The bottom half of our top 10 had players from a plethora of eras, from the 20s all the way up to the 2000s. Coming up in our top five are many star forwards again from a large variety of eras. Let’s get to it!
- Henrik and Daniel Sedin
The Sedins are without a doubt the greatest twins to ever play in the NHL. Both entering the NHL in 2000-01, they took a while to fully mature, but once they did, they were a thing to behold. Henrik, always considered the playmaking one of the duo at centre, saw gradual improvements from his rookie season before seeing a sudden jump in the 2005-06 season, where his point total jumped up to 75 points, including 57 assists. His 71 assists the next year set a Canuck record, cementing his legacy. Henrik would be a regular star player until the 2009-10 season when he pushed through to the level of superstardom. Henrik led the NHL with 83 assists in 112 points in 82 points, becoming one of just three players to surpass an assist-per-game in the post-lockout era. Henrik would lead the NHL in assists for two more consecutive seasons. To date, he has won the Hart, Art Ross, and King Clancy trophies each once.
Daniel, the youngest player on the list as he was born minutes after Henrik, started off a bit quicker than his brother. He scored 20 goals in his rookie season, finishing 8th in Calder voting. His notable point lead over his brother Henrik in the 2003-04 season made it seem like he might be the better player overall. However, the following seasons would paint them as much more evenly matched. Despite the fact that Daniel is often portrayed as the sniper of the duo, he’s still more adept as a playmaker than a scorer. Still, unlike Henrik, Daniel has regularly surpassed the 20-goal mark in his career, hitting 36 goals in the 2006-07 season. Like his brother, Daniel became a superstar in the 2009-10 season; however, Daniel missed 19 games, causing him to be less recognized than his brother. Still, Daniel earned a spot on the Second All-Star Team. Daniel led the NHL in power play goals the next year along with points, winning him the Art Ross, making the Sedins the only brothers to lead the NHL in scoring in back-to-back seasons. He also won the Ted Lindsay award, the first year after it was renamed after the feisty forward of the 40s and 50s. In the 2014-15 season, Daniel finished 4th in Lady Byng voting, a testament to his gentlemanly conduct.
The Bentley brothers are perhaps the most alike the Sedin twins in that they were only four years apart in age and both spent considerable time playing for the same team at the same time, the Chicago Black Hawks. Doug, the elder brother, began his career in 1939 but didn’t break out as a core player for Chicago until 1942-43 when he led the NHL in goals with 33 and points with 73. Doug finished 2nd in Hart trophy voting. Doug’s 38 goals the following season (1943-44) would also lead the NHL and was the highest total seen by any player since the 1929-30 season. Doug remained a point-per-game player over the next two seasons and became more of a playmaker in his later years. For two consecutive seasons starting in 1947, Doug led the NHL in assists, peaking at 43 assists in 58 games. Doug never won the Hart trophy, but was on the First All-Star Team three times in his career.
Despite being four years younger, Max’s career started only one year later, in 1940. Max paired with Doug to create a deadly pairing on Chicago’s top line and finished just behind his brother in the 1942-43 season with 70 points in 47 games. His 2 PIM in that season helped earn him a Lady Byng trophy. After a two-year break, Max came back to lead the NHL in points and win the Hart trophy. The following year, he set a new personal best with 72 points in 60 games, leading the NHL again and finishing 3rd in Hart voting. Shortly after the brother pair would be split up as Max was traded away from the floundering Black Hawks to a much stronger team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Max had his good moments, but was usually less heavily relied upon in Toronto. Max would join the New York Rangers for his final season with his brother Doug as they both had one final hurrah together.
- Frank and Pete Mahovlich
The Mahovlich brothers had a combined significant effect on the NHL’s two oldest teams, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Frank, the smaller, but older brother spent the first part of his long NHL career with the Maple Leafs starting in the mid 50s, where he won the Calder trophy in 1958. Frank’s 48 goals in the 1960-61 season put him in an elite category, with only Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, and Bernie Geoffrion scoring more goals in a single season. Frank would push his goal best up to 49 in the 1968-69 season, though by that time Bobby Hull had already surpassed 50 goals, while Phil Esposito had matched Frank’s 49 goals. Frank would then be moved to Detroit in his early 30s where he would begin playing with his brother Pete. Frank would follow Pete to the Montreal Canadiens during the early 70s. Despite being in his mid 30s by this point, Frank was still a solid player for the Canadiens and performed well with his brother on his team, setting a new personal best of 96 points in 76 games and earning a spot on the First All-Star team the following year with 93 points at 35 years old. Frank would play one more year in the NHL before leaving to the WHA to end his hockey career at 40 years old.
Pete’s career began with the Detroit Red Wings, but even with the support of Frank, who arrived in Pete’s second season, Pete wasn’t able to break through and become an NHL regular. Pete was moved to the Montreal Canadiens and in the 1970-71 season, the 6’5” giant would finally begin to produce. Pete steadily improved more and more each season up until the climax in 1974-75 season when he had an astounding 82 assists in 80 games and 117 points, finishing just behind Guy Lafleur on the team. Pete would again pass the centennial mark the next season with 105 points and finish 7th in Hart voting. Though Pete would never quite return to that level of dominance, he remained a strong, capable offensive player for the remainder of career before retiring in 1981 at 34 years old.
