Imagine if every NHL player in history, played for their hometown Teams. Who would have the best team? Who would win? Which town in the world produces the best hockey talent? I know what your thinking. "Some city in Canada would by far have the best team". You might be right. But you might also be surprised to see where some of the best NHL players, currently playing in the NHL, are from. It might also surprise you to see which town/city would have the best team.
Would the Maple Leafs still be in a rebuild? ...Probably not.
Would L.A. be the dynasty team it is today? ...Probably not.
Would Detroit consistently make the playoffs? ...Probably.
Most towns and cities who have produced some of the greatest players in the NHL, could benefit from the help of some home grown talent. Teams like Toronto, Buffalo, Edmonton and Montreal all had forgettable seasons this past year. But, these cities have produced some of the top hockey players in history. Just to name a few, Dale Hawerchuck, Keith Primeau, Patrick Kane, Mark Messier and Mario Lemieux. However, teams like Florida, Tampa, Arizona, LA and San Jose would not even be able to produce a team at all. There are such few players from those cities and their surrounding areas, that they would not be able to field a full squad. Arizona is only going to have their first real hockey star in Auston Matthews and it would probably take another 50 years for Arizona to ice a decent hometown lineup.
If you've ever pondered this situation, wonder no more. Inspired by this hypothetical situation, here are the Top 15 NHL Teams If Players Played For Their Hometown Team.
15 New Jersey Devils
Starting lineup: Bobby Ryan, Randy Wood, James Van Riemsdyk, Paul Mara, David Williams
Although New Jersey only has 15 players who have ever played in the NHL, the list of players coming from the Garden State are impressive. Players like Bobby Ryan, James and Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Randy Wood, Johnny Gaudreau, Drew Miller, T.J. Brennan and Paul Mara. Bobby Ryan is a multiple 20-plus goal scorer and Gaudreau finished 6th in points this past season. The state is starting to get some talent but they still are far off from other teams on this list.
The state of New Jersey would also have, young up and coming players like Kenny Augustino and Buddy Robinson. The Devils would be able to field a solid hockey team. They would just need some help filling a few roster spots from neighboring areas, including their net. You would likely have to fill that spot with a minor league hockey player or heavily scout the New Jersey area for someone to play between the pipes.
14 New York Rangers/Islanders
Starting Lineup: Joe Mullen, Brian Mullen, Dustin Brown, Mathieu Schneider, Rob Scuderi, Jimmy Howard
We really can't divide up the New York City area talent between the area's two teams, so New York only gets one team here. Players from the New York City area have had quite an impact on the NHL. The Rangers and/or Islanders would be able to ice quite a team in our hypothetical circumstance.
Leading the way for the homegrown team would be Joe Mullen, Mathieu Schneider, Brian Mullen and Dustin Brown. If we were to include some players from just outside New York City, the list could grow a little longer. Between the players mentioned, there are more than 4 Stanley Cups won. Following a long with those players would be some current NHL players including, Rob Scuderi, Chris Higgins and Ryan Callahan. In net, Detroit's Jimmy Howard would provide a big presence in the crease. presence big enough for a Stanley Cup? Perhaps. Fair enough to say, New York would be a playoff contender.
13 Chicago Blackhawks
Starting Lineup: Ed Olczyk, Tom Fergus, Tony Granato, Chris Chelios, Joe Corvo, Al Montoya
Chicago has produced probably one of, if not, the greatest defensemen of all time, Chris Chelios, who did play for his hometown team. Chelios was the captain of his hometown Blackhawks and looking at this lineup, he would undoubtedly be the captain for the again. In fact, the team would be heavily reliant on him.
Other players from the Windy City include, Ed Olczyk, Tom Fergus and goaltender Al Montoya. Chicago would have just enough players to ice a starting lineup in the NHL, but the quality of the team would not be top notch. This team would probably be bottom of the barrel. Even with players like Chelios and Olczyk, and Montoya in net, the rest of the roster would be filled with less than average players. They would definitely struggle.
12 Pittsburgh Penguins
Starting Lineup: R.J. Umberger, Brandon Saad, Vincent Troechek, Matt Bartkowski, Mike Weber, John Gibson
The Pittsburgh area has produced some very good hockey players, more recently than ever before. In fact, 6 of 14 players from the Burgh to ever play in the NHL, are currently playing right now. These players include, John Gibson, R.J. Umberger, Brandon Saad, Vincent Trocheck and Mat Bartkowski. Other players from the Pittsburgh area include, Ryan Malone, Mike Weber, and the up and coming prospect Henrik Samuelsson. Pittsburgh would barley be able to field a full team and would need help filling out some roster spots, from players born in neighboring areas. They need serious help on the back end here, but with an emergence of hockey in Pittsburgh, perhaps they could move up the list in future years.
The Penguins would be a solid team nonetheless and would probably compete for a playoff spot every season.
