Brett Hull of the Blues doing what he does best, shooting the puck. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
By Brian Liu
There’s more than one way to score a goal in the NHL. Sometimes, it’s an amazing individual effort, a beautiful passing play or even a mishap by the padded man. There are players who drive to the net and score through sheer force of will and others who pick their spots on the ice to uncork a deadly shot.
Today, we focus on the latter category as THN’s Top 10 takes a look at the best shots of all time.
10. Bernie Geoffrion
Fittingly, we start this list with Geoffrion, who claimed to have invented the slapshot. ‘Boom-Boom’ was one of the most prolific scorers of his era, becoming the second player to reach 50 goals in a season. A longtime Canadien, Geoffrion slapped his way to 393 goals in 16 NHL seasons - popularizing the big shot.
9. Steven Stamkos
It’s still early in this Markham, Ont., native’s career, but at only 21, Stamkos has already won a Rocket Richard Trophy (shared with Sidney Crosby in 2010). Whether or not you think Stamkos is a one-dimensional shooter, there’s no question he’s the deadliest one-timer artist in the league. And with Martin St-Louis feeding him pucks, he should continue that trend in years to come.
8. Al Iafrate
This 6-foot-3, 240-pound bruiser quarterbacked NHL power plays for more than a decade. Drafted fourth overall in 1984 by the Maple Leafs, Iafrate was rushed to the NHL, but eventually developed into a consistent point producer with a rocket from the blueline. Iafrate scored 20 goals three times, but he was forced to retire at age 32 due to chronic knee injuries. He retired with the hardest shot in skills competition history with a blast that clocked in at 105.2 mph.
7. Joe Sakic
During his career, Joe Sakic was the unquestioned master of the wrist shot, with his quick wrister bettering the slapshots of most players in the league. The pride of Burnaby, B.C., scored 625 goals over his 20-year career, all with the Colorado organization. The sight of ‘Super Joe’ streaking down the wing and unleashing a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wrist shot past a frozen goalie is still one of the most enduring images for Avalanche fans.
6. Zdeno Chara
Iafrate’s record for the hardest shot stood for 16 years until Chara broke it with a 105.4 mph blast in 2009. Two years later, Chara would break his own record with a 105.9 mph shot. Chara was drafted by the Islanders for his 6-foot-9 frame, but it took four years and a trade to Ottawa before the big Slovak broke out. He doesn’t score as much as you would think (his career-high in goals is 19), but blockers are terrified.
5. Jari Kurri
Wayne Gretzky’s triggerman during the Oilers dynasties of the ’80s, Kurri was a dangerous one-timer specialist and one of the most money goal-scorers ever. The right winger had 106 playoff markers, including 14 game winners, and he shares the record with Reggie Leach for most goals in a playoff run (19). Kurri is still considered Finland’s Mr. Hockey, inspiring generations of players (including Ducks right winger Teemu Selanne).
4. Bobby Hull
Along with fellow Black Hawk Stan Mikita, “The Golden Jet” was one of the first players to use a curved stick. The puck leapt off the elder Hull’s weapon - he still has the hardest slapshot ever recorded at 118.3 mph (though speed guns were less reliable back then). Hull would have finished with more than 610 NHL goals had he not played seven years in the upstart WHA.
3. Al MacInnis
MacInnis announced his presence to the league during his rookie season, when he scored on Mike Liut of the St. Louis Blues. MacInnis skated in from the blueline and blasted a shot that cracked Liut’s mask, knocked the goalie down and bounced into the net. The league took notice and started quivering in fear of No. 2’s shot. MacInnis quickly developed a reputation for putting players on the disabled list: In 1999, he injured teammate and goalie Rich Parent during warmups, breaking his protective cup and rupturing a testicle.
2. Mike Bossy
Bossy retired at age 30 due to back problems, but the winger scored 573 goals and his .762 goals per game is still the highest mark in NHL history. Bryan Trottier passing to Bossy in the slot would result in a near automatic goal in the ’80s, with Bossy’s impossibly quick release a nightmare for goalies. Bossy stands 20th on the all-time goals list, but he’s one of only three players (Maurice Richard and Mario Lemieux) with more than 500 goals in less than 1,000 games played.
1. Brett Hull
The ‘Golden Brett’ could score in a variety of different ways, but the image of Hull, dropped down on one knee and stick raised in his follow-through is one of the most iconic in hockey history. He used that famed one-timer to score 86 goals in ’90-91, third-most in a single season behind Gretzky. Only The Great One and Mr. Hockey have more than Hull’s 741 career goals.