Based on how tall our parents and grandparents are, it is easy to tell that human beings, on average, have gradually been getting taller with every passing generation, to the point that we are no longer that surprised to see someone who is taller than six feet. There are reasons behind the steady increase in our heights, reasons that can be linked to genetics, exercise, and even luck of the draw, but the primary reason, as many believe, is because of the hormones that can be found in our livestock; but whatever the reason may be, it is in fact happening, This steady increase in height affects everyone, no matter their background, nationality, gender, or profession, which is why we are starting to see an influx of tall individuals entering into the world of professional sports.
Whether it is professional baseball, football, hockey, or especially basketball, you will find many players now who are well over six feet tall, and who can be found playing very different positions. In the NHL, size has always been important, but now teams hardly draft anyone who is under five-and-a-half-feet tall, and that is because bigger/taller players take up more space on the ice, and are generally much more physical as a result, which usually helps to limit scoring chances by the opposition. Many of the NHL’s tallest players can be found on defence, but their are also forwards, and even goalies who measure well over six feet. So here is a list of top 15 tallest NHL players today.
15 Ryan Getzlaf - 6'4"
The Anaheim Ducks have been a Western Conference powerhouse for a decade now, and it is primarily due to the fact that they are a physical team who can put the puck in the net, a system which allowed them to win their first ever Stanley Cup in 2007. Centerman Ryan Getzlaf, who the team initially drafted in 2003. was a part of that championship winning team, and ever since 2007, he has gone on to not only become the Ducks’ captain, but their all around best player as well. In his now 11-year career, Getzlaf has scored almost 750 points in 787 games, which basically makes him a point-per-game player; and at 6 feet and 4 inches, he is the shortest of the tall players who will be appearing on this list.
14 Blake Wheeler - 6'5"
Blake Wheeler is currently a 9 year NHL veteran, who ultimately has the Arizona Coyotes to thank for his career, as they are the ones who drafted him in 2004. Arizona may have drafted him, but he never in fact played a single game with the Coyotes, as the two parties could not reach an agreement in regards to his contract, which allowed him to sign with the Boston Bruins in 2008. Wheeler ended up spending 3 seasons with the Bruins until they decided to trade him to the Winnipeg Jets franchise, who at the time were still known as the Atlanta Thrashers. When the team moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg Wheeler went along, and has played there for 5 seasons now. This past offseason, the Jets named Wheeler captain, and at 6 feet 5 inches, he is one of the tallest captains in the league.
13 Joe Colborne - 6'5"
He may not be a superstar player, but centerman Joe Colborne is very versatile, especially on the defensive end of the game; and if need be, he can also score somewhere between 10 and 20 goals for his team. He was first a member of the Bruins’ organization who drafted him in 2008, but before he could even play a game for Boston, they traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs where for 3 years he barely played. In 2013, Toronto decided to ship Colborne to the Calgary Flames, where for 3 seasons, he actually got the opportunity to play, and just last season he had a career year with 44 points. This offseason, the Flames could not reach an agreement with the 6-and-a-half-foot centerman regarding his contract, and as a result, Colborne went on to sign a 2-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche.
12 Dustin Byfuglien - 6'5"
The past decade has seen the Chicago Blackhawks become the NHL’s most successful franchise, as they have won 3 Stanley Cups since 2010, and Dustin Byfuglien who is 6 feet and 5 inches tall, was a big part of their first championship win in 2010. The Blackhawks were the ones who drafted Byfuglien in 2003, and even though his original position was on defence, Chicago converted him into a forward on the right wing. Following their 2010 Cup win, the Blackhawks needed to get rid of players because of cap issues, and Byfuglien was one of them, as they traded him to the Winnipeg Jets (then the Atlanta Thrashers); and he has remained with the team ever since. While in Winnipeg, he has returned to being a defenseman, a role he is quite good at as evidenced by the Jets who re-signed him to a 5 year extension prior to last year’s trade deadline.
