Okay, before I get started on this list I want to stress the fact that I am talking about the most exciting players of all time, not necessarily the best players of all time. That being said the majority of these players would earn a deserving spot on both lists, just not necessarily in the same order.
The guys on this list have several traits in common – They could/can all pull fans out of their seats with electrifying plays. They all had/have a penchant for the dramatic and elevated their level of play when the game was on the line. They all were/are magicians with the puck, and routinely left/leave their opponents looking like little more than pylons.
Yes, fans have been blessed to see many great NHLers that could fit this description, but in my opinion the men on this list are just a cut above. Read on to see who made the cut:
10 – Jaromir Jagr – Though this guy’s character and intensity may have been questioned throughout his NHL career, few can dispute Jaromir Jagr’s incredible natural talent, particularly his wizardry as one of the best stickhandlers the game has ever seen. Jagr had size, deceptive speed, and perhaps the fastest set of hands in NHL history, and some of the moves he pulled off even had the Magnificent One, Mario Lemieux shaking his head in disbelief. Yes, he mailed it in on many nights, but when he came to play fans spent a lot of the night on their feet.
Wayne Gretzky Jerseys
9 – Wayne Gretzky – Many hockey historians might have the consensus choice as the greatest hockey player of all time higher on the list of the most exciting players, but for my money Gretzky’s greatest attributes were his intelligence, his on-ice vision, his consistency, and his incredible will to win – not necessarily traits that lent themselves to pure excitement. That being said, Gretzky surely pulled off his share of highlight reel plays during his amazing career, and definitely scored some dramatic, clutch goals. Gretzky filled rinks wherever to play, and with good reason. The Great One certainly must be considered one of the most exciting NHL hockey players ever.
Denis Savard Jersey
8 – Denis Savard – One of the biggest mysteries in NHL history is how the Montreal Canadiens could have passed over this French Canadian junior star to select Doug Wickenheiser with the #1 overall pick in the 1980 NHL entry draft. Instead, their original six brethren, the Chicago Blackhawks, snapped up this savvy superstar with the 3rd overall pick, and Savard quickly showed the Canadiens brass how wrong they were in overlooking him. Though small in stature, Savard had incredible speed, agility, and it is hard to think of anyone who was a better stickhandler than this guy. Savard consistently found his way onto the highlight reel, and was one of the game’s greatest entertainers in the 80s.
Maurice Richard Jersey
7 – Maurice “Rocket” Richard – Though he might not have had the incredible stick-handling ability of the majority of the other players on this list, no one can deny that the Rocket was as exciting driving the net to score a goal as Savard or Jagr were when deking through the entire opposing team. Opponents will tell you this guy had fire in his eyes, and only woe awaited any defender that got between him and the net. This NHL hockey legend had fans at the Montreal forum out of their seats on a nightly basis with his dramatic goal-scoring ability, and is considered by most as the greatest player ever to suit up for the legendary Montreal Canadiens.
6 – Mario Lemieux – In my opinion this big man is the most talented player to ever play the game of hockey. More skilled than Gretzky or Orr, Mario the Magnificent played the game like everyone else was moving in slow motion, and if not for the health problems that dogged him through the bulk of his career there is little doubt in my mind that many of Gretzky’s records would belong to Mario. When Lemieux was at the top of his game, he was virtually unstoppable and a highlight reel of his best plays would last for hours.
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5 – Guy Lafleur – Only Maurice Richard is more beloved by Montreal fans than the Flower, and the image of Lafleur flying down the wing, long blond hair streaming behind him, and unleashing a wicked slapshot is one of the most memorable in the sport. His incredible speed and his ability to score important goals made him enormously popular, and even in opposing rinks Lafleur made fans stand and cheer with his exhilarating dashes down the right side.
4 – Alexander Ovechkin – Though he is only in his 4th NHL season I don’t think anyone can dispute that the Great 8 has already carved his spot in history as one of the most exciting NHL hockey players of all time. Not only is he an incredible shooter and goal-scorer with an unbridled passion for the game, but he is also one of the game’s most devastating hitters. He plays the game full speed ahead and never takes a night off. If his body can survive his human pinball style of play for a decade or more look for Ovie to surge to the pinnacle of this list by the time the sun goes down on his NHL career.
3 – Bobby Orr – Perhaps no other player in NHL history revolutionized the game like this man, and when he had the puck on his stick opposing teams could only stand and watch, helpless to stop him as he used his incredible speed, creativity and puck-handling ability to beat them all as he rushed up the ice. Fans screamed themselves hoarse cheering this guy on, and not a game went by without him making several incredible plays. It boggles the mind how good this guy would have been had he been able to play on two good knees his entire career.
Bobby Hull Jersey
2 – Bobby Hull – Back to back Bobbys on the list of the top 10 most exciting NHL hockey players of all time. This monstrously strong winger was nicknamed the Golden Jet because of his incredible skating speed (28 MPH). He also possessed an absolute cannon of a shot, and his slapshot was one clocked at a mind-boggling 118 MPH. Every time Hull got the puck and started flying down the wing fans were pulled to their feet to see what this NHL legend would do.
Pavel Bure Jersey
1 – Pavel Bure – Oldtimers who watched Hull, Orr and Lafleur in their primes might argue with this choice, but in my opinion there has never been a more dynamic, electrifying player than the Russian Rocket. From the very first game he played in the NHL Bure left fans breathless with his unparalleled ability to stickhandle at full speed. He might not have been as fast as Bobby Hull at top speed, but I have seen no one before or since that could accelerate like Bure could and when he got a sniff of open ice he would blast off, and no one had a hope of catching him. Once in alone on the goalie Bure’s phenomenally quick hands allowed him to pull off high speed dekes that were the envy of the rest of the league. Ovechkin might one day take the title from him, but as of the time of this writing Bure is, in my opinion, the most exciting NHL player I’ve ever seen.