For all you small hockey players out there, including myself even though my ship has sailed years ago, there’s hope for you after-all.
If you go to the website of your favorite NHL team you will see players listed between 6’0” and 6’5” or even see players taller than that. But if you look hard enough you will find players averaging out at 5’10” or smaller, and surprisingly they are the best players in the NHL.
In today’s NHL – yes – it’s possible to be a smaller guy and still make a BIG impact in the NHL.
I made a list of a few players that stand out at me who make a big impact for their teams, even though they’re just 5’10” or smaller.
Tobias Enstrom: Defenseman listed as 5’10”, 180 pounds
Playing for the Winnipeg Jets, Enstrom is one of the fewest NHL defensemen in today’s game. Before the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, Enstrom set two franchise records. He surpassed Yannick Termblay for Atlanta’s all time scoring record among defensemen, putting up 120 points in three seasons. He also has the record for most assists in a season for a defenseman, with 44.
Being from Sweden, Tobias Enstrom played for Team Sweden in the 2010 Winter Olympics, recording two assists in four games. And you can bet your bottom dollar, that he will be playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics that are being help in Sochi, Russia.
Michael Cammalleri: Left Wing listed as 5’9”, 182 pounds
Although he now plays for the Calgary Flames and not doing much for them, in his defense the Flames are a complete mess. Not even Crosby could save that franchise. Cammalleri when he played for the Canadiens, he put up some remarkable points in big games too.
In his first season with the Montreal Canadiens he finished the season with 50 points in 65 games with a plus 7 rating. He also had two hat tricks, but really broke out during Montreal’s playoff run.
Cammalleri finished first in goal scoring among all playoff participants with 13 goals and eighth in points with 19. He was also third in playoff game-winning goals with 3.
During the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Cammalleri tied a Montreal franchise record with seven goals in a seven game series.
He ties for the record with Habs greats such as Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Guy Lafleur.
Kris Versteeg: Right Wing listed as 5’10”, 182 pounds
In his rookie season with the Blackhawks in 2008-2009, he finished second in NHL rookie scoring with 53 points. His performance earned him a nomination for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which he lost to goaltender Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In 2009-2010, he finished the regular season with 44 points in 79 games and a plus-eight rating. He was also third in the NHL with three shorthanded goals scored.
During the playoffs, he posted 14 points in 22 games on route to the Blackhawks’ first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
Versteeg will be missed in Chicago, but hopefully, his success translates to a playoff run for the Maple Leafs, wait I mean Flyers..no wait..the Florida Panthers now.
Brian Gionta: Right Wing listed as 5’7”, 174 pounds
Prior to joining Montreal, Gionta played seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils. He won his first Stanley Cup in 2003 and had nine points in 24 playoff games.
In 2006, he finished the season with 48 points, becoming the first Devils player to have 40 goals in a season since Patrik Elias and Alexander Mogilny in 2001. That tally is enough to hold the franchise record for most goals in a season.
Half of his goals in 2006 (24) were power play goals, which set another New Jersey record for most power play goals in a season.
In his first season with the Canadiens (2009-2010) Gionta scored 46 points in 61 games played. That was the year the Canadiens had that incredible playoff run knocking out the two best seeded teams in the Eastern Conference.
Gionta posted 15 points in 19 playoff games that year.
So far in his career he as 425 points in 659 career NHL games and 60 playoff points in 93 career playoff games. Those numbers will continue to increase as each season passes on.
Danny Briere: Right Wing listed as 5’10”, 180 pounds
Briere finished the 2009-2010 regular season with 53 points in 75 games.
In the playoffs, he was the NHL’s leading scorer 30 points (12 goals, and 18 assists) in 23 playoff games. His point total set an NHL record and a Flyers franchise record for most points in a single Stanley Cup playoff run.
Briere is a two time NHL All-Star. He represented the Buffalo Sabres in the 2007 game in Dallas and was named the game’s MVP after scoring five points (one goal, four assists) for the Eastern Conference.
