Greatest American-Born NHL Players
Canadians rule the NHL. Always have, always will. But every now and then, Americans manage to sneak a great one into their ranks — that outlier of a hockey player who defies expectations and becomes a legend.
Some of the players in this lineup are names hockey fans know by heart. Some of them are ones that may have been forgotten to time. And some of them we're just getting to know.
These are the greatest American-born hockey players of all time.
30. John Carlson
Born: Jan. 10, 1990 (Natick, Massachusetts)
Career: 11 seasons (2009-present)
Teams: Washington Capitals
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (2018), NHL All-Rookie Team (2011), two-time NHL All-Star (2019, 2010)
Bottom line: John Carlson has been a solid and sometimes spectacular defenseman for the Washington Capitals for all 11 of his NHL seasons.
Carlson helped lead the Caps to the Stanley Cup title in 2018 and is a two-time NHL All-Star.
He's also cashed in big. His career earrings will approach $100 million by the time he finishes his current contract.
29. Dylan Larkin
Born: July 30, 1996 (Waterford, Michigan)
Career: 5 seasons (2015-present)
Teams: Detroit Red Wings
Career highlights: Rookie of the Month (November 2015), NHL All-Star (2016), NHL Fastest Skater (2016)
Bottom line: Dylan Larkin set the NHL record for single-lap speed when he won the NHL Fastest Skater Competition in 2016 with a time of 13.172 seconds.
Larkin, who made his only All-Star Game as a rookie in 2016, was drafted No. 15 overall in the 2014 NHL draft.
He played one season of college hockey at the University of Michigan and was an All-American in 2015 before turning pro.
28. Mark Johnson
Born: Sept. 22, 1957 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Career: 11 seasons (1979-90)
Teams: Pittsburgh Penguins (1979-82), Minnesota North Stars (1982), Hartford Whalers (1982-85), St. Louis Blues (1985), New Jersey Devils (1985-90)
Career highlights: Olympic gold medal (1980)
Bottom line: Mark Johnson's NHL career wasn't totally remarkable, but it was in the context of his entire hockey career.
That's because Johnson was not only a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, but actually scored a goal for the U.S. in the "Miracle on Ice" win over the Soviet Union.
Johnson followed the gold medal with a respectable 11-year NHL career.
27. Jim Carey
Born: May 31, 1974 (Dorchester, Massachusetts)
Career: 5 seasons (1994-99)
Teams: Washington Capitals (1994-97), Boston Bruins (1997-98), St. Louis Blues (1998-99)
Career highlights: NHL All-Rookie team (1995), Vezina Trophy (1996)
Bottom line: Jim Carey's career is something that we still don't quite understand. He only played five seasons in the league but was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL for that stretch.
To wit, Carey has a 2.58 career goals-against average, and he set the NHL record single-season goals-against average with 2.13 in 1995.
He also set the NHL single-season record in 1996 with nine shutouts — the same year he won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender.
26. Jeremy Roenick
Born: Jan. 17, 1970 (Boston, Massachusetts)
Career: 20 seasons (1988-2004, 2005-09)
Teams: Chicago Blackhawks (1988-96), Phoenix Coyotes (1996-2001), Philadelphia Flyers (2001-04, 2006-07), Los Angeles Kings (2005-06), San Jose Sharks (2007-09)
Career highlights: Nine-time NHL All-Star (1991-94, 1999, 2000, 2002-04)
Bottom line: Jeremy Roenick is one of the best-known NHL players of the last 30 years in large part because of his skill on the ice and in large part because he couldn't keep his mouth shut.
For all of his bluster, Roenick's bad-boy image never produced a Stanley Cup for the five teams he played for in his 20-year career.
25. Zach Parise
Born: July 28, 1984 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Position: Left wing
Career: 15 seasons (2005-present)
Teams: New Jersey Devils (2005-12), Minnesota Wild (2012-present)
Career highlights: NHL Young Stars Game MVP (2007)
Bottom line: Zach Parise is a second-generation NHL star. His father, Jean-Paul Parise, played 16 seasons in the NHL and was a two-time All-Star.
Zach Parise had his best years with the New Jersey Devils and cashed in big as an unrestricted free agent in 2012, signing a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild.
