They’re the best of the best. They’re the NHL’s All-Decade Team.
Who have been the league’s most accomplished players over the past 10 seasons, from 2010-11 through 2019-20?
Let’s get into it:
FIRST LINE: LW Alex Ovechkin – C Sidney Crosby – RW Patrick Kane
The first line is easy – and legendary. Nobody had more regular-season points than Kane (792), nobody had more regular-season goals than Ovechkin (437) and nobody had more playoff points than Crosby (107) in the past decade. The franchise icons combined to win five of the past 10 Stanley Cups, four Conn Smythe Trophies, three Hart Trophies, three Lindsay Awards, two Art Ross Trophies and eight Rocket Richard Trophies, as well as eight first all-star team selections and eight second all-star teams. In short, they completely dominated the decade more than anyone else.
SECOND LINE: LW Brad Marchand – C Evgeni Malkin – RW Nikita Kucherov
These guys got their hands on plenty of hardware, too. In the past 10 seasons, they combined to win four Cups, two Harts, two Lindsays and two Art Rosses, plus four first all-star team selections and four second all-star teams. Kucherov’s 128-point campaign in 2018-19 was the NHL’s highest-scoring season since Mario Lemieux (161 points) and Jaromir Jagr (149) went off for Pittsburgh in 1995-96. Malkin’s point-per-game average over the past decade (1.16) trails only Connor McDavid (1.34) and Crosby (1.23). Marchand beats you with goals and goad, evolving into a 100-point threat while elevating his agitating ways to an art form.
THIRD LINE: LW Jamie Benn – C Connor McDavid – RW Blake Wheeler
Let’s start with the best player in the world. McDavid has only played five NHL seasons – and he missed time in two of them due to injury – but he’s already collected a Hart, two Lindsays, two Art Rosses and been named to three first all-star teams. The only thing missing is playoff success – let’s see how the next decade plays out on that front. Benn, meanwhile, was the second-highest scoring left winger behind Ovechkin over the past decade, nabbing an Art Ross, two first all-star team berths and a second all-star team in the process. Wheeler hasn’t won any major awards and only has one second all-star team selection, but he’s been a near point-per-game player – and heart-and-soul leader – during his nine seasons in Winnipeg, and he’s third among right wingers in scoring since 2010-11.
FOURTH LINE: LW Taylor Hall – C Steven Stamkos – RW David Pastrnak
The NHL is bursting with superlative centers, so here’s the all-decade case for Stamkos: he scored more goals (348) in the past 10 seasons than any player not named Ovechkin, and his points-per-game average (1.08) ranks fifth in the league behind only McDavid, Crosby, Malkin and Kane. He also claimed a Rocket Richard and two second all-star team berths – and, of course, his first Stanley Cup, even if he only played a grand total of 2:47 in the 2020 playoffs. Hall, with a Hart and first all-star team selection, was a pretty obvious choice for fourth-line left winger, beating out Max Pacioretty and Johnny Gaudreau. Pastrnak, with a Cup ring, Rocket Richard and first all-star team berth, makes the cut despite just six NHL seasons to his credit, ahead of Phil Kessel, Corey Perry and Jakub Voracek.
FIRST DEFENSE PAIR: Victor Hedman – Duncan Keith
They’re not the highest-scoring D-men but they’re the two best blueliners of the decade. For starters, they’re the only two defensemen to win the Conn Smythe since Scott Niedermayer in 2007, with Hedman the reigning playoff MVP and Keith winning it in 2015. Keith has won two Cups since 2010-11, Hedman is coming off his first. They’re 1-2 in defensemen playoff scoring over the past 10 years (Hedman is first with 70 points, Keith second with 63). They’ve both won the Norris Trophy, and Hedman has been a top-three finalist in each of the past four seasons. Hedman’s been named to one first all-star team and three second all-star teams, Keith has one first and one second all-star team selection. They’re studs in every zone and can play it fast and loose or rough and tough.
SECOND DEFENSE PAIR: Erik Karlsson – Drew Doughty
Karlsson is the highest-scoring D-man of the past decade (577 points) and the only defenseman to win two Norris Trophies in that span. He was a finalist four times. Karlsson’s points per game (0.85) easily leads all defensemen, well ahead of runner-up Kris Letang (0.77). Doughty won one Norris and has been a three-time finalist – and seven times in the top 10 – since 2010-11. And, of course, he led the Kings to two Cups in the middle of the decade. Karlsson has four first all-star team berths, Doughty has two first-teams and one second team. Only Ryan Suter (27:10) has averaged more ice time per game over the past 10 seasons than Doughty (26:39) and Karlsson (26:15).
THIRD DEFENSE PAIR: Brent Burns – Roman Josi
Among defensemen since 2010-11, Burns ranks first in goals (172) and second in points (557) and he’s also first in playoff goals (20) and fourth in playoff points (59). He’s won a Norris and been named to two first all-star teams and one second team. Plus, he’s got the whole mountain-man-beard-and-toothless-grin thing going on. Josi, meanwhile, has been the best defenseman on the NHL’s best blueline over the past decade. He’s coming off his first Norris and first all-star team berth. He finished top-10 in voting in four of the previous five seasons – and 11th in the other season. Both Burns and Josi have been to the Cup final, but they’re both still looking for a ring.
STARTING GOALIE: Carey Price
Most NHL goalies will tell you Price is the No. 1 netminder on the planet. He won the Hart in his peak season of 2014-15, becoming the first goaltender to do so since Jose Theodore in 2001-02. Before that, Dominik Hasek won back-to-back Harts in 1996-97 and ’97-98, and then you have to go all the way back to Jacques Plante in 1961-62. Price also won the Vezina in 2014-15 and was a top-three finalist in 2016-17, and he finished top-10 in Vezina voting on four other occasions in the past decade. He’s third in regular-season wins since 2010-11 with 288, behind Marc-Andre Fleury (318) and Pekka Rinne (297).
BACKUP GOALIE: Tuukka Rask
Rask gets the No. 2 job on the strength of his consistent stellar play. He has the best goals-against average (2.29) and save percentage (.921) among active goalies over the past 10 seasons. In the playoffs, he’s third in save percentage (.928) among goalies with at least 15 post-season games. Rask has been to the Cup final three times, with one ring for his efforts. He’s won a Vezina and been a first and second-team all-star.
There’s always going to be glaring omissions in a project like this, and the All-Decade All-Star Team is no exception. Here are other players, by position, who were considered:
Centers: Claude Giroux, John Tavares, Nathan MacKinnon, Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom, Leon Draisaitl, Tyler Seguin
Left wingers: Max Pacioretty, Johnny Gaudreau, Artemi Panarin, Gabriel Landeskog, Zach Parise
Right wingers: Phil Kessel, Jakub Voracek, Corey Perry, Vladimir Tarasenko, Mark Stone
Defensemen: Shea Weber, Kris Letang, Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan Suter, Mark Giordano, P.K. Subban, John Carlson
Goalies: Marc-Andre Fleury, Braden Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford, Pekka Rinne