Mario Lemieux (#66), Wayne Gretzky (#99), Bobby Orr (#4) and Gordie Howe (#9). When you envision these four men and the numbers they wore, what is the first thing you think of? Well it better be that they are clearly the most influential players to EVER graze the ice.
But I am not here to reminisce on people who are no longer active players in the NHL. I am here to discuss THIS YEARS players and the jersey numbers they currently wear. With about 700 players on the active NHL roster and only 98 numbers that can be used, clearly there is bound to be several numbers that are duplicated throughout the league. Today, I chose ODD jersey numbers and I chose ONE player (two if it was impossible to choose) from each jersey number who I feel deserves credit for his play this year.
Keep in mind: The higher up the numbers go, the less likely you are to find an elite player currently active in the league. So don’t be surprised when you see names that you’ve never even heard of.
# 1- Brian Elliott- While most of you were probably expecting to see Roberto Luongo’s name filling the “#1” spot, Elliott has stolen games away from Jaroslav Halak who was suppose to give the Blues the best goaltending they’ve had in years.
# 3- Dion Phaneuf- With the Leafs in the 6th place spot in the Eastern conference, the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs has helped give his team the hope they’ve been longing for year after year.
#5- Nicklas Lidstrom- There shouldn’t be any surprise that the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom made the list for the best person who currently wears a Number 5 jersey. The 41-year-old is number six in the league for defenseman with 19 points in 26 games and a +8 rating.
#7- Dmitry Kulikov- Although I am still hesitant on his play, he has put up enough points to put him in the top 10 amongst defenseman with 19 points (3-16-19) and has shown he is a huge asset on the Panthers power-play with 8 power-play points.
#9- Stephen Weiss- It must be a nice feeling for Stephen Weiss to finally see a winning team being made out of Florida Panthers. As a result, he is tearing up the statistic charts with 29 points in 25 games and has a remarkable +15 rating.
#11- Anze Kopitar- There was a lot of expectations for the Los Angeles Kings this year and Kopitar is thriving under the pressure with 26 points in 27 games.
#13- Pavel Datsyuk- Pavel Datsyuk has easily been the best number 13 in the league for years and he is continuing to pump out big numbers year after year.
#15- Craig Smith- The Rookie out of Wisconsin has been impressive so far for the Nashville team that lacks a certain scoring touch.
#17- Radim Vrbata- Although he doesn’t get a lot of publicity due to the fact that he plays for a smaller marketed team in Phoenix, Vrbata is amongst the top 30 forwards in the NHL with 24 points so far this season.
#19- Jonathan Toews- This number has a lot of super-star talent in front of it, from elite players such as Tyler Seguin to Nicklas Backstrom. But the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks continues to shine with every game he plays and it shows with his 32 points in just 28 games.
#23- Alexander Edler- The only thing beside the Sedin brothers that seems to be working in Vancouver right now is the unbelievable defensive play of Alexander Edler.
#25- Jason Chimera- On a team with Backstrom, Semin, and…Oveckin, this 32-year-old winger is leading the struggling Washington Capitals with 11 goals.
#27- Kyle Quincey- Quincey is having quite the turnaround season as he leads all Avalanche defenseman with 16 points.
#29- Jason Pominville- Pominville is on track to surpass his career high of 80 points. In just 25 games the captain of the Buffalo Sabres has recorded 27 points (9-18-27).
#31- Carey Price- This hasn’t been a fantastic season for him, but the competition for players who wear the #31 is hardly a battle.
#33- Henrik Sedin/Zdeno Chara- These are two of the best players in the game and it was quite hard to choose between them given the fact that one is a center and one is a defenseman. Forward, Henrik Sedin and Defenseman, Zdeno Chara are consistently impressive year after year, and are constantly huge assets to their teams. These two captains battled for the Stanley Cup last season, but unfortunately, Zdeno Chara won.
#35- Jimmy Howard-After a slow start, he has picked up his play along with the entire Detroit Red Wings team, giving them a chance to once again reach the playoffs for the 21st year in a row. Scary.
#37- Ryan O’Reilly- Mr. Ryan O’Reilly is making a difference for the Colorado Avalanche, and he is only 20 years old! Although they have fallen dramatically in the standings, O’Reilly has been showing early signs of emerging into a top player as he is the leading scorer for the Avalanche with 21 points.
#39- Logan Couture- Sophomore slump? I don’t think so. Logan Couture has proved to the hockey world that his first year in the league was not just beginners luck, but pure talent, as he is shining once again with the San Jose Sharks.
#41- Mike Smith- After some lack-luster years in the league as a back-up goalie, he has earned the starting spot with the Phoenix Coyotes and is statistically one of the best goaltenders in the league this season.
#43-Mike Weaver- This defensive defensemen is steady on the point. He may not be the prettiest of skaters, but he gets the job done.
#45-Arron Asham- Due to the fact that he is the only #45 in the league, Arron Asham is the winner of the #45 battle. You may recognize him as a 4th line winger on the first place Pittsburgh Penguins, or the guy who did the “K.O” gesture after he destroyed the Capitals very own, Jay Beagle.
# 47-Marc-Andre Bergeron- Although there isn’t too many number 47’s in the league, Marc-Andre Bergeron deserves to be on the list regardless. For a guy who was a healthy scratch almost all of last season with Tampa, this year he has found his niche as the Lightning’s power-play quarterback.
