Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin did not manage to make the cut when the NHL unveiled its Top 100 players of all-time – an omission that essentially compromises the entire list – but he can take solace in not only being on another list, but being at the top of it. Russian magazine Sport-Express recently named the top 50 Russian NHL players of all-time and Malkin, who recently picked up his third Stanley Cup, is No. 1.
The magazine did its ratings based on the following criteria: level of play at the peak of the NHL career, consistency, titles and longevity. Careers in Russia and in international play were not considered.
So that’s what makes this list unique. Malkin is at the top of it, just ahead of Sergei Fedorov, only because of what he has done in the best league in the world. If the entirety of careers were taken into account, Slava Fetisov would be vying for No. 1 instead of being at 30. Soviet legends Valeri Kharlamov, Vsevolod Bobrov and Vladislav Tretiak would join Fetisov at the top of the list, with Boris Mikhailov and Alexander (Rags) Ragulin close behind.
But it is an interesting group. Here it is, in order:
1. Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh): Tied with Fedorov and Igor Larionov for most Stanley Cups (three) and could be No. 2 on all-time Russian scoring list by the time he retires.
2. Sergei Fedorov (Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus, Washington): Highest-scoring Russian player of all-time and joins Bobby Clarke as the only players in NHL history to win both the Hart and Selke trophies during the careers. Fedorov is the only player to do it in the same year.
3. Alex Ovechkin (Washington): Easily the greatest Russian NHL goalscorer of all-time, but has yet to get his team out of the second round of the playoffs. Father Time is chasing both him and the Capitals.
4. Pavel Bure (Vancouver, Florida, NY Rangers): Before Ovechkin came along, The Russian Rocket was the most dynamic Russian player ever. Came agonizingly close to winning the Cup with Vancouver, but never did.
5. Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit, Arizona sort of): A magician with the puck, Datsyuk dazzled with his abilities and established himself as one of the greatest two-way players of all-time.
6. Sergei Zubov (NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Dallas): Seems a little high on the list, but that might be because he was one of the more under-appreciated players when he played. One of the game’s great all-time power play quarterbacks.
7. Nikolai Khabibulin (Winnipeg/Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Edmonton): Has played more games (799) than any other Russian goalie and won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2003-04.
8. Alexander Mogilny (Buffalo, Vancouver, New Jersey, Toronto): Helped blaze a trail for other Russian players and posted the fifth-highest single-season goal total with 76 in 1992-93. Should be in the Hall of Fame and probably will be someday.
9. Sergei Gonchar (Washington, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Dallas, Montreal): No Russian defenseman has played more games or scored more goals or points than Gonchar, who won the Cup with the Penguins in 2009.
10. Sergei Bobrovsky (Philadelphia, Columbus): Two-time Vezina Trophy winner has the highest career save percentage among Russians who have played at least 50 NHL games. If he wins a Cup or two along the way, he’ll move up the list.
11. Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta, New Jersey): Exactly a point per game playing the first half of his career during the Dead Puck Era. Could be back in the NHL after next season.
12. Alexei Kovalev (NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Ottawa, Florida): No Russian player has played as many NHL games as Kovalev, who was the first Russian player drafted in the first round. He was loved by fans pretty well everywhere he played.
13. Alexei Zhamnov (Winnipeg, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston): Weird stat for Zhamnov: He scored 30 goals only once during his career and it was in 1994-95, when a lockout limited the season to just 48 games.
14. Alexei Yashin (Ottawa, NY Islanders): Yashin’s NHL career ended in 2007, but the Islanders didn’t finish paying his buyout until eight years later. A mercurial talent, Yashin was sublime with the puck.
15. Andrei Markov (Montreal): Yet to find NHL work for next season, Markov has been a mainstay on the Canadiens defense corps and power play for 16 seasons.
16. Igor Larionov (Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit, Florida, New Jersey): The Professor was a three-time Cup winner with the Red Wings and was an all-time great two-way talent. Probably a little lower than he should be.
17. Valeri Kamensky (Quebec/Colorado, NY Rangers, Dallas, New Jersey): Scored 38 goals for the Avalanche and added 10 more, plus 12 assists, in the playoffs to help Colorado to its first Stanley Cup in 1995-96.
18. Slava Kozlov (Detroit, Buffalo, Atlanta): A two-time Cup winner with the Red Wings, Kozlov twice scored 30 goals in the NHL.
19. Evgeny Nabokov (San Jose, NY Islanders, Tampa Bay): The 2001 Calder Trophy winner has won more games than any other Russian goalie (353) and has the best goals-against average (2.44) among those who played at least 50 NHL games.
20. Sergei Makarov (Calgary, San Jose, Dallas): The NHL changed its Calder Trophy eligibility rules when Makarov won the award at the age of 31 in 1990. His best days were already behind him when he entered the NHL.
21. Alexei Zhitnik (Los Angeles, Buffalo, NY Islanders, Atlanta): Born in Ukraine, Zhitnik represented the Soviet Union and Russia during his career. Scored 30 points in eight of his first 10 NHL seasons and was tough.
22. Vladimir Konstantinov (Detroit): Might have been a Hall of Famer had his career not ended in a limousine crash after the Red Wings won the Cup in 1997. Tough, tough, tough.
23. Vladimir Malakhov (NY Islanders, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Rangers, Philadelphia): He had a long career with some good seasons, but he confounded coaches and fans alike with what looked like a laissez-faire approach to the game.