24. Mark Howe
Born: May 28, 1955 (Detroit, Michigan)
Position: Left wing/defense
Career: 16 seasons (1979-95)
Teams: Hartford Whalers (1979-82), Philadelphia Flyers (1982-92), Detroit Red Wings (1992-95)
Career highlights: Five-time NHL All-Star (1981, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1994)
Bottom line: Mark Howe was the son of Gordie Howe, arguably the greatest hockey player of all time, and was a formidable NHL star in his own right.
Mark Howe was named to the NHL All-Star team five times in 16 seasons and still holds seven NHL records for defensemen, including most shorthanded goals.
23. Billy Burch
Born: Nov. 20, 1900 (Yonkers, New York)
Died: Nov. 30, 1950 (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Career: 11 seasons (1922-33)
Teams: Hamilton Tigers (1922-25), New York Americans (1925-32), Boston Bruins (1932-33), Chicago Blackhawks (1933)
Career highlights: Hart Trophy (1925), Lady Byng Trophy (1927)
Bottom line: Billy Burch was born in New York but grew up playing hockey in Toronto.
Burch was part of the first NHL players strike in 1925, the same year he won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP.
The strike led to the dissolution of Burch's team, the Hamilton Tigers, and he spent his last eight seasons playing for teams in New York, Boston and Chicago.
22. Jack Eichel
Born: Oct. 28, 1966 (North Chelmsford, Massachusetts)
Career: 5 seasons (2015-present)
Teams: Buffalo Sabres
Career highlights: NHL All-Rookie team (2016), three-time NHL All-Star (2018-20)
Bottom line: Jack Eichel went No. 2 overall in the 2015 NHL draft behind Connor McDavid, which already looks like one of the best 1-2 pick combos in NHL history.
How much do the Sabres value Eichel? They gave him an eight-year, $80 million contract before the 2017-18 season, and he's responded with three consecutive All-Star selections.
21. John Vanbiesbrouck
Born: Sept. 4, 1963 (Detroit, Michigan)
Career: 21 seasons (1981-2002)
Teams: New York Rangers (1981-93), Florida Panthers (1993-98), Philadelphia Flyers (1998-2000), New York Islanders (2000-01), New Jersey Devils (2001-02)
Career highlights: Three-time NHL All-Star (1994, 1996, 1997), Vezina Trophy (1986)
Bottom line: John Vanbiesbrouck still holds the New York Rangers career records for most career assists by a goaltender and is second among American-born NHL goaltenders with 374 career wins.
Vanbiesbrouck's legacy was tarnished irrevocably when he used a racial slur against one of his African-American players when he was the coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
20. Tony Amonte
Born: Aug. 2, 1970 (Hingham, Massachusetts)
Position: Right wing
Career: 15 seasons (1991-2004, 2005-07)
Teams: New York Rangers (1991-94), Chicago Blackhawks (1994-2002), Phoenix Coyotes (2002-03), Philadelphia Flyers (2003-04), Calgary Flames (2005-07)
Career highlights: NHL All-Rookie team (1992), five-time NHL All-Star (1997-2001)
Bottom line: Tony Almonte made the NHL All-Rookie team with the New York Rangers and came in third in the voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1992. But he had his best seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Almonte was named to five consecutive NHL All-Star rosters from 1997 to 2001 and retired in 2007 after 15 seasons.
19. Phil Housley
Born: March 9, 1964 (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
Career: 21 seasons(1982-2003)
Teams: Buffalo Sabres (1982-90), Winnipeg Jets (1990-93), St. Louis Blues (1993-94), Calgary Flames (1994-96, 1998-2001), New Jersey Devils (1996), Washington Capitals (1996-98), Chicago Blackhawks (2001-03), Toronto Maple Leafs (2003)
Career highlights: NHL All-Rookie team (1992), seven-time NHL All-Star (1984, 1989-93, 2000), Norris Trophy runner-up (1992)
Bottom line: Phil Housley had one of the more understated, underappreciated careers of any American NHL player. He retired as the leading point scorer among U.S.-born players in 2003.
But another look at his stats reveals why his career may have been so underappreciated. He also retired with the NHL record for most career games without winning a Stanley Cup.