#49-Rich Peverley- Peverley has become a very consistent player for the Boston Bruins 3rd line as he has recorded 18 points in just 24 games.
#51-Brian Campbell- It’s been a few years since Campbell has been considered among the top defenseman in the league. But with a fresh new start in Florida, he has put up notable numbers and is the best defensemen statistically in the league with 23 points.
#53- Jeff Skinner- Much like Couture, he also hasn’t fallen victim to the Sophomore Slump. And as Carolina and super-star Eric Staal have been struggling, young Skinner has found a way to produce big numbers once again.
#55-Sergei Gonchar- I thought Gonchar’s hockey days were soon to be over after his Stanley Cup win in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But I was very wrong. After a slow start to the season with the Senators, Sergei has put up 18 points and has a +2 rating in 26 games.
#57- Tyler Myers- Well, it was either Tyler Myers as the best #57, or some guy the NHL has never even heard of. In 19 games played, the 6’8 defenseman has registered only 6 points. As of November 20, he was placed on injured reserve with a broken wrist.
#59- Chad LaRose-Chad LaRose isn’t you’d call a player who looks good on ESPN highlights (flashy, exciting). He is a gritty forward who is all about energy and drive, and has quite the mouth on him. But this year he is proving himself to be an important asset to the Hurricanes by recording 16 points in 29 games.
#61- Rick Nash- After this season, Nash has 6 more years left on a contract that pays him 62.4 million. Talk about under pressure? The poor guy Captains a team who hasn’t even gotten 20 points yet while some teams are breaching 40. Now this is what I call wasted talent.
#63- Brad Marchand- It’s hard to imagine a team that was experiencing a horrendous start to the season winning only 4 games in the month of October, to going 14-1-1 throughout the month of November and part of December. And you can thank winger Brad Marchand for helping his team out by tallying 19 points.
#65- Erik Karlsson- After an impressive sophomore season, Karlsson has showed that he is ready to take his talents to the top of the defensive standings by posting 23 points which is the 2nd best among defenseman.
#67- Max Pacioretty- You may all remember Max Pacioretty as the guy Zdeno Chara nearly killed after he fractured his neck vertebra last season, but this year he can be considered the Montreal Canadians 2nd leading point scorer with 19 points in 25 games.
#69- Andrew Desjardins- Not many people with this number, so Andrew Desjardins it is. With just 5 points in 23 games, there really is not much else to say about this 4th line center.
#71- Evgeni Malkin- Even though he seems to be injured every other second due to his summer knee surgery, you cannot forget the wonders that this Russian can create. There really is no one like him.
#73- Michael Ryder-There isn’t much to say about Michael Ryder except he skipped town after the Boston Bruins won the Cup last year, and was signed to the Dallas Stars where is currently has 16 points.
#75- Hal Gill-Other than being a giant, Hal Gill has been anything but productive for the Montreal Canadians defense as he has only registered 2 points in 23 games. Just retire already.
#77- Tom Gilbert-Gilbert has been impressive on defense for a team who
is was impressing more than usual. With 3 goal and 10 assists, Gilbert is leading the Oilers defense in points.
#79- NO ONE
#81- Phil Kessel- 35 Points in 28 games. Need I say more?
#83- Ales Hemsky- When Ales Hemsky plays with all his capabilities, he is an extremely dangerous offensive threat for other teams. But this season he hasn’t shown his full potential as he has only recorded 11 points.
#85- Mathieu Perreault- Did you really think I’d put Rostislav Olesz?
#87- Sidney Crosby- Crosby tallied 12 points in 8 games after being sidelined for 320 days with a concussion…Must I go on? Hands down, the best player in the National Hockey League.
#89- Mikkel Boedker-For being such a high draft pick in 2008, Boedker has been quite the let down for the Phoenix Coyotes over the past few years. He’s hoping for a turnaround season as he has already put up 10 points in 27 games.
#91- Steven Stamkos- I wanted to go with John Tavares on this one, but being in 3rd place in the league in goals and 6th in points, it’s hard to let my hatred for Steven Stamkos get in the way of the inevitable. With 16 goals already early on in the season, it’s pretty apparent that Stamkos is back to his old self again. *Sigh*
#93- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins- If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins keeps his stellar play up, don’t be surprised when he wins the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the year. He couldn’t have been drafted to a better team to fit his style of play. The Oilers are a young and upcoming team with great talent and he fits the mold perfectly. Not to mention, he is Edmonton’s leading scorer with 29 points in just 27 games. The kid is good.
#95- NO ONE
#97- Matt Gilroy- Well, I bet the Tampa Bay Lightning are regretting their decision on picking up offensive defenseman Matt Gilroy from the New York Rangers. He was suppose to add variety and scoring to their defense, and instead he has added just 6 points in 25 games.
#99- Lets NOT forget
Keep a look out for next week’s article on the greatest EVEN jersey numbers.
Thanks for reading! Any and all comments are greatly appreciated.
Please visit our main NHL page: Too Many Men On The Site
Want to talk more hockey? Then you can follow The Rat Pack on Twitter! Me: @PeejLewiz Frank Rekas: @TheRatTrick Josh Luecht: @joshluecht, David Lasster @davidlasster, Patrick McLaughlin: @PatrickRattrick Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Cameron Taherina:@Lord_Panther and David Rodriguez @davidbub_2.