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Fantasy: All-time great roster of former players

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

If you could assemble a team where the stars of yesterday could fill your 16-man fantasy hockey roster, which players would make the cut?

NHL.com turns back the clock to create a roster strategically stacked with the best statistical seasons -- by each position -- since the expansion era began in 1967.

Keep in mind, this roster does not argue the top former players in NHL history, but rather recognizes former NHL players who would have possessed the highest fantasy hockey value based on their best individual seasons.

NOTE: This roster was constructed under the generic Yahoo! Sports fantasy hockey roster format (2 C, 2 LW, 2 RW, 4 D, 2 G, 4 BN), taking the following statistics into account: G, A, PIMs, plus-minus, PPG, SOG for skaters; W, G.A.A., SV%, SO for goalies.

CENTER

Taylor Hall
WAYNE GRETZKY
CENTER - 1981-82 STATS
GOALS: 92 | ASST: 120 | PTS: 212
SOG: 369 | +/-: 81
1. Wayne Gretzky (1981-82 season, Edmonton Oilers)

80 games, 92 G, 120 A, 26 PIMs, plus-81, 18 PPG, 369 SOG

Gretzky is the most dominant point-producer the NHL has ever seen, and never was it more evident than in '81-82. "The Great One" set a League record that stands to this day with 92 goals, and his shot total was a personal best by 11. His point total (212) and plus-minus rating were the second-best of his career. It's probable that a level of Gretzky-like statistical prowess will never be reached again.

2. Mario Lemieux (1988-89 season, Pittsburgh Penguins)

76 games, 85 G, 114 A, 100 PIMs, plus-41, 31 PPG, 313 SOG

"Super Mario" won the scoring title over Gretzky by a landslide in '88-89, displaying an unprecedented combination of points (199), penalty minutes and power-play goals. He also posted the fourth-best goal total and the fifth-best point total in League history. Seasons like this are why Lemieux is the only center in history whose name can be used in the same sentence as Gretzky.

LEFT WING

1. Luc Robitaille (1992-93 season, Los Angeles Kings)

84 games, 63 G, 62 A, 100 PIMs, plus-18, 24 PPG, 265 SOG

Gretzky missed nearly half of the regular season for the Kings in '92-93, but it didn't end up being a detriment to L.A. thanks to Robitaille's incredibly balanced production (125 points, 100 PIMs). Robitaille put forth arguably the greatest statistical campaign at his position in history, scoring the most points ever in a single season by a left wing.

2. Kevin Stevens (1991-92 season, Pittsburgh Penguins)

80 games, 54 G, 69 A, 254 PIMs, plus-8, 19 PPG, 325 SOG

Stevens, who flanked Lemieux at LW on the Penguins' top line in '91-92, became one of four players in League history to accomplish 50-plus goals and at least 200 penalty minutes in one season (Gary Roberts, Brendan Shanahan and Keith Tkachuk round out the list). The diversity of his game would make him an invaluable asset as a top-six forward on this roster.

RIGHT WING

1. Brett Hull (1990-91 season, St. Louis Blues)

78 games, 86 G, 45 A, 22 PIMs, plus-23, 29 PPG, 389 SOG

Jamie Langenbrunner
BRETT HULL
Right Wing - 1990-91 STATS
GOALS: 86 | ASST: 45 | PTS: 131
SOG: 389 | +/-: 23

Following in the footsteps of his father, Bobby, Brett broke out for 86 tallies in '90-91 (most ever by a RW) to surpass Lemieux's total (85) from two seasons earlier as the third-highest output of all time. Hull had a low total of penalty minutes, but his elite shot and goal totals that season earned him a spot in the starting lineup.

2. Mike Bossy (1981-82 season, New York Islanders)

80 games, 64 G, 83 A, 22 PIMs, plus-69, 17 PPG, 301 SOG

Bossy was the offensive sparkplug of the Islanders' dynasty, scoring 100-plus points in seven of his 10 NHL seasons. While he set a career-high with 69 goals and added 27 PPG in '78-79, his '81-82 campaign saw him emerge as one of the most unstoppable point-producers in League history. Bossy's plus-minus rating was a career-best, while his totals of 147 points and 83 assists are second-best among RWs historically.

DEFENSEMEN

1. Bobby Orr (1970-71 season, Boston Bruins)

78 games, 37 G, 102 A, 91 PIMs, plus-124, 5 PPG, 392 SOG

Of all the masterful seasons that Orr produced in his career, '70-71 proved to be the apex. He dished out the most assists and scored the most points (139) in a single season by a d-man in League history, while setting an NHL record with a plus-124 rating. His penalty-minutes total also sniffed the century mark, as Orr shined in the offensive zone unlike any other blueliner in history.

