It has been a great decade of hockey with a couple of mini-dynasties (Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings) and some of the best players the NHL has ever seen (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin) making their mark on the league. We take a look back at the NHL's All-Decade team from the 2010s, with 15 forwards, nine defenders and three goalies. We are only considering what players have done from 2010 onward to be a part of this group.
It was a truly dominant decade for Crosby, as he added two more Stanley Cups and two Conn Smythes to his trophy case as well as another scoring title and MVP Award. The crazy thing is he could have added several more of each had it not been for injuries in the first part of the decade. He was limited to just 99 of a possible 212 regular-season games between the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons due to injuries, all seasons in the prime of his career. No one was close to him offensively at that point and for as great as he has been (and still is), it still seems like we did not fully get to see him at his absolute best.
How dominant has Alex Ovechkin been over the past decade? His 400 goals (as of Nov. 5) since the start of the 2010-11 season are 76 more than the next closest player (Steven Stamkos with 324). No other player in the league scored more than 298 during that stretch. He finished as the league's leading goal scorer in six seasons. Simply the greatest goal scorer who has ever played in the NHL.
He's the only goal scorer of the era who could consistently compete with Ovechkin on a yearly basis. There is a huge gap between Ovechkin and Stamkos in the raw number of goals, but you have to also take into account the number of games that Stamkos missed. His 0.54 goals per game mark between 2010-11 now is just barely behind Ovechkin's mark of 0.57. That difference is just two goals per year on average. The only thing Stamkos' career is missing is that Stanley Cup.
He is in only his fifth season and did not enter the league until halfway through the decade, but how can you not include him? He is a 100-point scorer every year and would probably be the league MVP every year if he played on a better team with a better supporting cast, and he is the single most dominant all-around offensive player in the league. He is on track to be one of the NHL's all-time greats.
When you think of the Kings' Stanley Cup teams in 2012 and 2014, your mind probably immediately goes to Jonathan Quick and their overall defensive play. But make no mistake: Kopitar was the player driving the bus for those teams. He may have slowed down a bit the past couple of years, but when he was at his peak he did everything Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron did as two-way players — only better.
Bergeron's offensive numbers will never jump off the page, but he is still an incredibly talented player who makes everyone around him better. He is also one of the best shutdown defensive forwards of his era. Put those two things together, and you have one of the best two-way players in the league and one who has been the focal point of a consistent Stanley Cup contender.
The other half of Pittsburgh's dominant center duo, Malkin may not be "the best" player of the decade, but he has moments where he can certainly look like it when he is playing at his highest level. Like Crosby and Stamkos, what slowed down his production over the past decade were injuries. He played more than 75 games just once since the start of the 2010-11 season, missed nearly 200 regular season games over that stretch and is still one of the most productive players in the league.
Not sure the hockey world as a whole realizes just how good Giroux has been throughout his career and the level of production he has reached. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, only three players in the entire league have more points than him. The consistent mediocrity around him in Philadelphia has made it easy to overlook, but he has been one of the best players in the league.
For most of his career Backstrom was always called the most underrated player in the league. He carried that title for so long that it almost became laughable to keep referring to him as "underrated" because everybody clearly knew how good he was (and still is). He is probably the best playmaker of his era and a cornerstone piece to one of the best teams of the decade.
Strictly from an offensive standpoint there have been only a small handful of players more productive than Kane over the past decade, and he carried that play over to the playoffs where he helped the Blackhawks win a few Stanley Cups between 2010 and 2015.
Toews is a tricky one for me because he actually become really overrated during the Blackhawks' dynasty run between 2010 and 2015. He was always one of the top players in the league, but there came a two- or three-year stretch where there was a push to proclaim him as the best player in the world and — well — he was just never that good. But calling someone overrated does not mean they are bad, and when Toews was at his peak he was a world-class, two-way player who provided really good offense, great defense and was a key piece to a mini-dynasty.
This might be an off -the-board pick for some hockey fans, but if you cannot appreciate the player Marchand has been and has become, you are simply not paying enough attention. He is one of the top offensive players in the league, is outstanding defensively and helps carry the play in all situations. Players and fans outside of Boston will hate him because of his antics and borderline dirty play (and none of it is necessary, by the way), but every single one of them would take him on their teams and top lines.
The criticism of Tavares will be that he really hasn't won anything, playing on just four playoff teams and going beyond the first round just once in his career. But you can't possibly look at the teams he played on, combined with his body of work, and conclude that he was the problem. Even though he crushed Islanders fans by leaving in free agency, he helped bring the team back to relevance and respectability and now has the difficult task of trying to satisfy the thunderdome that is Toronto hockey and try to bring the Stanley Cup back to that city. If he does, he will be a legend in Toronto.
