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A look at the best America has to offer on ice

Monday, 12.12.2011 / 2:06 PM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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A look at the best America has to offer on ice
Three members of the historic 1996 U.S. World Cup championship team will be among those honored when the United States Hockey Hall of Fame inducts the Class of 2011 Monday in Chicago.
 
Joining Gary Suter, Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk in this year's class are Flyers founding owner Ed Snider and long-time hockey broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick.
 
However, it's the three players that were part of one of the greatest generations of U.S. hockey that draw the most attention.
 
With those players in mind, NHL.com decided to fill out its own roster of the greatest U.S. players ever. There certainly were some quality names omitted, but any hockey fan would have to feel pretty comfortable going into any tournament with these players available.
 
Take a look at our list and see if you agree.
 
RIGHT WINGS

Brett Hull (Photo: Getty Images)
1. Brett Hull -- He was born in Belleville, Ont., but represented the U.S. at a pair of Olympics, as well other international events, which is good enough for us. Third on the all-time NHL scoring list with 741 goals, his 86 goals in 1990-91 are the most in a season by someone not named Gretzky. He led the 1996 U.S. World Cup team with 7 goals and 11 points en route to a gold medal.
 
2. Joe Mullen -- The first U.S.-born player to score 500 goals, Mullen recorded 1,063 points in 1,062 games. He won three Stanley Cups in a four-season span -- with the 1989 Calgary Flames and 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins. The New York City native led the U.S. in scoring as a college senior at the 1979 World Championships, and played for the U.S. at three Canada Cups.
 
3. Tony Amonte -- The Boston native is one of the greatest skaters the U.S. ever has produced. An eight-time 30-goal scorer and three-time 40-goal scorer, he won gold with the 1996 U.S. World Cup team and silver at the 2002 Olympics.
 
4. Mike Knuble -- A late-bloomer, Knuble has ridden shotgun alongside some of the best forwards of the last 15 years -- Joe Thornton in Boston, Peter Forsberg in Philadelphia and for a time in Washington, he played on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Born in Toronto but raised across the river in Michigan, Knuble has a string of eight-straight 20-goal seasons going, thanks mostly to his ability to stand in the crease, take punishment and score goals.
 
CENTERS

1. Mike Modano -- When Modano retired this summer, the native of Livonia, Mich., left the NHL as the all-time leader in goals, assists and points among U.S.-born players, and second only to Chris Chelios in games played. He's also been a star for U.S. teams going back to his appearance at the 1988 World Junior Championship at age 17. A three-time Olympian, he won a silver medal in 2002 and led all players with 6 assists. He also won gold at the 1996 World Cup.
 
2. Pat LaFontaine -- The third pick of the 1983 Entry Draft, the St. Louis native was a dynamic scorer almost from the moment he hit the ice in the NHL, scoring 19 points in 15 games with the Isles during the 1983-84 season. He led the U.S. in scoring at the 1984 Olympics and won gold with the 1996 World Cup team. His career was ended prematurely due to injuries, but still managed 1,013 points in 865 games, and earned a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 
Jeremy Roenick (Photo: Getty Images)
3. Jeremy Roenick -- The Boston native was an offensive dynamo. He had back-to-back 50-goal seasons in 1991-92 and 1992-93, and led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final in 1992. He's the only player in Chicago team history with multiple 50-goal, 100-point seasons. He's one of four U.S.-born players with 500 goals and 1,000 points, and brought the same passion from his NHL time to international play. A two-time U.S. Olympian, he won the silver medal at the 2002 Games.
 
4. Neal Broten -- Most remember Broten from his time with the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, when he had 3 points in seven games to help the U.S. win gold. Broten also scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal with the 1995 New Jersey Devils, and had 923 points in 1,099 NHL games. He was a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Minnesota, won a Hobey Baker trophy and played for the U.S. at a pair of Canada Cups and a World Championship.
 
5. Chris Drury -- The native of Trumbull, Conn., became an American sports icon before he became a teenager, winning the Little League World Series in 1989. But the Wayne Gretzky posters on his wall foretold his future, and Drury had an exemplary NHL career. He's the only player in League history to win a Hobey Baker and Calder Trophy, and he won an NCAA title (Boston University) a Stanley Cup (2001 Avalanche) and two Olympic silver medals (2002, 2010).
 
LEFT WINGS

1. Keith Tkachuk -- The native of Melrose, Mass., ranks behind only Modano for most goals among U.S.-born players (538). He was among the most dominant power forwards of his era, and led the League with 52 goals in 1996-97. He also played in four Olympics, winning a silver medal in 1992, and was a major reason the U.S. won the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup.
 
John LeClair (Photo: Getty Images)
2. John LeClair -- His trade to Philadelphia in 1995, where he joined Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg to form the "Legion of Doom" line, was the spark that started him on the way to becoming one of the best power forwards of the late 1990s. The native of St. Albans, Vt., LeClair is one of 14 players in NHL history -- and the only one born in the U.S. -- to score at least 50 goals in three straight seasons. His 6 goals and 10 points at the 1996 World Cup were second on the team, and he led the 2002 Olympics with 6 goals en route to helping the U.S. win the silver medal.
 