18. Mike Richter
Born: Sept. 22, 1966 (Abington, Pennsylvania)
Career: 14 seasons (1988-2002)
Teams: New York Rangers
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (1994), three-time NHL All-Star (1992, 1994, 2000), NHL All-Star Game MVP (1994)
Bottom line: The only Pennsylvania native to make this list, Mike Richter was in goal for one of the greatest Stanley Cup championships of all time with the New York Rangers in 1994.
Richter was a joy to watch in the net. Undersized but acrobatic and stunningly quick, he battled injuries throughout his career and played all 14 seasons with the Rangers.
17. Keith Tkachuk
Born: March 28, 1972 (Melrose, Massachusetts)
Position: Left wing
Career: 18 seasons (1991-2004, 2005-10)
Teams: Winnipeg Jets (1991-96), Phoenix Coyotes (1996-2001), St. Louis Blues (2001-07), Atlanta Thrashers (2007), St. Louis Blues (2007-10)
Career highlights: Five-time NHL All-Star (1997-99, 2004, 2009)
Bottom line: Keith Tkachuk was the first American-born NHL player to score 50 goals in a season and the first to score 50 goals and rack up 200 penalty minutes in the same season.
Tkachuk's name carried as much respect as anyone in the NHL during his 18 seasons because of the two aforementioned reasons — his ability to score and his willingness to drop the gloves and fight at a moment's notice.
16. Tom Barrasso
Born: March 31, 1965 (Boston, Massachusetts)
Career: 20 seasons (1983-2003)
Teams: Buffalo Sabres (1983-89), Pittsburgh Penguins (1989-2000), Ottawa Senators (2000), Carolina Hurricanes (2001-02), Toronto Maple Leafs (2002), St. Louis Blues (2002-03)
Career highlights: Two-time Stanley Cup champion (1991, 1992), Calder Memorial Trophy (1984), Vezina Trophy (1984), NHL All-Star (1985)
Bottom line: If there's any U.S.-born player that we could make a Hall of Fame case for who's not in yet, it's probably Tom Barrasso.
He was in the net for back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with the great Pittsburgh Penguins teams of the early 1990s and swept both the Calder Memorial Trophy and Vezina Trophy in his rookie year in 1984.
15. Bill Guerin
Born: Nov. 9, 1970 (Worcester, Massachusetts)
Position: Right wing
Career: 19 seasons (1991-2010)
Teams: New Jersey Devils (1991-98), Edmonton Oilers (1998-2001), Boston Bruins (2001-02), Dallas Stars (2002-06), St. Louis Blues (2006-07), San Jose Sharks (2007), New York Islanders (2007-09), Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-10)
Career highlights: Two-time Stanley Cup champion (1995, 2009), four-time NHL All-Star (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007), NHL All-Star Game MVP (2001)
Bottom line: Bill Guerin was a trailblazer as the first NHL player of Hispanic descent.
He played 19 seasons in the NHL and won a pair of Stanley Cup titles with the New Jersey Devils in 1995 and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.
Guerin was a four-time All-Star and was the NHL All-Star Game MVP in 2001.
14. Tim Thomas
Born: April 15, 1974 (Flint, Michigan)
Career: 11 seasons (2002-04, 2005-12, 2013-14)
Teams: Boston Bruins (2002-04, 2005-12), Florida Panthers (2013-14), Dallas Stars (2014)
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (2011), two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2009, 2011), four-time NHL All-Star (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012), Conn Smythe Trophy winner (2011)
Bottom line: In 2011 with the Boston Bruins, Michigan native Tim Thomas became the first goaltender to win the Stanley Cup, Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy all in the same season since Bernie Parent in 1974-75.
Thomas' early years as a pro were a study in determination. He bounced around the minor leagues for five years before making it to the NHL.
Once he got to the Show, he made his time count.
13. Neal Broten
Born: Nov. 29, 1959 (Roseau, Minnesota)
Career: 17 seasons (1980-97)
Teams: Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars (1980-95, 1997), New Jersey Devils (1995-97), Los Angeles Kings (1997)
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (1995), two-time NHL All-Star (1983, 1986)
Bottom line: Perhaps the best pound-for-pound player on the 1980 U.S. hockey team that won the gold medal, Neal Broten had his No. 7 retired by the Dallas Stars and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.
Broten was a two-time All-Star and scored the game-winning goal for the New Jersey Devils in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals to clinch the title.