Briere is known for his behind the net style of play and has one of the quickest wrap arounds this game has ever seen.
Martin St. Louis: Right Wing listed as 5’8”, 180 pounds.
In 2004, he won his first Stanley Cup, which was also the Lightning’s first Cup in franchise history. In addition to the Cup, he picked up four NHL awards: the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Hart Memorial Trophy. He had 94 points in the regular season and 24 points in 23 playoff games.
St. Louis is a seven time NHL All Star, having represented the Bolts in the 2003 and 2004 games, as well as participating in the last two All-Star Games (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012).
He finished the 2009-2010 season with 94 points in 82 games, good enough for sixth in the NHL in scoring. His 65 assists were fifth in the league. Then followed it up with 99 points the very next season, 31 goals and 68 assists playing in all 82 games
He also took home the Lady Byng Trophy at the 2010 NHL awards, an award given to the player that best exemplifies sportsmanship in the league.
St. Louis played for Canada in the 2006 Olympics, where he had three points in six games as Canada fell to Russia in the quarterfinals.
So far in 63 career playoff games, St. Louis has 68 points.
Kimmo Timonen: Defenseman listed as 5’10”, 194 pounds
Timonen, one of the Flyers’ alternate captains, played all 82 games for the Flyers during the 2009-2010 regular season and finished with 39 points. He also had 11 points in 23 playoff games.
Timonen has represented Finland in three Olympic games (1998, 2006, and 2010) and has won one silver medal and two bronze medals in competition.
He was named to four NHL All-Star Games (2000, 2004, 2007, and 2008) but only played in the 2004 and 2007 festivities.
Prior to coming to the Flyers, Timonen spent seven seasons with the Nashville Predators, where he holds the franchise record for career assists with 222.
Timonen has also recently signed a 1 year extension worth $6M with the Philadelphia Flyers. And I expect him to retire after the 2013-2014 season. One last run with the Flyers, this guy deserves a Stanley Cup.
Brad Marchand: Left Wing listed as 5’9” 183 pounds
Now playing in his fourth NHL year, all with the Bruins, Marchand has 105 points in 183 career games. And a Stanley Cup ring to go with it.
He has 8 points so far this season in just 10 games played and was the only reason the Bruins had a fighting chance against the New York Rangers on 2/12/13.
I was watching him play in that game and it’s amazing how slippery he is out on the ice and how he can separate himself from the crowd and get lost out there.
Not to mention he scored a shootout goal on the best goalie in the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist.
I fully expect Marchand to be one of the best smallest guys to ever play this game.
Patrick Kane: Right Wing listed as 5’10”, 181 pounds
Kane, the first overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2008 after finishing the season with 72 points in 82 games. He beat Blackhawks teammate Jonathan Toews to receive the award.
In 2009, he finished with 70 points in the regular season and scored his first career hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks in the playoffs. Although the Hawks were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals by the Red Wings, Kane still finished the playoffs with 14 points in 16 games.
2009-2010, he finished the regular season with 88 points in 82 games, which ranked nine in the NHL. He was eighth in assists with 58 and was named to the 2009 NHL All-Star Game.
In the 2010 Olympics, he won a silver medal with Team USA and scored five points in six games.
2010, Kane was third in NHL playoff scoring with 28 points and second in playoff assists with 18. He scored the game winning goal in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals, defeating the Flyers to end the Hawks’ long Cup drought.
So far Kane has 389 points in 412 career NHL games and expect those number to double or more before his career is over. He also has 52 points in 51 NHL playoff games.
In the 2013 season Kane has 20 points in just 13 games so far, and the Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation.
Among these great players that I have mentioned there are still a ton of other “small” players who bring a big game to the table.
Dalls Stars, Derek Roy (5’9” 184LBS)
Buffalo Sabres, Nathan Gerbe (5’5” 178LBS)
New Jersey Devils, Stephen Gionta (5’7” 185LBS)
So as you can see, if you’re one of the small guys, don’t let that bring you down, you can still play a BIG game no matter your size.
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