Picking the top 10 New York Rangers of all time, as with any original six team, was a difficult challenge. Though the New York Rangers only have 1 Stanley Cup since 1940 they have seen some legendary hockey players come and go in that time. When creating this list of the top 10 New York Rangers of all time I tried to include players from many different eras, and tried to represent all positions. No easy task with so many players to choose from. Still, looking at the list, I think I’m satisfied. Many great New York Rangers are conspicuously absent, but this is a tough list to crack, and being 11th or 12th all time for such a storied franchise isn’t anything to sneeze at. Here are my picks for the top 10 New York Rangers of all time:
10 – Vic Hadfield
Vic Hadfield was a consistent point getter who spent his fair share of time in the sin bin as well. His combination of skill and grit made him one of the most popular players in New York Rangers’ history. He, along with Gilbert and Ratelle formed the goal-a-game line, and in the 1971-72 season he became the first Ranger ever to score 50 goals in a single season. He served as captain of the Rangers for 4 seasons, and racked up over 700 points during his NHL career.
9 – Ed Giacomin
This 6 time All-star goalie is a no-brainer for a spot on the list of the top 10 New York Rangers of all time. He played 10 full seasons for the Rangers in the 60s and 70s, leading the league in shutouts 3 times over that span and capturing a Vezina trophy in 1971. His 54 career shutouts put him in the top 20 in NHL history in that category, and though he never won a Stanley Cup, he backstopped the Rangers to the 1972 Stanley Cups finals, where they gave the stacked Boston Bruins all that they could handle before finally bowing out in 6 games.
8 – Andy Bathgate
One of the most prolific point getters in New York Rangers’ history, this right winger bounced between the WHL and the NHL, but squeezed in 10 productive campaigns with the Rangers during the 50s and 60s. During that time he won a Hart trophy as NHL MVP, and once tied Bobby Hull for the NHL lead in points. Hull won the Art Ross that year because he had more goals. Though he, like so many other Ranger players, couldn’t help catapult the team to Stanley Cup glory, he did manage to nab a Stanley Cup ring with the Toronto Maple Leafs the same year he was traded from the Rangers.
7 – Rod Gilbert
Coming in at the number 6 spot on the list of the top 10 New York Rangers of all time is career Broadway Blueshirt, Rod Gilbert. This diminutive right winger was a model of consistency during his time with the Rangers, averaging nearly a point a game during his 18 seasons with the club. He would finish his career with 1,021 points, and is the Rangers’ all time leader in goals, assists and points. He played in 8 All-star games during his NHL Hall of Fame career, but sadly never managed to capture a Stanley Cup during his time there.
6 – Mike Richter
Until Henrik Lundqvist came along Mike Richter was the Rangers’ all time leader in career wins with 301, and that number could have been a lot higher had a fractured skull and accompanying concussion problems not forced him to retire during the 2002-03 season. But for Ranger fans, the most important statistic of Mike Richter’s impressive career is the Stanley Cup championship he backstopped the Rangers to in the 1994 season, ending a 54 year drought for the once storied franchise.
5 – Jean Ratelle
This slick-passing centerman gets little recognition as one of the game’s all time greats, but there can be no question he merits a high spot on the list of the top 10 New York Rangers of all time. Until the 2005-06 season when Jaromir Jagr scored 123 points, Ratelle’s 109 points in the 1971-72 season stood as the team’s all time single season scoring record. Playing with Gilbert and Hadfield on the goal-a-game line, Ratelle helped take apart opposing teams’ defenses, pouring in points for the Rangers season after season . Though he would be traded to the Boston Bruins in a blockbuster trade involving Phil Esposito, and his finished his career there, Ratelle will always be remember as a New York Ranger.
4 – Henrik Lundqvist
No, he doesn’t have the Stanley Cup championship that Mike Richter does, but few would argue that King Henrik has surpassed Richter as the greatest goalie to ever suit up for the Rangers. Lundqvist has been arguably the best goalie in the game over the past decade, consistently finishing in the top 5 in Vezina voting and winning it once in 2012. He was brilliant in the 2014 playoffs, backstopping his club to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since they won it all in 1994.
3 – Mark Messier
The second leading scorer in NHL history, and the man that captained the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years is a hero in New York City, and despite the fact he spent less than half of his incredible career there, his contributions were such he is an easy choice for number 3 on the list of the top 10 New York Rangers of all time. The same year he led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup, his guarantee of victory and subsequent natural hat trick when facing elimination in game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals stands as one of the greatest performances in NHL history. He won the Hart trophy as the NHL’s MVP in his first season with the Rangers, but it is the Stanley Cup he brought that makes him one of the most beloved sports figures in New York.
2 – Frank Boucher
Though he never put up the prolific offensive numbers that others on this list have, a doff of the cap still has to go to this classy player, who not only won 2 Stanley Cups as a player, but coached the team to the 1940 Stanley Cup that would be the franchise’s last for 54 years. Considered by many as the ultimate New York Ranger, he was one of the most gentlemanly players the NHL has ever seen, capturing the Lady Byng trophy a record 7 times during his playing days.
1 – Brian Leetch
Some people might be shocked to see this guy’s name at the peak of the list of the top 10 New York Rangers of all time. A case could certainly be made for Ratelle, Gilbert, Boucher, or Messier, but for my money this guy deserves the spot. Perhaps only Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey had more offensive talent among blueliners in NHL history, racking up over 1,000 points during his career. Though Messier and Richter seem to get most of the credit for the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup victory, it was actually Leetch who won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP that year, his 34 points the second highest total ever for a defenseman in a single playoff year. He was the quarterback of the New York Rangers’ offense, and his brilliant vision and passing skills made every one of his teammates better. A clear choice, in my opinion, as the greatest New York Ranger of all time.
Featured image by sarah_connors