3. Kevin Stevens -- A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins, Stevens was the power forward tasked with clearing space for Mario Lemieux. Stevens had a pair of 50-goal, 100-point seasons, and two other seasons with 40 goals. He played for the U.S. at three World Championships and the 1988 Olympics. He finished his 15-season NHL career with 726 points in 874 games.
 
4. Zach Parise -- One of the cornerstones of the next generation of American hockey players. The New Jersey Devils forward had a streak of four-straight 30-goal seasons interrupted by a major knee injury last season, but he's fully recovered now. He's already a star for Team USA, with gold medals at the World Under-18 Championship and World Junior Championship, and his goal with 24 seconds left against Canada in the gold-medal game at the 2010 Olympics forced overtime.
 
DEFENSEMEN
 
1. Phil Housley -- No U.S.-born blueliner has more goals, assists or points than Housley, a native of St. Paul, Minn. He stepped into the League at 18 after the Buffalo Sabres drafted him with the sixth pick of the 1982 Entry Draft, and had 31 goals in his second season. He strung together a six-season run with at least 20 goals, and his 338 goals are fourth all-time among NHL defensemen. He won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics at age 38, when he led all U.S. defensemen with 5 points in six games.
 
Brian Leetch (Photo: Getty Images)
2. Brian Leetch -- The first U.S.-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, he led the League in playoff scoring in 1994 with 34 points in 23 games en route to helping the Rangers end their 54-year Stanley Cup drought. Leetch, who was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but raised in Connecticut, won the 1989 Calder Trophy and never stopped playing at an elite level. He's one of only five defensemen in NHL history to post a 100-point season (102 points in 1991-92), and he captained the 1996 World Cup team. He played in three Olympics, winning a silver medal in 2002.
 
3. Derian Hatcher -- One of the most physically imposing blueliners of his era, Hatcher is the only U.S.-born player to captain a team to the Stanley Cup, leading the Dallas Stars in 1999. A native of Sterling Heights, Mich., Hatcher had 1,581 penalty minutes in 1,045 NHL games, but had an offensive side to his game. He had five 30-point seasons, and 5 points in six games with the 1996 World Cup team. He also played in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics, and captained the U.S. at the 2002 World Championship.
 
4. Chris Chelios -- Only four other players in NHL history -- none of them defensemen -- played more games than Chelios' 1,651, spread across 26 seasons. The Chicago native played in four Olympics, serving as team captain three times, including 2002, when the U.S. won the silver medal. A three-time Stanley Cup champion, Chelios' fitness regimen was the stuff of legends. He played his last NHL games in 2009-10 with the Atlanta Thrashers, at age 48.
 
5. Ken Morrow -- Perhaps no player in NHL history had the kind of run of success that Morrow had from 1980-83. The native if Davison, Mich., helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, and then went southeast to Long Island, jumped on the New York Islanders' blue line, and helped that team win four straight Stanley Cups. Morrow wasn't a big point-producer -- his best season was 1981-82, when he had 19 points -- but championships seemed to follow him wherever he went.
 
6. Mark Howe -- If you combined Howe's WHA and NHL career stats, he'd rank fourth all-time in scoring among blueliners with 1,246 points. The Detroit native was just 16 years old when he played for the U.S. at the 1972 Olympics. He also played for the U.S. at the 1981 Canada Cup. Not only was Howe an elite offensive performer, his career plus-400 rating is sixth in NHL history among defensemen.
 
7. Gary Suter -- The native of Madison, Wisc., Suter could play physical and pile up the points. He had five NHL seasons with at least 15 goals and five with at least 100 penalty minutes. The 1986 Calder Trophy winner won the 1989 Stanley Cup with the Flames. He played in three World Championships, the 1996 World Cup and the 1998 and 2002 Olympics.
 
GOALIES

Mike Richter (Photo: Getty Images)
1. Mike Richter -- The Abington, Pa., native was in net for two of the biggest hockey accomplishments in recent U.S. history -- he backstopped the U.S. to the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup and the silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. He also helped the Rangers win the 1994 Stanley Cup, and won 301 of the 666 NHL games he played in.
 
2. Tom Barrasso -- The Boston native was taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the fifth pick of the 1983 Entry Draft, and went straight from high school to the NHL that October. He earned the Vezina and Calder trophies in 1984, won a pair of Stanley Cups with the 1991-92 Penguins, and in 19 NHL seasons won 369 games, 15th-most all-time. He also played for the U.S. at the 2002 Olympics.
 
3. Tim Thomas -- The native of Flint, Mich., didn't become a full-time NHL player until 2006, but he's more than made up for lost time. Last season, the 37-year-old became the second goalie ever to win the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup in the same season. He also won the 2009 Vezina. He's played for the U.S. at five World Championships, and won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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