He was a lightning rod for criticism in Toronto because he had the unfortunate role of being the best player on a bad team, and when things went wrong it was his fault. But as he showed in Pittsburgh, if you put talent around him he can shine on the league's biggest stage. Kessel is an elite goal scorer, outstanding playmaker and one of the best playoff performers of the decade who probably should have won the 2016 Conn Smythe Award.
Kucherov did not make his NHL debut until midway through the decade but he has rocketed to the top of the league as one of the most dynamic offensive players going. He really started to come into his own during the team's run to the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Final and then blossomed into an MVP player in the year's since. His 2018-19 performance was one of the most dominant individual offensive seasons the league has seen in decades.
At his best there was a strong argument to be made that he was one of the three best players in the entire league, right up there with Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. He has won two Norris Trophies, has been a runner-up twice (probably should have won both) and almost single-handedly carried the 2016-17 Ottawa Senators to within one game (a double overtime loss on the road to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins) of the Stanley Cup Final — and he did that while basically playing on one foot. The most impactful defenseman since Bobby Orr.
The Nicklas Lidstrom of his era. Hedman is as complete, well-rounded and solid as any defender in the league with the ability to beat you offensively, shut you down defensively and control the pace of the play all over the ice. He was one of the most anticipated defense prospects in years when he entered the league and has not only met every expectation placed on him but has also exceeded them.
He will never get as many headlines or as much recognition as the superstar forwards on those championship Blackhawks teams, but Keith has put together a Hall of Fame resume and was a rock on that blue line. He is one of just five defenders in NHL history with two Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy on their resumes. Keith, Nicklas Lidstrom and Bobby Orr are the only defenders with two Norris, a Conn Smythe and three Stanley Cup rings.
Doughty's performance has rapidly declined the past two years, but before that the argument regarding the NHL's best defenseman was centered around him and Erik Karlsson for years. Doughty never put up the type of offensive numbers Karlsson did (they were still great), but he was arguably the best defensive defenseman in the league.
He is still somehow playing top-line minutes for the Bruins, even at the age of 42. Is he as good as he was? Of course not. But go back to the first half of the decade, and Chara was an absolute force on the Bruins' blue line. When they put him and Patrice Bergeron on the ice together — combined with the great goal tending of either Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask — there was not a more difficult team in the NHL to score a goal against.
Subban has always brought excitement to his teams and the NHL as a whole — excitement on the ice with his style of play, excitement off the ice with his personality and charitable contributions to his community. He is also a heck of a player with a Norris Trophy and two other years as a finalist.
Critics of Burns will argue his actual defensive zone play is a liability, but that is really overstating things. He may not be at the level of an in-his-prime Zdeno Chara, but he isn't a problem back there and his offense is, well, on a level all its own. He scores like a top-line forward and can change a game with the puck on his stick.
His contract is probably going to turn into a liability for the Canadiens in future years, and he is starting to break down a little physically, but when he is healthy he can still be a great player. And when he was at his peak in Nashville, he was as good as any other defender in the league with an imposing physical side, an overpowering slap shot and shockingly good mobility for a player his size.
When Letang is healthy there are few players in the league who can control a game the way he does. A breathtaking skater, a relentless offensive player and a better defensive player than his critics think he is, Letang is right there with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as cornerstone pieces for a Penguins organization that has been one of the league's best over the past decade.
Lundqvist has spent his entire career masking all of the Rangers' flaws on defense and carrying them to levels they probably otherwise would have never reached. He will probably always have that "yeah, but.." to his career when it comes to never winning a Stanley Cup, but there is only so much one player can do when it comes to winning a championship. Without Lundqvist, the Rangers probably never get as close to a Stanley Cup as they did during his prime years.
There was a time not that long ago that Price was the most impactful player in the league when it came to the success or failure of a team. Between 2013 and 2017, he was as good as any goalie in recent NHL history and single-handedly dragged some of those Canadiens teams to the playoffs. His 2014-15 performance was one of the best single seasons by a goalie ever, leading the league in save percentage and winning the Vezina, MVP, Jennings (fewest goals allowed), and Ted Lindsay Award (best player as voted by players).
Of all the players who have been a part of the Capitals' core, Holtby probably deserved that 2018 Stanley Cup ring as much as any of them. For years he was the biggest tough-luck loser the playoffs have ever seen, consistently posting some of the best postseason goal tending numbers in the history of the league only to simply lose out to some bad luck or a goalie who got white hot at the other end of the ice. His regular-season and postseason numbers stack up favorably with any goalie in his era, and he has the individual (Vezina, Jennings) and team (Stanley Cup) hardware to put him at the top. He has a .930 save percentage in the playoffs and has played at his best when the Capitals have needed him most.
You'll receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams.
Emailed daily. Always FREE!