2. Paul Coffey (1985-86 season, Edmonton Oilers)

79 games, 48 G, 90 A, 120 PIMs, plus-61, 9 PPG, 307 SOG

Coffey -- one of the most durable blueliners in history -- registered the best season of his career in '85-86. He notched 48 goals to surpass Orr's 46-goal output in '74-75 for the highest single-season total in League history by a defenseman. He added 90 assists (T-2nd highest single-season output among d-men) to go along with 120 penalty minutes and a plus-61 rating.

3. Al MacInnis (1990-91 season, Calgary Flames)

78 games, 28 G, 75 A, 90 PIMs, plus-42, 17 PPG, 305 SOG

MacInnis' offensive game was in full swing in '90-91, when his 103-point mark made him the highest-scoring d-man in history not named Orr or Coffey. MacInnis collected 90 penalty minutes and a plus-42 rating, forming a two-man wrecking crew on the power play alongside fellow blueliner Gary Suter. MacInnis' memorable season stands as the best fantasy campaign from a post-1990 defenseman.

Brian Boyle
BRIAN LEETCH
DEFENSEMAN - 1991-92 STATS
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 80 | PTS: 102
SOG: 245 | +/-: 25
4. Brian Leetch (1991-92 season, New York Rangers)

80 games, 22 G, 80 A, 26 PIMs, plus-25, 10 PPG, 245 SOG

Leetch's '91-92 season made him the only American-born defenseman in history to reach the 100-point plateau in a single season. He dished out assists galore and posted a great rating as the orchestrator of the Rangers' offense. While his penalty minutes output that season was slim, his on-ice vision and unselfishness made him one of the top point-generating blueliners of all time.

GOALTENDERS

1. Bernie Parent (1973-74 season, Philadelphia Flyers)

73 appearances, 47 wins, 1.89 GAA, N/A SV%, 12 SO

Parent captured a then-record 47 wins, dropping only 13 contests that season en route to winning the Vezina Trophy. Save percentage was not a statistic during his days and thus muddles his fantasy value a bit, but his stingy GAA provides more than enough evidence of his dominance. Parent's wins mark has since been passed, but his earth-shattering numbers that season were unprecedented at that stage of the expansion era.

2. Patrick Roy (2001-02, Colorado Avalanche)

63 appearances, 32 wins, 1.94 GAA, .925 SV%, 9 SO

Roy's illustrious career had many high points, and while his 2000-01 showing (40 W, .913 SV%, 2.21 GAA, 4 SO) was one of the most notable in history, his campaign one season later was more valuable from a fantasy standpoint. His wins total was sub-par for his standards, but his shutouts, G.A.A. and save percentage were all career-highs. For that reason, Roy's '01-02 masterpiece earned the second of two goalie spots on this roster.

BENCH

C - Phil Esposito (1970-71, Boston Bruins)

78 games, 76 G, 76 A, plus-71, 71 PIMs, 25 PPG, 550 SOG

Only three players in NHL history (Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman) have compiled more points in a single season than Esposito did in '70-71 (152). His ability to churn out the highest shot total in NHL history (550) solidifies his spot among the greats at the deepest forward position on the fantasy landscape. Esposito's plus-71 rating and solid penalty minutes total makes him the most valuable fantasy asset among this roster's bench selections.

Pavel Agarkov
STEVE YZERMAN
CENTER - 1988-89 STATS
Goals: 65 | Assists: 90 | Pts: 155
Shots: 388 | +/-: 17
C - Steve Yzerman (1988-89 season, Detroit Red Wings)

80 games, 65 G, 90 A, 61 PIMs, plus-17, 17 PPG, 388 SOG

Because of his position and elite company on this roster, Yzerman barely missed out on the starting lineup. But his tremendous campaign in '88-89 speaks for itself in every category. What's not to like, fantasy-wise, about his all-time great season of 155 points (trailing only single-season totals of Gretzky and Lemieux) and nearly 400 shots on goal?

RW - Guy Lafleur (1976-77, Montreal Canadiens)

80 games, 56 G, 80 A, plus-89, 20 PIMs, 14 PPG, 291 SOG

Lafleur set career-highs in assists, points (136) and plus-minus rating during the '76-77 season, while supplementing his stat line with healthy totals of 56 goals and nearly 300 shots. His season culminated with a Conn Smythe Trophy as the Habs captured the second of what would be four straight Stanley Cup titles to close out the 1970's.

D - Denis Potvin (1975-76, New York Islanders)

78 games, 31 G, 67 A, plus-12, 100 PIMs, 18 PPG, 256 SOG

Potvin compiled 100 penalty minutes in '75-76 for the Isles, while notching 18 goals with the man advantage (T-2nd most ever by a defensemen). His plus-minus rating and assist totals that year trail the aforementioned seasons of Leetch and MacInnis by a substantial margin, but his rare combination of points (98) and penalty minutes warrants recognition among the all-time great fantasy d-men.



Follow Pete Jensen on Twitter: @NHLJensen; Join the conversation: @NHLFantasy

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