If you could build the ultimate NHL Dream Team for the 2010s, which player would you select first? Alexander Ovechkin? Sidney Crosby? Maybe you’d go with a defenseman, or goaltender? It’s fun to think about building such a team.
There are plenty of great players to choose from too. When putting together a true team, you can’t just go down the line and pick the best players, regardless of position though. You have to think about what players will be on which lines. You need an equal balance of centermen, wingers and defenseman.
For our purposes, we built four lines, with centers, left-wingers and right-wingers. Then we rounded out the team with eight defensemen and three goaltenders to build a 23-man regular-season NHL roster.
These are some of the best players in the league over the past six seasons. That includes both regular season and playoff performance.
You will find some of the better players in the league missing from this list though, just because there isn’t enough room. It’s like building an Olympic hockey team. Based on creating line combinations, there just isn’t enough roster room to include all of the best players available.
That being said, you’d be pretty happy as the general manager or head coach of this dream team. If assembled, it would be the most competitive team in the world. Here is the All-NHL Team of the 2010s.
23 C - Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos was the number one overall draft pick in 2008 for a reason. The guy can flat out play the game of hockey. He is one of the best snipers in the NHL today. The right-shooting centerman has led the NHL in even-strength goals twice since the 2010-11 season. His 238 regular season goals since that same season lead all centers. Only Alex Ovechkin has more goals in the same time period. Stamkos is fourth overall in points-per-game (for skaters with more than 300 regular season games played) since the 2010-11 season with a 1.03 mark. Stamkos’ shooting percentage during the same period is 17.8%, which is second to only Alex Tanguay’s 17.9 percent.
22 C - John Tavares
John Tavares had the honor of being the first overall draft pick, one year after Steven Stamkos. It proved to be another smart selection. The New York Islanders’ pivot has the second-most goals of any center since the 2010-11 season, with 183. He is fourth overall in points during the same time frame with 417. While Tavares might not be the smoothest skater in the game today, he makes up for it with his tremendous hand/eye coordination and superb shot. He hasn’t had many opportunities to show his skill in the playoffs, but when he has received those opportunities, he has been strong. Tavares guided the Islanders out of the first round of the 2015-16 playoffs, the first time the team has advanced past round one in 23 seasons.
21 C - Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews may not have the statistical prowess of some of his counterparts at the center position, at least during the regular season, but he is a fierce competitor and leader, who steps it up when the games count the most. The third overall draft pick in 2006, Toews has played with the Chicago Blackhawks since the 2007-08 season, when he was 19. The defensive-minded center, who won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2013, can also produce on offense, having led the league in even-strength goals during the lockout shortened 2012-13 season.
You’ll find Toews near the top of the scoring list in the playoffs for the 2010s. He has 66 points in 85 playoff games since the 2010-11 season. That is the most of any center. The Blackhawks’ captain has led Chicago to three Stanley Cups in the decade: 2010, 2013 and 2015.
20 C - Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby is generally considered the best all-around hockey player in the world. There’s no way we could leave him off this list. Although he has been hampered by concussion injuries in recent years, Crosby has still been on the ice enough to qualify as one of the greatest players of the decade. In his 336 regular season games since the 2010-11 season, Sid leads all NHL skaters in points-per-game with a 1.29 mark. He hasn’t fared as well in the playoffs, but still ranks in the top five for the PPG category. Crosby can pass with the best in the game and score with the best in the game. In fact, he’d be the first player selected in a dream team draft. His all-around skill is beyond compare. Watching him weave passes across the ice is almost as fun as watching him pick open spots to tuck the puck into the net.
19 LW - Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin is simply the most prolific goal-scorer in the NHL today. The Washington Capitals’ winger has led the league in goals for four of the past six regular seasons. In a few of those seasons, it wasn’t even close. Ovechkin has 18 more goals than the next closest skater, Steven Stamkos, since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. His ability to quickly put the puck in the net, from just the right spot on the ice, has accumulated bunches of assists for his teammates over the years. Not only does he score in droves, but he plays a physical game as well. Ovie doesn’t shy away from driving opposing players into the boards.
18 LW - Jamie Benn
Jamie Benn doesn’t fit into the mold of Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. The Dallas Stars’ winger wasn’t selected until the 129th pick of the 2007 NHL draft. He turned out to be the Stars' biggest draft steal ever. After two seasons with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, Benn established himself as a rookie with Dallas in 2009-10, playing in all 82 regular season games and notching 41 points. His point totals, notwithstanding the lockout shortened season of 2012-13, have increased in each successive season. He was second overall in points for the 2015-16 season, coming in at more than a point-per-game. Since the beginning of 2010-11, the only left winger to have more points than Benn in the regular season is Alex Ovechkin.