11 Ottawa Senators
Starting Lineup: Mike Gartner, Rob Brind'Amour, Marc Savard, Denis Potvin, Doug Wilson, John Davidson
Ottawa has an impressive list of homegrown talent, including Rod Brind'Amour, Mike Gartner, Denis Potvin, Marc Savard and Dan Boyle. Between the two of them, Brind'Amour and Gartner have scored just over 2,500 points in just over 2,900 NHL games. Quite an impressive feat. However, this teams strength would lie in defence, with players like Denis Potvin, Dan Boyle, Doug Wilson and Jeff Browne.
Ottawa would definitely be a consistent playoff team. The Ottawa are shared a boader with western Quebec, so depending on where those Quebecois' loyalties would lie, Ottawa could yet ice some more quality players. Either way, the Senators have a very impressive team in this alternate universe.
10 Calgary Flames
Starting Lineup: Taylor Hall, Gary Unger, Troy Murray, Mike Green, Brayden Coburn, Mike Vernon
Calgary has a wealth of quality local born players to choose from. (as does most Canadian cities) Calgary would have a balanced team up front, on defence and in net. Their forwards would be lead by, Taylor Hall, Troy Murray, Pat Hughes, Mason Raymond, and Patrick Eaves. On defence they would boast, Mike Green, Brent Sopel, and Brayden Coburn. In net, legendary goaltender Mike Vernon would start and hold the fort down for the Flames, with Chad Johnson as a back up.
It's quite ironic that Calgary's star forward would be someone that Flames fans are currently programmed to despise, as Taylor Hall has been a star for the rival Oilers since entering the league. If you think that's weird, wait until you see which Flames legend would end up playing for Edmonton in this fantasy league.
From an overall perspective, this team would be a solid NHL squad on paper.
9 Buffalo Sabres
Starting Lineup: Patrick Kane, Nick Foligno, Todd Marchant, Aaron Miller, Jack Brownschidle, Phillipe Sauve
There are just enough players from Buffalo who have played in the NHL, to allow the Sabres to scrap together a full team. Despite the small market, they'd arguably ice a better team than the New York Rangers/Islanders area would. The strengths of the team would lie up front with players like, Patrick Kane, Nick Foligno, Marcus Foligno, and Todd Marchant. The rest of the roster would fill out with players like Aaron Miller, Mike Lalor and Patrick Kaleta. Between the pipes would be Phillipe Sauve, who played 32 career games in the NHL.
This team would most likely be a middle of the pack squad, fighting for a playoff spot each season. Patrick Kane is undoubtedly head and shoulders above his teammates in this scenario. What this team lacks in defensive and goaltending strengths, it makes up for in offensive power.
8 Winnipeg Jets
Starting Lineup: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Alex Steen, Duncan Keith, James Patrick, Terry Sawchuck
Jets fans briefly rejoiced when they were re-rewarded with an NHL franchise, but that joy slowly diminished as the team failed to meet expectations season after season. However, Winnipeg has produced some great hockey players, including some of the best in the NHL today. If the Jets built an all time team on local talent, the roster would be filled with the likes of, Andy Bathgate, Mike Ridley, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Alex Steen and Duncan Keith.
The Jets would become a far better team and most likely a team which consistently makes the playoffs. The roster would fill out with players like, Travis Zajac, Daren Helm, Cody Eakin, Mark Stone, and Gary Ledyard. Not to mention, in net the Jets would have perhaps the greatest goaltender in NHL history, Terry Sawchuck.
It also helps that this team has a proven chemistry, with Toews, Sharp and Keith.
7 Boston Bruins
Starting Lineup: Jack Eichel, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, Keith Yandle, Ryan Whitney, Tom Barrasso
Boston could field, perhaps one of, if not the best team in NHL history. The city of Boston and surrounding areas have produced some of the greatest hockey talent in the past 30 years. These players include, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, Tony Amonte, Bill Guerin, Keith Yandle, Ryan Whitney, and Tom Barrasso. With a core group like that and Tom Barrasso in net, this team would be a cup competitor for sure.
As well as these past, some current NHLers would be on this roster include, John Carlson, Brian Boyle and Chris Krieder. Let's not forget that Jack Eichel is from North Chelmsford, a mere 45-minute drive from Boston, which is good enough to slot him in as the Bruins' no.1 center. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have Corey Schneider as a back up.
6 Edmonton Oilers
Starting Lineup: Mark Messier, Johnny Bucyk, Jarome Iginla, Darryl Sydor, Scott Niedermayer, Kelly Hrudey
Oilers fans have suffered in the past decade. They witnessed their team make it to the Stanley Cup Final 10 years ago and lose, then watch the team try and pick up the pieces in a rebuild which has been going on ever since. If the Oilers were to ice a team of homegrown talent, things would maybe be a little different, maybe. The Oilers roster would be filled with players like Mark Messier, Johnny Bucyk, Jarome Iginla, Scott Niedermayer and Darryl Sydor. They'd also be able to ice a good second pairing, with Jay Bouwmeester and Dave Babych.
