NHL History: 30 best players in the 21st century (Updated 2023)

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Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images) /

30 best NHL players of the 21st century: 26. Teemu Selanne

This one was extremely hard to peg. Teemu Selanne was one of the most prolific scorers of the post-lockout era. However, some of his best seasons came before the turn of the century. He led the league in goals three times. They all came in the 90s, including his rookie year when he had a ridiculous 76 goals.

The start of this century went terribly for Selanne. He was traded from the Ducks (then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) to the San Jose Sharks. It seemed like he just lost his scoring touch. In two and a half seasons for the other California team, he was never able to hit 30 goals. He left to join Paul Kariya in Colorado, and that went worse. He scored a mere 16 goals in 78 games. It looked like it was the beginning of the end.

Then, Selanne returned to Anaheim. It was the second chance his career needed. He immediately scored 40 goals in the first year post-lockout. He then put up back-to-back 90-point seasons. Selanne dealt with a few injuries, but he was able to put up 80 points in his 40-year-old season. Selanne deserves to get some extra props for how he was able to beat Father Time. People talk about Tom Brady playing until he was 43, but Selanne also played past his 43rd birthday.

He returned to help bring the Ducks the Stanley Cup, which was always the best ending for Selanne’s career. He seemed to be the man who never wanted to leave the game. He was a fan favorite, and he’s someone who resurrected a career that was on the cusp of falling off. There aren’t many people around hockey who have a bad thing to say about Teemu Selanne.