistics. Osgood ranks 10th all-time with 401 wins, but his excellence in the postseason is what truly makes him a legend. “Ozzie” led the Wings to two Stanley Cup championships as the starting goalie and posted 16 shutouts in his postseason career.
9. Chris Chelios
A 3-time winner of the Norris Trophy, Chelios recorded 948 points in his career, which is 10th all-time among defensemen. Known for his physical play, he was one of the best defensemen of his time.
8. Brendan Shanahan
Shanahan scored more than 650 goals in his career and assisted on nearly 700 more. He helped lead the Red Wings to claim 3 Stanley Cups while sporting one of the best playoff beards ever.
7. Mike Modano
One of the best leaders to ever play the game, Modano racked up more than 1,300 points in 21 NHL seasons.
6. Luc Robitaille
12th all-time with 668 career goals, Robitaille came to Detroit to win a Stanley Cup, and did so in 2002. He set the record for most goals by a left-winger.
5. Paul Coffey
Known for his exceptional speed, Coffee ranks 2nd all-time in goals, assists, and points by a defenseman.
4. Dominik Hasek
Named as MVP in consecutive seasons, his unique style in net made him one of the greatest goaltenders ever. Hasek posted 81 shutouts in his career, 6th most all-time.
3. Nicklas Lidstrom
The best defensive defensman of all-time, Lidstom’s stick skills were second to none. Not only could he shut down opposing players at will, but his 1,142 career points ranks 6th among defensemen.
2. Brett Hull
Never considered as a great skater, only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe have scored more career goals than Hull’s 741.
1. Steve Yzerman
No surprise here. “The Captain” was the face of the Red Wings franchise throughout his career. Yzerman scored 692 goals and had 1,063 assists, totaling 1,755 career points. Aside from his ability to score and set up goals, the Wings’ captain displayed grit and leadership like no other player in the game.