- Phil and Tony Esposito
The only goalie and skater combination on our list, Phil and Tony Esposito were both superstars in their respective roles. Phil essentially re-wrote the record book when it came to offensive NHL records in the late 60s and early 70s. Phil quickly established himself as an offensive force in the mid 60s when he began his career. In the 1967-68 season, the first of the expansion era, Phil led the NHL with 49 assists. This, however, was child’s play compared to what was to come. In the 1968-69 season Phil scored 49 goals, nearly becoming the 4th player to score 50 goals and broke the previous assist record by a stunning 15 assists, tallying 77 assists to also breaking the 100-point barrier along with Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull. However, unlike Howe and Hull, Esposito didn’t only break the 100-point barrier, he obliterated it. Phil’s 126 points signalled a new era coming to NHL hockey. Two years later in the 1970-71, Phil would set what would be considered unbreakable records. Phil would push the point record to a mind blowing 152 points, 55 points more than it had been just three years prior. The goal record he pushed to 76 goals, a full 18 goals above the 58 goals Hull had scored. The season was no fluke, as Phil continued to lead the NHL in points for three more consecutive seasons and lead in goals for four more consecutive years. He was truly one of the most offensively dominant forwards of all-time.
Being a goaltender, Tony wasn’t able to achieve the same feats as his brother. That said, Tony still set records of his own. Tony played a bit for the Canadiens, but didn’t get a real chance to become a starting goaltender until the 1969-70 season with Chicago, and boy did he ever prove himself. Tony had what is undoubtedly the best rookie goaltender campaign in NHL history. He led the NHL with 38 wins and had a stunning 15 shutouts, a number that is still the single season record for all goaltenders in the modern era (post 1929), not just rookies. Tony obviously won the Calder trophy and the Vezina along with it. Furthermore, he almost won the Hart trophy, finishing 2nd in voting. He would have another stunning season in the 1971-72 season, with an amazing 1.77 GAA and 9 shutouts, both first in the NHL. Tony would remain a dominant goaltender for the rest of his career, though Chicago became a pretty dismal team in his later years. For his efforts to carry his team, he finished third in Hart voting in the 1979-80 season and won a spot on the First All-Star Team. He retired with an impressive 423 wins to his name.
- Maurice and Henri Richard
The Richard brothers are an interesting case as they were very far apart in age. To demonstrate the large gap, younger brother Henri was just 6 years old when Maurice began his NHL career in 1942. Maurice Richard was undoubtedly one of the best goalscorers in the history of the NHL. His 50 goals in 50 games in 1944-45 was so incredible that not only was it hard to score 50-in-50, but no player even hit 50 in 70 until Bernie Geoffrion more than 15 years later. That incredible season was the start of five consecutive seasons on the First All-Star team for Maurice. Along the way of that streak, he also had a 45 goal season that won him his first Hart trophy. The streak would end after the 1949-50 season, in which he led the NHL in goals for the third time, this time with 43 goals. Maurice would then go four consecutive seasons on the Second All-Star Team (you can thank Gordie Howe for that) and the end of which, he scored 37 goals, leading the NHL for the fourth time in his career. Richard would score 38 goals the following year and be placed on the First All-Star team again. In 1955, when he was 34, Maurice was joined by his brother Henri on the Canadiens. Maurice continued to be a strong player until injury problems and aging began to take their toll on the Rocket, prompting him to retire in 1960 at the age of 38.
Henri was much smaller than his brother Maurice, getting him the nickname the “Pocket Rocket”. Henri also had the blessing of joining the late 50s Canadiens at the beginning of his career, who were an extremely powerful team. Even with the power, Henri made his mark right away by having a solid rookie season, finishing 3rd in Calder voting. Unlike his brother, Henri was more of a playmaker, peaking at 30 goals in a season during his career. In the third year of his career, Henri led the NHL in assists with 52, earning him a spot on the First All-Star team. He continued to be a solid offensive player for the Canadiens into the 60s, being placed on the Second All-Star team three times, the last of which was the result of Henri managing 50 assists, good for the league lead again. Henri had a very long career and was awarded the Bill Masterton in 1974 for his dedication to the game. Like his brother, he retired at 38 years of age.
Honourable Mention: Joe and Brian Mullen
Joe was a star sniper in the 1980s and 90s who became the first American to score 500 career goals. He peaked at 51 goals and 110 points with +51 in the 1988-89 season with the Calgary Flames. Brian was a consistently reliable offensive forward who had seven 20+ goal seasons including one season of 32 goals and 71 points.
Honourable Mention: Saku and Mikko Koivu
Both Koivu brothers have been renowned for their defensive prowess to go along with decent offense. Saku won the Bill Masterton and King Clancy and topped out at 53 assists and 75 points in the 2006-07 season with Montreal. Mikko’s career with Minnesota had gone remarkably similar to Saku’s with the exception that he’s garnered more recognition for the defensive size of his game, finishing as high as 4th in Selke voting.*
*As of the writing of this article, Mikko is a finalist for the 2017 Selke Trophy, meaning he’s at least third in voting.