For many years size was often the determining factor that restricted many smaller talented players from making the NHL.
However, over the past several years, the game has revolutionized and it is now more focused on speed and skill. As a result, we have seen a new wave of smaller players come into the NHL and make a major impact.
On that account, let’s take a look at five of the best-undersized players in the NHL right now.
*All listed measurements retrieved from NHL.com
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand was a third-round pick (71st overall) of the Boston Bruins back in the 2006 NHL draft.
Although he is probably one of the most annoying players to face in the league, Marchand has also been one of the most consistent scorers for Boston over the past seven seasons.
He is often referred to as an “elite pest” and has been suspended multiple times in his career, but there is no denying the fact that he is an elite offensive talent.
During the Bruins’ 2011 playoff run, Marchand scored an impressive 19 points in 25 games and was a key contributor to the team’s Stanley Cup championship.
Over the years, we have seen Marchand grow to become a face of the Boston Bruins’ franchise. He has breached the 20-goal plateau six times in his NHL career and has averaged 31 goals in his past four seasons.
Just this past season, Marchand had a career-year, scoring 39 goals, and 85 points, and finished in the top-five in NHL scoring.
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Although, he is listed at 5’9”, Johnny Gaudreau might be closer to 5’6” in real life.
Despite his size, he has proven almost every critic wrong saying that he was “too small” to play in the NHL.
“Johnny Hockey” has succeeded at every level before entering the NHL.
Notable accolades include the USHL Rookie of the Year award, USHL All-Star game, and the Hobey Baker Award.
From then on, Gaudreau took his talents to Calgary and never looked back.
As a rookie in 2014/15, Johnny Gaudreau scored an impressive 24 goals and 64 points in 80 games.
Following his maiden campaign, the 24-year old did not slow down and continued to be an offensive catalyst for Calgary in his next two seasons.
During the 2015/16 season, Gaudreau scored 30 goals and 78 points and followed that up with 61 points in 72 games the following season. In both season’s the New Jersey native led the Flames in scoring.
In retrospect, Gaudreau is one of the biggest draft steals in the NHL in the past 10 years, being taken in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL draft, with the 104th pick.
Aside from Patrick Kane, Gaudreau is one the craftiest players in the NHL today, with elite stickhandling and offensives skills, making him one of the most dangerous scorers in the NHL.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Ever since being selected first overall in 2007, Patrick Kane has helped the Chicago Blackhawks become a modern-day dynasty by winning three Stanley Cups in seven seasons.
Number 88 is arguably the best American-born player in the NHL in his generation.
Kane is a six-time NHL All-Star and has won the Calder, Conn Smythe, Art Ross, Hart Memorial and Ted Lindsay Awards. Impressively, he has achieved all this by the age of 26 and is still only 28-years-old right now.
When it’s all said and done, Kane should finish somewhere in the top five, in the all-time total points list for American NHL players.
Stats aside, the two-time Olympian is one of the most dominant players in the league with his ability to control the pace of the game, and create scoring chances with his world-class stick handling abilities and amazing vision with the puck.
Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin played in the KHL for nine seasons before joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015/16.
Despite playing only two seasons in the NHL, he has already impressed many people around the league, including his former teammate Patrick Kane.
Although he is only 5’11” and 170lbs, his offensive skill set and hockey IQ make him an elite point producer and a deadly scorer.
In his two seasons in the Windy City, Panarin averaged 31 goals and 76 points. On top of that, he surprisingly outvoted Connor McDavid to win the 2015/16 Calder Trophy.
He is still young at only 25-years-old and should be a force to be reckoned with in his prime for several more years.
Now as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets he will likely be put into a bigger role on offense, which might result in Panarin putting up even bigger numbers in the next few years.
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Joe Pavelski is one of the biggest draft steals in NHL history. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL draft at 205th overall.
“Little Joe” has scored 295 goals and 631 points in 806 career NHL games for the San Jose Sharks. Pavelski has had seven NHL seasons with at least 25 goals or more and has hit the 30-goal plateau four times in his NHL career.
Despite being undersized, Pavelski is still one of the best all-around players in the league and continues to produce at a high level. He can play in all situations and is the perfect “Swiss Army Knife” player that every team would love to have.
Pavelski has been a key player for the San Jose Sharks’ franchise for much of the past decade. After taking over as the Sharks captain in 2015, Pavelski led the Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history.
The Wisconsin-born versatile forward is currently ranked 36th in the American born NHL Players ‑ All-Time scoring list. He is only 33-years-old, so he has a chance to push himself into the top 10-15 before he retires.
Cam Atkinson – Columbus Blue Jackets
Viktor Arvidsson – Nashville Predators
Tyler Johnson – Tampa Bay Lightning
What do you think of this list of undersized players? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to vote in the poll as well.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?