The Best Players Ever - The Wildcard Vote

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the best hockey players to ever play the game?

In what turned out to be the first installment of a series of posts to determine the ten best players to ever play the game, I began by using major trophy victories to establish some contenders. In the comments, a couple of good points were raised, namely that goalies and defensemen were being undervalued because they have fewer trophies available, and that the Vezina trophies awarded between 1946-47 and 1980-81 were being overvalued.

After taking those things into consideration, here's the new point system: 3 points for a Hart Trophy (first awarded in 1923-24), 2 points for a Vezina Trophy awarded from 1926-27 to 1945-46 or from 1981-82 to 2012-13, 1 point for a Vezina trophy awarded from 1946-47 to 1980-81 (when it was awarded to the starting goaltender(s) on the team with the best goals against average), 2 points for a Norris Trophy (first awarded in 1953-54), 1 point for an Art Ross Trophy or equivalent (NHL points leader starting in 1917-18), and 1 point for a Rocket Richard Trophy or equivalent (NHL goals leader starting in 1917-18). It still isn't perfect (defensemen before 1953-54, goaltenders before 1926-27, and all players before 1923-24 are going to be undervalued, not to mention anyone who played the heart of their career outside the NHL), but I think it's better.

Using this system, twenty-two players earned at least eight points:

Best_players_ever

Of course, this list is far from perfect. Some of the best players are missing, and there's plenty to quibble over when it comes to the order. As such, I've decided that we'll add ten more to this list before moving into a tournament-style elimination process. I've picked five wildcard spots myself, all going to players systematically undervalued by the trophy criteria: Cyclone Taylor, Helmuts Balderis, Joe Malone, Newsy Lalonde, and Sergei Makarov.

The other five spots will be determined by today's vote (the voting will stay open until Wednesday). Most of the players eligible in the vote were nominated in the comments of the last post, and I've added a few that I thought were deserving of consideration. There are twenty-five contenders here, and the five who receive the most votes will move on to the main draw. If I was deciding alone, I'd go with Crosby, Fetisov, Messier, Potvin, and Roy. I'll offer one sentence on each guy below to remind you of his accomplishments:

Babe Siebert (D) - Won the Hart before the Norris existed in 1936-37 and was named a First-Team All-Star for three consecutive seasons.

Bill Durnan (G) - Starting goalie for the Montreal Canadiens from 1943-44 to 1949-50 won the Vezina six times in those seven seasons.

Bryan Trottier (F) - Hart winner in 1978-79 and Conn Smythe winner in 1979-80 won the Stanley Cup six times with the Islanders and Penguins.

Charlie Conacher (F) - The best forward in Leafs' history led the league in points five times and in goals twice, missing an automatic qualification by just one point.

Chris Chelios (D) - Three-time Norris winner played more NHL games and seasons than any defenseman in history, and was named to a year-end All-Star team seven times (five first, two second), with the first one coming in 1988-89 and the last one in 2001-02.

Chris Pronger (D) - The only defenseman since Bobby Orr to win the Hart Trophy won the Norris just once (same year) because he happened to play in the same era as Nicklas Lidstrom.

Denis Potvin (D) - The three-time Norris winner has a 0.99 career points per game rate, third all-time among defensemen; he was named to seven year-end All-Star teams (five first, two second) and won the Stanley Cup four times with the Islanders.

Glenn Hall (G) - Won the Vezina three times, but was named a First-Team All-Star seven times (and Second-Team All-Star four times); started 502 consecutive games.

Herb Gardiner (D) - Played most of his career outside the NHL but won the Hart in 1926-27 at the age of 35.

Joe Sakic (F) - Won the Hart in 2000-01 and currently sits ninth on the all-time scoring list with 1,641 career points.

Ken Dryden (G) - Won the Vezina five times and won the Calder as the league's top rookie one year after winning the Conn Smythe as he led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup.

King Clancy (D) - Was named a First or Second-Team All-Star four times during the 1920's and 1930's, and won two Stanley Cups with the original Senators before winning a third with the Leafs.

Larry Robinson (D) - Two-time Norris winner was a feared, physical defenseman who also finds himself ninth on the all-time scoring list among defensemen with 958 career points.

Marcel Dionne (F) - Never won the Hart Trophy, but won the Ted Lindsay Award (NHLPA equivalent) twice; he sits fifth in NHL history with 1,771 points and sixth in NHL history with 1.31 points per game.

Mark Messier (F) - Two-time Hart winner and six-time Stanley Cup winner is second all-time with 1,756 career games played and second all-time with 1,887 career points.

Mike Bossy (F) - Was named a First or Second-Team All-Star team eight times (5+3), and has the best goals per game rate in NHL history (0.76).

Patrick Roy (G) - Three-time Vezina winner is the only player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe trophy three different times.

Paul Coffey (D) - Second all-time behind Bobby Orr with 1.09 points per game, and second all-time behind Ray Bourque with 1,531 points.

Peter Forsberg (F) - 2002-03 Hart winner is eighth all-time in points per game (1.25) despite playing in one of the league's most defensive eras.

Sidney Crosby (F) - The best player in the game today is currently fourth all-time in points per game (1.42), but is first among active players by a country mile.

Steve Yzerman (F) - Centerman was only named to an end of season All-Star team once, but is sixth all-time in points with 1,755.

Ted Lindsay (F) - Four-time Cup winner was named a First-Team All-Star eight times and Second-Team All-Star once.

Terry Sawchuk (G) - Was named a First or Second-Team All-Star seven times (3+4) and is second all-time behind Martin Broduer in shutouts with 102.

Vladislav Tretiak (G) - Was named to the IIHF Centennial All-Star team in 2008, had four of the ten best GAA seasons of the 1980s in the Soviet Union, and is generally regarded as the best Soviet goaltender of all-time.

Vyacheslav Fetisov (D) - Didn't arrive in the NHL until he was 31, but played nine seasons scoring 228 points in 546 regular season games while winning the Stanley Cup twice; in Russia, he led Soviet defensemen in scoring five times; internationally, he was named to the World Championship All-Star team nine times and was named the tournament's best defenseman five times.

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