After recently seeing an article put out by CBS Sports where they outlined the all-decade lineup of the 2010s for the MLB, I thought I would take a stab at picking out the all-decade lineup for the NHL. For this challenge I specifically went by the rules of only going with the setup of three forwards, two defenseman and one goalie.
Left Wing: Alex Ovechkin
As I found when figuring out my other players for the forward positions for this list, Alex Ovechkin is an easy, and correct, answer as the best left wing of the 2010s. Not only is Ovechkin considered to already be one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, but he has played sensational hockey throughout the entirety of the 2010s. To just name some of his accolades he has won the Ted Lindsay Award, the Hart Memorial Trophy and six Maurice Rocket Richard Trophies as the league’s highest goal scorer. To cap it all off Ovechkin etched his name into hockey history forever when he led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 2018.
Ovechkin has scored 50 or more goals five times throughout the decade and tallied 420 goals and 715 points, the most amount of goals and points for any left winger. Ovechkin is an instant first ballot hall of famer and while his future following this contract is uncertain, he seems to be the only player to be able to give Wayne Gretzky’s goal record a run for its money.
Center: Sidney Crosby
If the metaphorical torch of the best player in hockey has been passed to Connor McDavid as we head into the 2020s, the 2010s were dominated by the excellence of Sidney Crosby. Crosby wasted no time showing his skills when he broke into the league in the 2005-06 season scoring over 100 points. Since the start of the 2010s, Crosby has been the undisputed best player in hockey winning on all levels whether that be in the NHL or internationally. Crosby tallied over 100 points three times this decade with a career high 51 goals in the 2009-10 season. He has led the Pittsburgh Penguins into being a consistent playoff contender and being the first team since the turn of the millennium to win back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017.
While Ovechkin may have scored the most goals of the 2010s, Crosby had the best point percentage netting 268 goals and 727 points in 589 games played. The rosters of the Penguins may have evolved over the years, but the 32 year old is showing no signs of slowing down scoring at a point per game pace this season and helping Pittsburgh continue their playoff streak of thirteen straight seasons. When it comes to the best center of the 2010s, Sidney Crosby is a no-brainer.
Right Wing: Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane is quickly solidifying himself as not only one of the best American players in NHL history, but as one of the best right wingers throughout the 2010s. Kane broke into the league during the 2007-08 season and it only took three seasons until Kane’s presence was felt as he led the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup since 1961 in the 2009-10 season. Kane and the Blackhawks would go on to become of the league’s modern dynasties winning another two Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015 and becoming the standard of success on how to win in the salary cap era.
Throughout the past decade Kane tallied 30 or more goals four times and eclipsed the 100 point plateau and set a career high of 110 points in the 2018-19 season. Kane took home a large assortment of hardware in the 2015-16 season winning the Hart Memorial Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award. He also finished the decade as the highest scoring forward potting 294 goals and 744 points in 691 games. While the dynasty days of the Chicago Blackhawks may have come to an end, Kane still has a lot of exciting hockey left to play.
Defenseman: Erik Karlsson
Since breaking into the NHL at the start of the decade, Erik Karlsson has quickly developed into one of the league’s best defenseman. By taking a quick glance at Karlsson’s stats, a one could be under the assumption that he is a forward as he’s tallied 132 goals and 587 points in his ten NHL seasons. As one of the highest scoring defenseman on a yearly basis, Karlsson has scored at least 10 goals six times in the decade along with being the highest scoring defenseman of the decade only slightly ahead of his teammate Brent Burns. He is one of only two players to win the James Norris Trophy multiple times in the 2010s along with Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith.
Even though he has yet to reach the numbers he put up in his final years with the Ottawa Senators, Karlsson has been one of the more consistent scoring defenseman and edges out some other candidates in my mind as one of the decade’s best defenseman.
Defenseman: Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty was a large reason why the Los Angeles Kings were one of the more dominant teams throughout the 2010s. Despite not having the same kind of outstanding offensive numbers like Karlsson, Doughty has been the best of both worlds as one of the league’s better defenders while also chipping in significant offense year in and year out.
Doughty tallied 10 or more goals seven times throughout the decade and set career highs of 16 goals and 59 points in his second season in the NHL. Doughty also scored 14 goals and 51 points in 82 games as he captured the James Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in the 2015-16 season.
He also was integral in the Kings capturing two Stanley Cup Championships in 2012 and 2014 which saw Doughty tally 16 points in 20 playoff games and 18 points in 26 playoff games respectively. The Kings are a shell of their former selves, but Doughty has continued producing offensively scoring at least 40 points in every season since their last Stanley Cup.
Goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury
Since the start of the decade Fleury has been one of the most consistent and dominant goaltenders in the NHL and has been a force in net for not only the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the Vegas Golden Knights as well. Fleury has appeared in the third most games in this decade behind only Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne, but has the most wins in the decade with 279 wins.
Although not directly involved in the 2015-16 postseason which saw Matt Murray lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship, Fleury was key during the regular season and played a much larger role in their repeat success the following year. He also quickly became the face of the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise when he was selected in the Expansion Draft following the back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh.
While the forward selections seemed a bit more obvious, the goaltending was actually where I struggled the most when making my pick. There have been a handful of goalies who have been dominant over the last ten years and it was certainly hard to make a choice. However, I think Marc-Andre Fleury gets the edge here.