Who are the Top 10 NHL players from Massachusetts?
There’s a strong tradition of hockey in the state of Massachusetts, and not so surprisingly there is also no shortage of standout NHL players from this state.
A great deal of those talented players arrived in the years since Bobby Orr first came to town in Black and Gold and brought with him a hockey rink boom all over the Commonwealth, so there’s no coincidence to the timing of it all.
Another non-shocker: The greatest generation of Massachusetts hockey players continues to be the 1990’s when Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Tony Amonte along with Bill Guerin grew into dominant forces of talent at the NHL level. There may never such a concentration of star NHL players from Massachusetts all playing at the same time.
There were older pioneers and standouts, of course, like St. John’s Prep phenom Bobby Carpenter, one of the few high-level elite Massachusetts guys that laced up for the B's, and Acton-Boxborough’s Tom Barrasso on those Stanley Cup teams in Pittsburgh. Here’s a list of the top-10 all-time NHL players born in Massachusetts with apologies to Scott Young, Mike Milbury, Cory Schneider, Tom Poti, Tom Fitzgerald, Chris Nilan, Shawn McEachern and Jay Pandolfo for not quite making the cut.
10. Hal Gill
Certainly not as skilled offensively as some of the other guys on this lift, the 6-foot-7 defenseman was a stalwart stay-at-home D-man that played the first half of his career as a sometimes-underappreciated member of the Boston Bruins. Gill went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and finished with 1,108 games played in the NHL over a 16-year career with the Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Predators and Flyers.
Gill is the all-time leader among Massachusetts D-men with the 1,108 games played and he did that while blocking shots, banging bodies around the net and matching up against the other teams' best offensive players on most nights. Certainly, it wasn’t a glory position that Gill played over his distinguished career, but there’s something very Massachusetts about that at the end of the day. This guy was a warrior that earned everything he got. Not bad for a former eighth-round pick out of Nashoba Regional High School, eh?
9. Tom Barrasso
The Massachusetts area is clearly known more for producing talented, skilled forwards that can put up gaudy offensive numbers, so Barrasso is known as the best goaltender that the state has ever produced. The Acton-Boxborough High School standout was the fifth overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1983 NHL Draft, but had his most renowned seasons with the Penguins teams that won Stanley Cups in the 1990s.
The 18-year-old Barrasso made a big splash winning the Calder Trophy and the Vezina Trophy in his rookie season with the Sabres, but it was the back-to-back Stanley Cup seasons in 1991 and 1992 where he became known as one of the best clutch goalies of all-time. In his 19-year NHL career, Barrasso finished with 777 games played for a goalie the bulk of which came during his time with the Sabres and the Penguins.
8. Jack Eichel
The 24-year-old Eichel isn’t among the highest scorers on the Massachusetts all-time list, but he’s well on his way to being one of the best hockey players ever born in the Commonwealth. The Chelmsford native has 137 goals and 337 points in 354 games for the Buffalo Sabres since being selected No. 2 overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, and took it to another level this season with 36 goals and 78 points in 68 games.
Unfortunately for Eichel and the Sabres, he’s played on some lousy Buffalo teams since entering the league and hasn’t been able to show what he can do in the playoffs as of yet. He was in a tremendously talented draft class for Massachusetts players along with Noah Hanifin and Colin White that was considered the best since Roenick and Amonte entered the NHL. It doesn’t look like they will be as impactful as a group of Massachusetts players, but Eichel is certainly living up to his end of the bargain carrying on the torch of past greats like Roenick, Amonte and Guerin before him.
7. Kevin Stevens
The Brockton-born and Silver Lake High School alum Kevin Stevens didn’t make it to 1,000 games in his NHL career, but he did finish with 329 goals and 726 points in 874 career games while winning a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stevens was a three-time All-Star while twice topping 50 goals and 100 points with the Penguins in the early 1990s as the big left winger on those dynastic Penguins teams with Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.
When it counted most, Stevens was money as the second all-time among Massachusetts players with 46 goals and 106 points in 103 NHL playoff games. Stevens had a brief stint with the Bruins in the mid-1990s that didn’t go very well for him or with the Bruins, and he’s battled addiction on and off the ice for years after a nasty facial injury. Thankfully he’s doing well now and he’ll be remembered for his dominant days with the Penguins after a great collegiate career at Boston College.