11 Braydon Coburn- 6'5"
In 2003, the Atlanta Thrashers drafted Braydon Coburn, and even though Atlanta at the time was in desperate need of players, especially defensmen, they decided to only keep him around for less than 40 games before shipping him off to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007. Coburn, at 6-and-a-half-feet tall, was able to breakout with the Flyers, and for parts of the next 8 seasons, he served as one of their more effective defensemen. By the time the midpoint of the 2014-15 season came around, Philadelphia was well out of the playoff race, so they decided to trade away some players, including Coburn who they ultimately sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season was his first full year with the Lightning, and the team’s front office must have liked what they saw, seeing as this offseason they re-signed him for another 3 years.
10 Dougie Hamilton - 6'5"
When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded 2 first round picks to the Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel, neither team probably thought that those picks would turn out to have been Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. As it turns out though, Boston ultimately chose to not keep either player, and shipped Seguin to Dallas in 2013 and Hamilton to Calgary during last year’s offseason. Before he even played a game for them, the Flames signed Hamilton to a big 6-year contract extension, a contract that to some seemed too large considering he only had 3 seasons under his belt. In his first year with the Flames, Hamilton got off to a rocky start, but he eventually figured things out and went on to finish the season with a career high 43 points; and based on his performance, this young defenseman, measuring at 6 feet and 5 inches tall, will become the pillar of Calgary’s blue line.
9 Pekka Rinne- 6'5"
At the ninth spot on this list is our first goalie, Pekka Rinne, who is roughly 6-and-a-half-feet tall, which is quite something, considering the fact that an NHL net is only 4 feet high. Rinne is the number one goalie of the Nashville Predators, and they were incredibly lucky to be the team who grabbed him, as they drafted him in 2004 with the 258th overall pick. He may have been selected very late in his draft year, and only really got a chance to play during the 2008-09 season, but Rinne has managed to not only become one of the Western Conference’s best goalies, but one of the best in the entire league as well. Now it is true that being at least 2 feet taller than the net helps to keep pucks from getting through, but it is primarily his skill that allows him to make great saves; and besides, there are two other goalies who are even taller than he is.
8 Devan Dubnyk- 6'6"
Following Pekka Rinne, is our list’s second netminder, Devan Dubnyk, who comes in at 6 feet and 6 inches tall, but unlike Rinne, the course of Dubnyk’s career seems to reflect the fact that he does use utilize his height more when stopping pucks. Dubnyk’s career began in 2004 when he was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, who he ended up spending parts of 5 seasons with until 2014 when they traded him to Nashville. He ended up bouncing around a lot that year, as he was later traded to Montreal who allowed him to leave and sign with the Coyotes for one year. As it turned out, Dubnyk did not even finish the 2014-15 season with Arizona, as they traded him to the Minnesota Wild, where a switch seemed to turn on inside his head, because in the short time with the Wild, he statistically became one of the best goalies in the league to finish off the season. It was such a great performance, that the Wild rewarded him with a huge 6-year contract extension.
7 Nick Bjugstad - 6'6"
For years the Florida Panthers have found themselves at the bottom of the NHL’s standings, and although that meant they were able to secure high draft picks, their win/loss records failed to really improve. That trend seems to have come to an end however thanks to Dale Tallon (the general manager behind the Blackhawks’ success), who has managed to build the team through proper drafting. One of those draft picks is Nick Bjugstad, a centerman who he took at 19th overall, and who is 6 feet and 6 inches tall. Bjugstad made his NHL debut during the 2012-13 season, and has remained with the team since, where he has become one of the Panther’s top forwards, At only 24 years of age, he is already a great player, so great that he is currently only 2 years into 6-year 24.6 million dollar contract.
