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

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Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

30 best NHL players of the 21st century: 23. Joe Sakic

Joe Sakic is another player with his best years in the 90s, but he was undoubtedly great during this century. He won his only Hart Trophy in 2001 after putting up a 118-point season on his way to a Stanley Cup Championship. That season was one of the greatest of this era. His most memorable moment of the campaign is probably when he handed the Stanley Cup to Ray Bourque, who finally got a chance to be a champion after years of toiling in Boston.

Sakic’s career is largely underrated today. He’s not often talked about as one of the best of his era, but there’s no denying just how great he was. He was putting up 30 goals and 100 points all the way through his 37-year-old season in 2006-07. Only Gordie Howe had a 100-point season older than Sakic. In terms of greatness on the ice, it showed with his four top-ten Hart Trophy finishes in seven full seasons after the turn of the century (he was injured for most of his last two).

Sakic also helped Canada finally win the gold medal in hockey, beating the Americans on their home soil in 2002. He scored four points in the gold-medal game, securing the victory for the Great White North.

Sakic’s final years of his career were showered with accomplishments and accolades. He’s one of the most decorated players of this era, and he was one of the most feared when the puck was on his stick. One could argue he deserves to be higher on the list, but he needed just a little bit more time to get consideration over some of his peers.