6. Keith Yandle
The leading defenseman scorer among Massachusetts-born players, the 34-year-old Yandle isn’t even done yet with 99 goals and 573 points in 976 games played for the Coyotes, Rangers and Panthers. Yandle is also a bit of an old-school player with the NHL’s longest-running iron man streak that also now ranks fourth all-time in NHL history with 866 consecutive games played without missing any due to injury.
First and foremost, though, Yandle is a puck-moving defenseman that’s been one of the best in the NHL since debuting with the Arizona Coyotes as a 20-year-old in the 2006-07 season a few years after he was done at Cushing Academy.
5. Bobby Carpenter
The third overall pick in the 1981 NHL Draft as a St. John’s Prep phenom, Carpenter jumped into the NHL as an 18-year-old while scoring 32 goals and 67 points as a teenager for the Washington Capitals. Carpenter spent four seasons with the Bruins from 1988-92 on a pair of teams that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, and finished his NHL career with 320 goals and 728 points in 1,178 games.
Carpenter won a Cup with the Devils in 1995 as a 31-year-old role player with New Jersey, and was something of a pioneer when it came to the Massachusetts hockey phenom almost a decade before Roenick, Tkachuk, Amonte and Guerin all become NHL household names.
4. Bill Guerin
Arguably the best Massachusetts-born player to ever suit up for the Bruins, Guerin is another of one of only four native players to finish with over 800 points in the NHL along with Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Tony Amonte. Guerin also finished with the second-most NHL games played among Massachusetts skaters while finishing with 429 goals and 856 points in a well-traveled career that included stints in New Jersey, Edmonton, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders.
Among all of those greats in the 1990s, Geurin was also the only Cup winner as he hoisted it once with the Devils at the beginning of his career and then again with the Penguins toward the end. He never scored 40 goals anywhere else but with the Bruins, however, before leaving in free agency prior to the salary cap getting instituted in the NHL.
3. Tony Amonte
Jeremy Roenick’s teammate at Thayer Academy went on to become his teammate with the Blackhawks after he was dealt there by the Rangers. So for a time, Chicago had some of the best Massachusetts talent of all time playing for them in the mid-1990s.
Amonte is third on the all-time Massachusetts list with 900 points in his 1,174 NHL games played with the Rangers, Blackhawks, Coyotes, Flyers and Flames. Like Roenick and Keith Tkachuk, Amonte never won any of the major NHL Awards during his extensive, impressive career while finishing with 416 goals and 484 points. But he had some of the best hockey hair in the business during his heyday in the 1990s as he showed during this day in the life of a Blackhawks player video during his star days in Chicago.
2. Keith Tkachuk
The all-time leader among Massachusetts-born players with 538 goals scored during his career, Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick are also the only two Massachusetts guys to finish with over 1,000 NHL points in their careers. If not for Chris Nilan with a whopping 3,000 plus penalty minutes in his NHL career, Tkachuk is the only one even close with 2,219 career penalty minutes over his 1201 career games in the NHL.
Tkachuk is also the only Massachusetts-born player with over 200 power play goals in his career as well, as Big Walt used that big body and strength around the net to score a ton of goals while playing for the Jets, Coyotes, Blues and Thrashers. Tkachuk certainly wasn’t afraid to throw them with the biggest, strongest opponents either as one of the biggest guys in the NHL during his time era.
1. Jeremy Roenick
The No. 1 player in Massachusetts history has to be the guy immortalized in a movie because of his dominance on Sega Genesis videos, right? The Thayer Academy star was in the NHL as an 18-year-old after being the No. 8 overall pick in the 1988 NHL Draft and leads all Massachusetts players in games played (1363), assists (703), points (1216), plus/minus (plus-153) and game-winning goals (92) at the NHL level. He also leads all Mass players with 53 goals and 122 career points in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Roenick topped 50 goals twice and 100 points three times with the Chicago Blackhawks and spent his best years with the Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes before eventually retiring after the 2008-09 season as a 39-year-old playing for the San Jose Sharks.