6 Victor Hedman - 6'6"
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been one of the top four teams in the NHL the past two seasons now, and for good reason, because they have very skilled and productive forwards, a good goalie, and some great defensemen. In 2009, Tampa Bay selected Victor Hedman with the second overall pick, and at 6 feet and 6 inches, he is both the Lightning's’ best and tallest blue liner. He went on to debut with the team the very same year he was drafted, where he put up some fairly decent numbers as a rookie NHL defenseman, but it was not until the 2013-14 season that Hedman truly came into his own to become an elite blue liner. Hedman has become so integral to the team, that the organization went all out and locked him up with an 8-year contract that will see him earn just over 7 million a year.
5 Jamie Oleksiak - 6'7"
With a potent offence that has the ability to score up to 5 goals a game, a defense that can stand up against the top lines of every team, and a proven Stanley Cup winning goalie, it should come as no surprise that the Dallas Stars have become a truly scary and competitive team. In order to win championships though, teams need to have just the right amount of depth players who can both defend and score the odd goal here and there, and that is the kind of player that Jamie Oleksiak is. The Stars drafted Oleksiak 14th overall in 2011, and since then, the defenseman, who comes in at 6 feet and 7 inches tall, has split his time between the main roster and their minor league affiliate. The reason behind this is not because he is a bad player, but simply because Dallas has so much depth.
4 Ben Bishop - 6'7"
At the number four spot, we revisit the net for a final time with Ben Bishop, who at 6 feet and 7 inches, is the tallest goalie in the entire NHL. Bishop’s career has so far become a great story, because after he made his debut with the St. Louis Blues in 2011, no one really expected him to ever become a team’s number one goalie; and to be fair, his numbers at the beginning of his career were not starting goalie material. Bishop would end up moving from St. Louis to play for the Ottawa Senators, who kept him until midway through the 2012-13 season when they traded him to Tampa Bay. The trade, as it turns out, was the best thing that could have ever happened to Bishop, because for the past 3 seasons, he has undeniably been one of the NHL’s best starting goalies.
3 Brian Boyle - 6'7"
Coming into the new NHL season, Brian Boyle will be a 10 year veteran who has twice come close to winning a Stanley Cup, and who is hoping that this year he can finally win one with his Lightning teammates. Boyle was drafted in 2003 by the Los Angeles Kings, who he ultimately spent parts of 2 seasons with before being traded to the New York Rangers in 2009. Needless to say, Boyle became a much more impactful player after joining the Rangers, as he became one of their more important forwards, who helped to lead the team to the Cup Final in 2014. After five years in New York, he decided to sign as a free agent with Tampa Bay, where he continues to be an effective centerman; and at 6 feet and 7 inches, he is the tallest centerman in the league.
2 Tyler Myers - 6'8"
In 2008, the Buffalo Sabres were in desperate need of good young players, especially on defence, which is why in that year’s draft, they selected Tyler Myers 12th overall. Myers went on to make his NHL debut the following season, a move that some insiders thought the Sabres were doing too soon because of the fact that the then rookie was not big enough to be a full-time NHL defenceman yet. It turned out that those insiders were right, as it was not until the 2013-14 season that he finally became competent on the blue line. The team may have signed him to a 7-year contract in 2011, but Myers’ tenure with the Sabres ended during the 2014-15 season when they traded him to the Winnipeg Jets, where he continues to play today. At 6 feet and 8 inches, Tyler Myers is very tall, but he is still only the league’s second tallest player.
1 Zdeno Chara - 6'9"
At the number one spot on this list is the Czechoslovakian captain of the Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara, who at 6 feet and 9 inches, is both the NHL’s tallest defenseman and player. Chara was drafted in 1996 by the New York Islanders, who he ultimately played 4 seasons with until he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2001. While with Ottawa, he began to be known around the league as a very physical and intimidating force on the ice, which is why the Boston Bruins signed him in 2006 as soon as he became a free agent. Chara has now spent the last 10 seasons with the Bruins, and currently serves as their captain, but age has started to rear its ugly head towards him the past few seasons. The Bruins’ captain may be getting old in the tooth, but at least he led his team to a championship in 2011.
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