17 LW - Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp is a playoff machine. He leads all left-wingers in playoff points since the start of the 2010-11 playoffs. He’s been pretty good during the regular season too. In 402 games, Sharp has picked up 336 points. The big forward, and former alternate captain for the Chicago Blackhawks, helped guide his team to three Stanley Cups. Sharp’s 0.84 points-per-game rank among the best in the league for left-wingers since the 2010-11 season. If we were picking just the top 20 players of the decade, Sharp might not be on the list. But when you’re talking about the best left-wingers since 2010-11, Sharp has to be mentioned.
16 LW - Milan Lucic
A somewhat polarizing player due to the physical nature of his play, the big Milan Lucic is nevertheless one of the best left-wingers in the game. Lucic is the power forward that your team needs to make sure it doesn’t get pushed around. A second-round draft pick by the Boston Bruins in 2006, Lucic broke into the NHL during the 2007-08 season and never looked back. In 2011, Lucic was a key factor in the Bruins hoisting the Stanley Cup.
During that postseason, Lucic notched 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in Boston’s 25 playoff games. We’d slot Lucic in on Crosby’s line to make sure the world’s best player was adequately protected.
15 RW - Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane just might be the most exciting player in the NHL today. He’s easily the most prolific right-winger in the game with respect to points, putting up 433 points in the regular season, since the start of the 2010-11 season. The next closest is Phil Kessel with 398. Kane is a pure playmaker, and another former number one overall draft pick on our list. He has helped the Chicago Blackhawks win three Stanley Cups since 2010. No NHL player has scored more points in the playoffs since 2011 than Patrick Kane. His 79 points are 13 more than the next closest player, teammate Jonathan Toews. Most recently, Kane led the NHL in points with 106 in 82 regular season games. Is Kane the best player on this list?
14 RW - Corey Perry
Some people affectionately call him “Scorey” Perry. Among right-wingers, Perry is certainly among the best goal scorers in the league. With 212 regular season goals since the start of the 2010-11 season, Perry is first on the list. His 393 overall points puts him third among right-wingers in the same time span. In 2010-11, Perry had what was his finest season, at least statistically, to-date. That season, Perry led the league in goals, even-strength goals, and game-winning goals. He would be rewarded with the Hart Memorial Trophy as the MVP. He has yet to earn a Stanley Cup ring in the 2010s, but he and fellow All-Star, center Ryan Getzlaf, are determined to do so.
13 RW - Marian Hossa
Marian Hossa is an excellent two-way winger whose value should not be underestimated. The former 12th overall draft pick in 1997 has spent 19 seasons in the NHL so far. Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Hossa is in the top ten among right-wingers for points during the regular season with 319. His value to his team can best be expressed by the often challenged on-ice rating. Hossa is a plus-102 on-ice since the start of the 2010-11 season. That is 26 more than the next closest right-winger, Justin Williams.
Whether you are a proponent of the stat or not, you can’t argue with the fact that his team has scored 102 more goals than their opponents while Hossa is on the ice. That has to tell you a bit about what he contributes at both ends of the rink.
12 RW - Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel’s statistics speak for themselves. Only Patrick Kane has put up more points than Kessel’s 398 as a right-winger since the start of the 2010-11 season. Only Corey Perry has scored more goals as a right-winger than Kessel’s 177 in the same time span. Kessel hasn’t had much chance to show his stuff in the playoffs, since the start of the decade, when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now suiting up for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kessel is contributing in the postseason, racking up the points. He may not have the best all-around game, but offensively he is certainly one of the best in the league.
11 D - Erik Karlsson
Karlsson is the premiere offensive-minded defenseman in the NHL today. He leads the NHL in points scored since 2010-11, far and away, with 359. The right-shooting defenseman who hails from Sweden has won the Norris Trophy twice in the past five seasons. In 2015-16, he averaged a point-per-game while leading the league with 66 assists. If there was one defenseman you would pick to quarterback your team in the offensive zone, Karlsson would be it. Karlsson leads all defensemen in points-per-game with 0.86 since the start of 2010-11. Not only does he excel at setting his teammates up to score, but he can also put the puck in the net himself. He has 95 regular season goals in the past six NHL seasons.
10 D - Kris Letang
Kris Letang has the advantage of playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but that shouldn’t be held against him when considering the best defenseman in the NHL. Only Erik Karlsson has a better PPG mark than Letang’s 0.79 since 2010-11. Letang is basically a fourth forward when on the ice, with the ability to backcheck and defend. He can skate like silk and is a threat to score whenever he has possession of the puck. The Montreal native is a critical part of the Pittsburgh Penguins offensive attack without whom Sidney Crosby would be less effective. Letang, although not a large defenseman per se, can also get physical and mix it up in front of the net when required.
9 D - Brent Burns
A converted winger, Brent Burns has really come into his own as a defenseman in the NHL. A big and athletic skater, Burns has had his two finest seasons, statistically, with the San Jose Sharks recently. 2015-16 saw him put up a hefty 27 goals from the point, while assisting on 48 more. That performance was good enough to get Burns nominated as one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy in 2016. Since the 2010-11 season started, Burns is third overall in points-scored by an NHL defenseman with 286, during the regular season. With Burns trending upward offensively over the past few seasons, he could soon wind up as the highest scoring defenseman in the league.