12. Ryan Miller
Born: July 17, 1980 (East Lansing, Michigan)
Career: 17 seasons (2002-04, 2005-present)
Teams: Buffalo Sabres (2002-04, 2005-14), St. Louis Blues (2014), Vancouver Canucks (2014-17), Anaheim Ducks (2017-present)
Career highlights: NHL All-Star (2007), Vezina Trophy (2010)
Bottom line: Ryan Miller holds the record for most career wins by an American-born goaltender with 382 and set the NHL record with 10 shootout wins in 2010 — the same year he won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender.
The entire Miller family is a great American hockey story. Ryan, his brother Drew and cousins Kelly, Kevin and Kip all played for hometown Michigan State and all played in the NHL.
11. Rod Langway
Born: May 3, 1957 (USAFB Taiwei, Taipan)
Career: 15 seasons (1978-93)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens (1978-82), Washington Capitals (1982-93)
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (1979), two-time Norris Trophy winner (1983, 1984), six-time NHL All-Star (1981-86)
Bottom line: Rod Langway was different from most great American-born players because he was not considered an offensive threat throughout his career.
He was a pure defender who won two Norris Trophies and even finished as runner-up to Wayne Gretzky for the Hart Trophy in 1984.
Langway also was one of the last players in hockey who was allowed to play without a helmet because of a grandfather clause.
10. Joe Mullen
Born: Feb. 26, 1957 (New York City, New York)
Position: Right wing
Career: 17 seasons (1979-96)
Teams: St. Louis Blues (1979-86), Calgary Flames (1986-90), Pittsburgh Penguins (1990-95, 1996-97), Boston Bruins (1995-96)
Career highlights: Three-time Stanley Cup champion (1989, 1991, 1992), two-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner (1987, 1989), three-time NHL All-Star (1989, 1990, 1994)
Bottom line: Joe Mullen was the first American-born player to score 500 goals and 1,000 points and was a dyed-in-the-wool winner in 17 NHL seasons.
One of the more beloved teammates of all time, Mullen won three Stanley Cup titles with two different teams and took home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship twice.
9. Jonathan Quick
Born: Jan. 21, 1986 (Milford, Connecticut)
Career: 13 seasons (2007-present)
Teams: Los Angeles Kings (2007-present)
Career highlights: Two-time Stanley Cup champion (2012, 2014), three-time NHL All-Star (2012, 2016, 2018), Conn Smythe Trophy (2012), two-time Jennings Trophy winner (2014, 2018)
Bottom line: Jonathan Quick was born in Connecticut and still calls the state home despite playing his entire career on the West Coast for the Los Angeles Kings.
Quick can already put his name alongside the greatest goaltenders of all time with two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL playoffs MVP in 2012.
8. Brian Leetch
Born: March 3, 1968 (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Career: 19 seasons (1987-2006)
Teams: New York Rangers (1987-2003), Toronto Maple Leafs (2003-05), Boston Bruins (2005-06)
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (1994), two-time Norris Trophy winner (1992, 1997), Conn Smythe Award (1994)
Bottom line: Brian Leetch was the first American-born Conn Smythe Award winner as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP and is the most beloved player in New York Rangers history after leading them to the Stanley Cup in 1994.
Leetch also probably could've been an MLB pitcher if his heart had led him down that road. His fastball was clocked in the mid-90s by the time he was a sophomore in high school.
7. Auston Matthews
Born: Sept. 17, 1997 (San Ramon, California)
Career: 4 seasons (2016-present)
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs
Career highlights: Four-time NHL All-Star (2017-present), Calder Memorial Trophy (2017), NHL All-Rookie team (2017)
Bottom line: It's scary how good Auston Matthews already is, at just 23 years old, and scary to think of how good he will continue to get as he comes into his prime.
Matthews spent his childhood in Arizona as a fan of the Phoenix Coyotes and played professionally in Switzerland before making the leap to the NHL in 2016.
He's been an All-Star in all four of his NHL seasons through 2020.