24. Darius Kasparaitis (NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Colorado, NY Rangers): A Lithuania-born player who punched his own goalie in the head after a World Junior game, Kasparaitis got more mileage out of hard work and grittiness than probably any other Russian player.
25. Alex Semin (Washington, Carolina, Montreal): Another player with an enormous amount of talent and a confounding work ethic, Semin enjoyed his best years playing with Ovechkin on the Capitals.
26. Viktor Kozlov (San Jose, Florida, NY Islanders, Washington): Broke the 20-goal barrier only twice, but scored 50-plus points three times. Never came close to that level of production in the playoffs, though.
27. Sergei Samsonov (Boston, Edmonton, Montreal, Carolina, Chicago, Florida): Won the Calder Trophy in 1997-98 over teammate and first overall pick Joe Thornton and had some good seasons with the Bruins, registering 20-plus goals four times.
28. Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis): Look for him to move up this list as his career progresses. He’s really starting to pile up the goal totals.
29. Dmitri Yushkevich (Philadelphia, Toronto, Florida, Los Angeles): A tough, stay-at-home defenseman, Yushkevich loved nothing more than going head-to-head against the best players in the game.
30. Slava Fetisov (New Jersey, Detroit): Had he not come to the NHL when he was 32, he would have been one of the all-time greats in the league. As it is, he’s arguably the best player Russia has ever produced.
31. German Titov (Calgary, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Anaheim): Started his career with three 20-goal seasons in his first four years, then tailed off badly.
32. Ilya Bryzgalov (Anaheim, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Edmonton, Minnesota): Amid all the crazy things he has said, it’s easy to forget that Bryzgalov was one of the league’s premier goaltenders at one time.
33. Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay): Another player who will rocket up this list if he keeps up what he’s doing right now. Might be the NHL’s most underrated player.
34. Alexei Gusarov (Quebec/Colorado, NY Rangers, St. Louis): One of the core players who went from the bad old days in Quebec to a Stanley Cup in Colorado, Gusarov is a member of the Triple Gold Club, having won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship.
35. Maxim Afinogenov (Buffalo, Atlanta): Compared to Bure early in his career, Afinogenov defined himself with his speed and skill, but too rarely put all his tools together consistently.
36. Alexander Karpovtsev (NY Rangers, Toronto, Chicago, NY Islanders, Florida): Had a superior mind for the game and the nuances of playing good defense. Was killed in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011.
37. Slava Voynov (Los Angeles): His legal issues forced him out of the NHL at the age of 25 and nobody knows whether he’ll ever find his way back again. Was a defensive stalwart on two Stanley Cup winners.
38. Artemi Panarin (Chicago): He lands on the list despite having played just two NHL seasons, but what NHL seasons they were. The Columbus Blue Jackets are hoping he’ll help lead them to a Stanley Cup.
39. Oleg Tverdovsky (Anaheim, Winnipeg/Phoenix, New Jersey, Carolina, Los Angeles): A second overall pick by the Ducks in 1994, Tverdovsky went on to play more than 700 games in the NHL. He won Cups with the Devils in 2003 and the Hurricanes three years later.
40. Andrei Kovalenko (Quebec/Colorado, Montreal, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Carolina, Boston): ‘The Tank’ was denied a Stanley Cup when he was moved to Montreal by Colorado in 1995 as part of the Patrick Roy blockbuster trade.
41. Alexander Frolov (Los Angeles, NY Rangers): Still playing in the KHL at the age of 35, Frolov left the NHL in 2011 after having a number of productive seasons with the Kings.
42. Semyon Varlamov (Washington, Colorado): Had a miserable season with the woeful Avalanche in 2016-17, but prior to that had been the Avs backbone.
43. Sergei Brylin (New Jersey): A long-time favorite of former GM Lou Lamoriello and fellow Devils executive David Conte, Brylin was an industrious center who could fill any role. He was a big part of the Devils’ three Cups.
44. Igor Korolev (St. Louis, Winnipeg/Phoenix, Toronto, Chicago): A hard-working two-way center, Korolev became a Canadian citizen late in his career. He was also killed in the Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011.
45. Sergei Nemchinov (NY Rangers, Vancouver, NY Islanders, New Jersey): A Stanley Cup winner with both the Rangers and the Devils, Nemchinov scored 20-plus goals each of his first three seasons.
46. Igor Kravchuk (Chicago, Edmonton, St. Louis, Ottawa, Calgary, Florida): Remember the lone defenseman who was back for the Soviets on the 3-on-1 on Mario Lemieux’s winning goal in the 1987 Canada Cup? Yup. It was Igor Kravchuk.
47. Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington): Another player who will likely be much higher on this list if it is done 10 years from now.
48. Alexander Radulov (Nashville, Montreal): It’s too bad he spent most of the time until last season being petulant and chasing the money in the KHL. But he still has some time to do something special with the Dallas Stars.
49. Alexander Khavanov (St. Louis, Toronto): Drafted at the age of 27, six years after playing a season in the East Coast League, Khavanov spent four productive seasons with the Blues.
50. Dmitri Mironov (Toronto, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Detroit, Washington): Another older draft pick, Mironov managed to win his only Cup after being dealt to the Red Wings at the 1998 trade deadline.