GamingZion presents a list of the top five best NHL forwards of all time, featuring history-making ice hockey players from American and Canadian teams.
Richard was an unstoppable force
Lemieux was an inspiration
Gretzky will always be number one
If its popularity on online gambling sites in Canada and US is any indication, ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in North America. The game enjoys similar popularity in countries such as Russia and Finland, and the Ice Hockey World Championship and similar competitions always engage fans and NHL betting picks, but it is the annual NHL in North America that captivates the continent year-in and year-out.
American and Canadian NHL teams have produced a number of hockey all-stars, included but not limited to some of the best NHL forwards. These offense players’ penchant for handling a puck has made them legendary, and to celebrate their excellence, GamingZion has compiled a list of the best NHL forwards that have gone down in the history of the sport as being absolutely incomparable.
5. Jean Béliveau
Quebec-born Jean Béliveau—also known as “Le Gros Bill”—was a Montreal Canadiens player who retired in 1971. Even at the beginning of his career as a centre, he was so obviously talented that after failing to entice him to play professionally, the Canadiens bought the entire Quebec Senior League that he played for so that he’d be forced into going pro with them. Whether he wanted it or not, he left quite the legacy in his wake, as he went on to lead his team to victory in 10 NHL championships.
Béliveau’s stats include 507 goals and 712 assists for 1,219 points in 1,125 NHL games, in addition to 70 goals and 90 assists for 176 points in 162 playoff games. Among other dazzling skills on the ice, he was well known and feared by rivals for his powerful backhand and wrist shot. He was a natural leader, a masterful stickhandler, and powerful skater who has rightfully gone down in history as a Habs and hockey legend and one of the greatest captains and best NHL forwards in the league’s history.
4. Maurice Richard
Maurice “Rocket” Richard is a Montreal Canadiens icon, and he and the other fantastic French Canadian players that followed in his wake are why the team is still so highly regarded in NHL hockey betting lines today. Legendary for his unstoppable skating and attacks on the net, he scored goals in a way few others ever have—or ever will. He was so beloved by the game, in fact, that when he was suspended during the 1954-55 season, there was a massive riot in Montreal later dubbed the “Richard Riot”.
Richard was a scoring sensation and indisputably one of the best NHL forwards. His feats as a winger include: scoring 30 or more goals a season 9 times and scoring 40 or above 5 times; participating in the playoffs 8 times; leading the league in goals 4 times; and being named to 14 straight All-Star teams. By the time he’d hung up his skates in 1960, he held close to 20 NHL records and had amassed more goals than any player before him, with 544 goals and 421 assists for 965 points to his credit in 978 regular season games.
3. Mario Lemieux
From the very start of his career, Mario Lemieux was the talk of the hockey world and Canadian gambling news. The man now known as “The Magnificent One” went pro as a centre with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1984 and the rest is history. Lemieux won numerous NHL individual awards throughout his career, and his impressive stats include 690 goals and 1,033 assists for 1,723 points in 915 games in regular season, and 76 goals and 96 assists for 172 points in 107 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Lemieux’s feats are numerous, but one in particular stands out that showcases just how talented he was: In 1988 he became the only NHL player to manage all 5 types of goals—even-strength, power play, short-handed, penalty shot, and empty-net—in a single game. He also admirably continued to play, and still be at the forefront of the league in terms of goals and talent, while battling Hodgkin’s Disease and chronic injuries from 1993-2005.
2. Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe was a Canada-born Detroit Red Wings winger who gained the nickname “Mr. Hockey” at some point during his unusually long and illustrious career, during which he was always at the top of NHL betting odds and considered one of the best NHL forwards. A 23 time NHL All-Star, he set—and continues to hold—records that include most goals scored during the regular season, most winning goals scored, most seasons played, and most regular-season games played.
Famous for being one of the most durable players of all time, he was known for his scoring expertise, physical strength, dominance on the ice, and the impressive length of his career, which included 26 NHL seasons and 6 seasons in the World Hockey Association. The legendary player’s stats include 801 goals and 1,049 assists for 1,850 points in 1,767 regular season games.
1. Wayne Gretzky
While rankings of hockey greatness are always heavily contested by fans and those who like to bet on sports in Canada, everyone agrees that Wayne Gretzky is the best hockey player of all time and at the top of every list when it comes to the best NHL forwards. The centre known as “The Great One” played for a number of teams over the course of his 1978-1999 career, and brought glory and a place in hockey history to each and every one of them.
Gretzky is a truly fascinating player. He was not particularly strong nor particularly fast, but was a magnificent skater with great balance. And while he couldn’t score goals with the same force as other greats, he had a hard slap shot and an incredible eye for spotting openings. He was a hockey savant who saw and played the game like no one else. His unparalleled hockey knowledge allowed him to execute incredibly difficult passes and plays with ease, and to know where the puck or players would be before even they knew.
At the time of his retirement, Gretzky held 61 NHL records, including 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 All-Star records. His mind-blowing stats include 894 goals and 1,963 assists for 2,857 points in 1,487 regular season games and 122 goals and 260 assists for 382 points in 208 playoff games. He is, hands down, not only the best forward but the best ice hockey player of all time, and a true living legend.