8 D - P.K. Subban
As one of the most exciting players to watch in the game of hockey today, P.K. Subban is also one of the best overall defensemen in the NHL today. The former second-round draft pick is a strong quarterback on the power play who racks up assists. Over the past six regular seasons, Subban is fifth overall among defensemen with 213 assists. He is second in the league in power play goals among defensemen during the same time period with 35, and ranks third in power play points with 126. Having won the Norris Trophy in 2013, Subban is now looking to win the ultimate team award in the Stanley Cup.
7 D - Shea Weber
Shea Weber is one of the most intimidating defensemen in the NHL today. As a big blueliner, he can strike fear into opposing teams through both his fierce physical play as well as his strong shot from the point. Although Weber has never taken home the Norris Trophy, in five separate occasions he has finished top five in the balloting. Over the past six regular seasons, only one defenseman has more goals than Shea Weber’s 102 (that would be Brent Burns, with 103.) Weber’s longevity with the Nashville Predators, having played more than 10 seasons with them at a high level, speaks to the consistent nature of Weber’s game.
6 D - Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty, the second overall draft pick in 2008, may not put up the statistics that some of his defensive counterparts accumulate, but he can certainly play the two-way game. The blueliner who hails from London, Ontario has helped guide his Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley Cups, so far. His contributions in the postseason demonstrate his overall value. Doughty’s performance at both ends of the ice can be shown by his plus-59 on-ice rating over the past six seasons. He is also a force when the Kings are on the power play, having racked up 27 power play goals since the start of the 2010-11 NHL season.
5 D - Duncan Keith
Duncan Keith’s name may not be at the tip of the tongue for the casual hockey fan when talking about the best defensemen in the NHL. Look at his statistics and accomplishments however, and you’ll find that he is well deserving of inclusion in the discussion for the best of the best. The former second-round draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002 has since won the Norris Trophy twice and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pretty impressive stuff there. During the regular season, Keith is top-10 in points and on-ice rating over the past six seasons. In the playoffs, over the same time period, Keith leads all defensemen in points, far and away, with 57.
4 D - Zdeno Chara
Based on his size and tenacity, Zdeno Chara is one of the most intimidating defenders in the NHL. With his super-long reach he is able to poke-check pucks away that other defensemen wouldn’t be able to get to. A two-way defender, with a strong presence in his team’s defensive zone, Chara leads all defensemen in on-ice rating with a plus-117 over the past six seasons. In the playoffs, following the 2010-11 regular season, Chara led all with a plus-16 on-ice rating, en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup. Although he hasn’t taken home the Norris Trophy since 2009, he has been in the top-five for votes, four times this decade.
3 G - Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick has been superb in both the regular season and the playoffs in net for the Los Angeles Kings since the start of the 2010-11 season. The appropriately named Quick is third overall in wins with 191, second in goals-against-average with a 2.17 mark, and tied for eighth overall with a .918 save percentage. In the playoffs, Quick is second in wins with 44. His playoff save percentage of .924 and GAA of 2.17 are both in the top ten. With his ability to make ridiculous saves, Quick is both fun to watch and a reliable protector of the net for Los Angeles. Proving he can step up in the playoffs when the games count the most, and with two Stanley Cup rings on his fingers, Quick just might be the first goaltender we’d choose in drafting our dream team.
2 G - Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, yet. He’s done just about everything else in the NHL though. Second in regular-season wins since the start of the 2010-11 season, with 197, Lundqvist has been a stalwart in net for the New York Rangers for the past several seasons. For goalies with at least 200 games-played in the past six NHL seasons, only Cory Schneider has a better save percentage than Lundqvist’s .923 mark. In the same time span, Lundqvist is third in the league with a 2.24 GAA. The former 205th overall draft pick in 2000 is also third in the league during the playoffs over the past six seasons with 41 wins. Since breaking into the NHL in 2005-06, Lundqvist has been top three in Vezina Trophy voting five times, and won the award in 2012.
1 G - Cory Schneider
Some people will question the pick of Cory Schneider as a goaltender for a dream team in the 2010s. Let’s look at the facts though. For goaltenders with 100 or more games played since the start of the 2010-11 NHL season, Schneider leads the league with a 2.13 goals-against-average. The next closest netminder is Jonathan Quick with a 2.17 mark. Schneider also leads the NHL with a .926 save percentage in that time frame. Having split the net in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo for a few years, and then sharing the net with Martin Brodeur in his first year with New Jersey, Schneider has really only been the clear number one netminder for the past two seasons. As he gets more time in net, his win number will go up, and he will get more recognition as one of the best goalies in the NHL.