6. Frank Brimsek
Born: Sept. 26, 1915 (Eveleth, Minnesota)
Died: Nov. 11, 1998 (Virginia, Minnesota)
Career: 10 seasons (1938-43, 1945-50)
Teams: Boston Bruins (1938-43, 1945-49), Chicago Blackhawks (1949-50)
Career highlights: Two-time Stanley Cup champion (1939, 1941), Calder Memorial Trophy (1939), NHL All-Star (1947, 1948), two-time Vezina Trophy winner (1939, 1942)
Bottom line: Frank Brimsek was the first American-born goaltender inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for good reason. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goalie led the Boston Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cups.
Brimsek was known for his no-nonsense style of play. He didn't wear a mask, and if you stood in front of his net, you were likely to end up on your back.
5. Pat LaFontaine
Born: Feb. 22, 1965 (St. Louis, Missouri)
Career: 15 seasons (1983-98)
Teams: New York Islanders (1983-91), Buffalo Sabres (1991-97), New York Rangers (1997-98)
Career highlights: Five-time NHL All-Star (1988-91, 1993), Masterson Memorial Trophy (1995)
Bottom line: Pat LaFontaine isn't just one of the greatest American-born hockey players in history. He's one of the greatest hockey players of all time. Period.
Not only that, but you can make an argument that Pat LaFontaine is the greatest player in NHL history to never win a Stanley Cup.
He joined the New York Islanders in 1983-84, which was one year after they won four straight Stanley Cup titles.
4. Chris Chelios
Born: Jan. 25, 1962 (Chicago, Illinois)
Career: 27 seasons (1983-2010)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens (1983-90), Chicago Blackhawks (1990-99), Detroit Red Wings (1999-2009), Atlanta Thrashers (2009-10)
Career highlights: Three-time Stanley Cup champion (1986, 2002, 2008), three-time Norris Trophy winner (1989, 1993, 1996), 11-time NHL All-Star (1985, 1990-94, 1996-98, 2000, 20002)
Bottom line: Check once, check twice, check three times. Chris Chelios really did play 27 seasons in the NHL.
He holds the NHL record for most career games by a defensemen (1,651) and most career playoff games (266). He won three Stanley Cups and three Norris Trophies and played in the NHL until he was 48 years old.
Chelios also was an 11-time All-Star.
3. Brett Hull
Born: Aug. 9, 1964 (Belleville, Ontario, Canada)
Position: Right wing
Career: 20 seasons (1985-2004, 2005-06)
Teams: Calgary Flames (1985-88), St. Louis Blues (1988-98), Dallas Stars (1998-2001), Detroit Red Wings (2002-04), Phoenix Coyotes (2005-06)
Career highlights: Two-time Stanley Cup champion (1999, 2002), nine-time NHL All-Star (1989-94, 1996, 1997, 2001), Hart Trophy (1991)
Bottom line: Brett Hull may have been born in Canada, but he was an American by birth thanks to his American figure skater mother, Joanne Robinson.
Hull's father, obviously, was NHL legend Bobby Hull, but Brett Hull was a great player in his own right and, like his father, accomplished everything you can in the NHL.
Hands down, Brett Hull is one of the greatest right wingers of all time.
2. Mike Modano
Born: June 7, 1970 (Livonia, Michigan)
Career: 23 seasons (1988-2011)
Teams: Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars (1988-2010), Detroit Red Wings (2010-11)
Career highlights: Stanley Cup champion (1999), NHL All-Rookie team (1990), eight-time NHL All-Star (1993, 1998-2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009)
Bottom line: No player is more associated with the Dallas Stars franchise than Mike Modano, who had a bow-legged skating stride that was as great to watch as a Ray Allen jumper.
Modano, a nine-time All-Star, won his lone Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
1. Patrick Kane
Born: Nov. 19, 1988 (Buffalo, New York)
Position: Right wing
Career: 13 seasons (2007-present)
Teams: Chicago Blackhawks
Career highlights: Three-time Stanley Cup champion (2010, 2013, 2015), Hart Trophy (2016), nine-time NHL All-Star (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015-2020), Calder Memorial Trophy (2008), NHL All-Rookie Team (2008), Conn Smythe Trophy (2013)
Bottom line: The greatest American-born NHL player of all time is Patrick Kane, a three-time Stanley Cup champion, Hart Trophy winner and nine-time NHL All-Star.
Kane, who is guaranteed a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, has played his entire career with the Chicago Blackhawks so far.
When his current contract runs out in 2023, Kane will have surpassed $130 million in career earnings.
Related: Greatest NHL Players of All Time