It's safe to say things would not only improve in Edmonton, but the team would be a consistent playoff team and a consistent cup contender. Filling out the roster would be players like Dion Phanuef, Andrew Ference, Tyler Ennis, Brendan Gallagher and Johnny Boychuck. In-between the pipes would be would Kelly Hrudey, who in his career played more than 650 NHL games.
5 Minnesota Wild
Starting Lineup: Neal Broten, Dave Christian, Jamie Langenbrunner, Phil Housley, Reed Larson, Bob Mason
The hockey state is hockey crazy and if the Wild could fill out a homegrown roster, it would be quite a team. After all, when you call yourself the state of hockey, you'd better be able to ice a great American team. If this fantasy league were divided up into American and Canadian conferences, the Wild would practically make the Stanley Cup Final every year. Leading the team would be the great Phil Housley, followed by Dave Christian, Neal Broten, Reed Larson and Jamie Langenbrunner. Other players who would be joining the previously mentioned, David Backes, Zach Parise, Matt Cullen, Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien, Alex Goligosky and Matt Niskanen.
There are far too many quality players from the hockey state to name. The Wild would be able to field a very good hockey team and would most likely be a consistent playoff contender. Their only weakness would be in goal, as Bob Mason is the starting goalie for this Wild team.
4 Detroit Red Wings
Starting Lineup: Mike Modano, Doug Weight, Brian Rolston, Kevin Hatcher, Brian Rafalski, Ryan Miller
The Detroit area has birthed a handful of greatest NHL players to ever grace the ice. If the Red Wings were to put together a homegrown team to compete in the NHL, they would become an even greater dynasty than they already are as an organization. (Is that even possible?) There are just too many players to name which are bonafide superstars or high quality NHL players. Players like Mike Modano, Doug Weight, Ryan Kesler, and Brian Rolston would lead the team up front. Then on defence, Mark Howe, Kevin Hatcher, Brian Rafalski, and Al Iafrate would hold the fort down. In net, Ryan Miller, possibly one of the best goaltenders to play in the NHL in the past 10 years. This team would be a cup contender year after year and would likely rack up a lot of rings.
3 Vancouver Canucks
Starting Lineup: Steve Yzerman, Glenn Anderson, Paul Kariya, Shea Weber, Doug Bodger, Carey Price
Van City has seen its ups and downs in the past 10 seasons. Starting with Canucks in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, to finishing in the bottom half of the NHL standings last season and not making the playoffs. The Canucks would benefit from homegrown talent immensely as their city has produced many great hockey players. They are fortunate enough to be the only team in British Columbia, a province packed with NHL talent. This allows the Canucks to stack their roster in this fantasy league.
Leading the way up front would be, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Glenn Anderson, Paul Kariya, Peter McNab, Milan Lucic, Evander Kane and Ryan Johansen. On defence, Shea Weber, Barry Beck, Doug Bodger, Steve Montador, and Tim Bothwell would bolster the team. In net, Carey Price would get the starting job. Price has won every major honor except for a Stanley Cup, he is one of, if not the best goaltender in the NHL today.
2 Toronto Maple Leafs
Starting Lineup: Dale Hawerchuck, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, P.K. Subban, Brad Park, George Hainsworth
If this list included all of Ontario, or even cities just outside of Toronto, the Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup every single season. The homegrown talent in southeastern Ontario is outstanding and incomprehensible. However, because Toronto has an abundance of homegrown talent playing in the NHL, they do not need help from surrounding cities. This team will be comprised of players strictly from the city of Toronto of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). The team would still be incredible and be at the top of the league every season. There are so many great players from the GTA, but this team would be composed of the best of the best. Up front the team would be led by, Dale Hawerchuck, Rick Middleton, Keith Primeau, Tyler Seguin, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Peter Zezel.
On defence, P.K. Subban, Mark Giordano, Adam Foote, Jason Woolley, and Brad Park, would hold down the blue line. In net the Leafs would have George Hainsworth who played over 450+ games in the NHL. Its fair to say the Leafs would be a cup contender every season.
1 Montreal Canadiens
Starting Lineup: Mario Lemieux, Luc Robitaille, Mike Bossy, Ray Bourque, Doug Harvey, Martin Brodeur
Last season the Canadiens gave a poor performance. Finishing in the bottom half of the NHL standings and not making the playoffs. They could use some help from the locally grown talent which the city of Montreal has produced. Much like the Maple Leafs team, we could have included all of Quebec, but Montreal has enough talent in the greater Montreal area to ice the best hometown team in NHL history. The Canadiens would be a consistent top three team and cup contender every season in the NHL, using local talent. The players on their roster would include, Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque, Luc Robitaille, Vincent Damphousse, Mike Bossy, and Maurice Richard. The list of high quality players from the Montreal area, is endless and the talent is exceptional.
Other players like Doug Harvey, Kris Letang, Mike Ribeiro, Henri Richard, Rod Gilbert, and Bernie Geoffrion would also be on the roster. The quality of this team would be top notch consistently, every season. It also doesn't hurt to have Martin Brodeur as the starting goalie, and Roberto Luongo as the back up.