Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments of the decade. Here is the NHL Team of the Decade lineup.
NHL Decade Team
The NHL has seen lots of memorable moments over the past decade. Despite only having six different teams win the Stanley Cup over the past 11 years, this NHL Decade has been one to remember. A change in pace, records broken, and a new era of hockey that features exciting young talent all over the lineup. This NHL decade saw the last of the enforcers, however, really started to bring in a new smaller type of player. The game keeps on getting faster as time goes on. All of these factors made this list very tough to decide on. So many players could be considered in every position. However, here is the NHL decade team.
Left-Wing: Alex Ovechkin
While there were other names to consider, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that Alex Ovechkin is the NHL decade teams, left-winger. Ovechkin has been a force in this league since he entered, however, this decade was something special. Although he started the decade with people wondering if he had lost his scoring touch, he finished with over 400 goals in the decade. This was by far the most any player had over the decade too.
To add to this, Ovechkin added a Stanley Cup to his resume in 2018. This was the only thing people had to hold against him. Now, there is no narrative that he “can’t get it done when it matters” or “can’t win the big one”. Ovechkin is clearly the best left-winger from this decade. He also ranks 3rd in overall points for the decade, according to Quant Hockey. It will be interesting to see how much longer Ovechkin can keep dominating goalies around the league. He currently shows no signs of slowing down, however, the 2010s will very likely be the best stretch of his career.
Centre: Sidney Crosby
Another one that probably shouldn’t shock anyone, Sidney Crosby has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups in this decade. While the beginning of this decade wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for Crosby or the Penguins, the middle and end were much better. Crosby has the second-most points in the 2010s, however, he also played 116 fewer games in that time then the person in first place. Despite that, Crosby was only 35 points behind. Crosby hit the 100 point plateau three times this decade. In 2010, 2013-14, and 2018-19. The only time he fell under 80 points was when the season was shortened. Either due to a lockout or injuries. All three of those years he played between 22 and 41 games.
There doesn’t need to be too much explanation as to why Crosby is the NHL decade team’s centre. It’s incredible to think his numbers could have been even more astonishing if Crosby would have had a clean bill of health. However, he has still been the best player in the league for a long time. While that title may now be taken, he remains among the league’s elite players.
Right Wing: Patrick Kane
The discussion around Patrick Kane these days is very interesting. He is putting up some of the highest point totals of his career, however, his underlying numbers show that the Chicago Blackhawks give more up than they create while Kane is on the ice. That still does not stop Kane from being the best right-winger of the decade. Kane led the league in points over the past decade with 792 in 729 games. His ability to stay relatively healthy helped in a lot in that, but he is also one of the best offensive players in the game. His regular-season point totals speak for themselves.
Then, there is Kane’s playoff history. This decade, the Chicago Blackhawks won three Stanley Cups. They came in 2010, 2013, and 2015. A truly insane run and probably the closest we will get to seeing a dynasty in the NHL. The salary cap makes it so hard to compete year after year in the NHL. The Hawks managed to do that for six years before finally falling off. Kane was a massive part of this success.
He had 109 points in 111 playoff games over the decade. The Hawks made many long runs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In all of those runs, Kane was one of the key guys they relied on to produce when needed. Huge goals and moments, including an overtime Stanley Cup Winner. That is why Kane lands on this list.
Left Defenceman: Duncan Keith
Yet another Blackhawk that has seen a shift in how people talk about him the past few seasons. Duncan Keith has really struggled as the past few seasons have gone by. This shouldn’t come as a shock as he is getting older and has put a ton of miles on his body. Those miles are what lands him on this list. Keith was another massive part of the Hawks Stanley Cup wins. Each year, he would log massive minutes on the backend.
With his cups, Keith landed a Conn Smythe in 2015 for the most valuable player in the playoffs. His ability to play almost half the game at an elite level no matter how long it went was a huge reason Chicago was so dominant for so long. He just never seemed to tire out as the game went on. Keith ranks 14th in points by a defenceman this decade while also being a rock in his own end for most of it.
The past few seasons haven’t been kind to Keith, but he is easily one of the best defencemen of the past decade.
Right Defenceman: Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson is another polarizing figure these days as his many lower-body injuries have made him an easier target to be blown by off the rush. However, Karlsson absolutely dominated most of this decade and has earned his spot here. Karlsson won two Norris Trophies this past decade and he likely could have had two more. Drew Doughty won one because of his defensive abilities, then the following year Brent Burns won because of how many points he put up. Both of these years Karlsson had a legit argument that he was the best defenceman in the league.
He was absolutely elite in the offensive end. He had some of the best vision in the game and a shot that any goalie had to respect. However, his play in his own end was better than people give him credit for. His ability to use his stick and quickly transition the puck back up the ice was very underrated. Yes, he made a very bad looking play every once in a while, but he more than made up for it with all the other small stuff he did well.
The peak of Karlsson’s decade came in 2017 when he carried the Ottawa Senators to double overtime in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. He had so many memorable moments in that run, but maybe no more memorable than his pass to Mike Hoffman. That playoff run encapsulated how dominant he was for the entire decade.
Goalie: Carey Price
This was by far the hardest position to choose for this list. Carey Price just edged out two other goalies in Sergei Bobrovsky and Henrik Lundqvist. Both of those guys had amazing decades and an argument could be made that either of them were the best over the decade. However, we went with Price, especially due to his incredible peak season. In 2014-15 he won the Vezina and the Hart trophy. He carried a Montreal Canadiens team as far as they could go that year. He was the first goalie to win the Hart trophy in over a decade.
However, it wasn’t just one season that Price was good for. While he has fallen off a bit in the past few seasons, he still ranks first in goals saved above average from Evolving Hockey for the decade. He also ranks third in goals saved above expected. Price was an absolute rock for the Canadiens for a lot of this decade. While injuries have hurt him lately, it is fair to say that his peak performance in this decade was just too much to not have him on this list.
Evgeni Malkin: As usual in his career, Malkin has to sit behind Crosby. However, he was still an amazing player and critical to those Stanley Cup-winning teams that Pittsburgh had.
Patrice Bergeron: The Boston Bruins have a few guys that have been solid all decade. Bergeron never put up the massive point totals but was always one of the top centres in the league. He helped the Bruins to a cup in 2011 and a Finals appearance in both 2013 and 2019.
Drew Doughty: Two cups under his name certainly made him a close call for this list. However, his personal peak just wasn’t quite as high as the two other Dmen. He has been a top defender in the league for years still.
Henrik Lundqvist: As mentioned earlier, he just missed out on this list. Lundqvist was a huge reason the New York Rangers made the finals in 2014. It is a shame that he didn’t get his Stanley Cup. Lundqvist also led the league in GSAx over the decade.
Sergei Bobrovsky: Also mentioned earlier, Bobrovsky has had a very underrated decade. His peak was one of the best we have seen in a very long time. However, his poor end to the decade hurts him a bit.