Following last week’s blog on the Top-10 undersized players in the NHL these days, I decided to do the exact opposite and have a look at the NHL’s biggest and strongest NHL players who can dominate the game with their size advantage over smaller and lighter players.
These jumbo players have always received extra attention from the scouts during their junior and college years, but they haven’t always panned out as expected even if they were selected in the first round of their draft year. Everyone remembers Hugh “Huge” Jessiman (6’6”, 231 lb), drafted 12th overall by the Rangers in 200,3 who made his NHL debut only this season. He was supposed to become the Rangers’ next power forward, but that did not happen!
Now let’s have a look at the best oversized players in the NHL this season, who are all at least 6’5” and 200 lb. They can be dominant offensively, defensively and obviously physically.
1. ZDENO CHARA, BOSTON BRUINS
Vital statistics: 6’9″, 255 pounds
Whether you like him or not, the Slovakian tower has averaged 14 goals and 46 points per year since the lock-out in the Bruins’ blue line. During that span, Big Chara has also averaged 103 penalty minutes a season while distributing punishing hits almost every night. Just ask Max Pacioretty…
Chara, 34, has also been nominated a Norris Trophy finalist for the 2010-2011 campaign. He’s simply the kind of captain you want to build your team around.
2. CHRIS PRONGER, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Vital statistics: 6’6″, 220 pounds
Despite missing 32 games with a broken foot and a broken hand and recording his lowest offensive totals since 2002-03 with only 25 points, Pronger remains a physical force on the Flyers’ blue line. The veteran only played three playoff games this year and the Flyers were easily swept by the Bruins as a result. Playing over 22 minutes a game, the bruising defenseman can deliver hits, block shots and man the powerplay. He is a natural leader despite his critics.
3. DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN, ATLANTA THRASHERS
Vital statistics: 6’5″, 265 pounds
The winger turned defenseman had his best offensive season as a rearguard with the Thrashers, notching 20 goals and 33 assists for 53 points alongside Tobias Enstrom. Big Buff had a staggering 347 shots on goal in 2010-11 while playing more than 23 minutes per game. Byfuglien won a Stanley Cup with the Hawks last season after scoring 11 goals in 22 games by wreaking havoc in the opponent’s crease thanks to his big frame.
4. TYLER MYERS, BUFFALO SABRES
Vital statistics: 6’8″, 227 pounds
The sophomore Myers is not overly physical, but he uses his size to create space for his teammates. After a great rookie season during which he scored 11 goals and added 37 assists for 48 points, Myers struggled during the first part of the season finishing with 10 goals and 37 points. It will take a few more years for Myers to grow “into his frame” and become more efficient with and without the puck as he’s been prone to turnovers and bad positioning at times.
5. BRENT BURNS, MINNESOTA WILD
Vital statistics: 6’5″, 220 pounds
Coming off his best offensive season with the pea-shooting Wild, scoring 17 goals and adding 29 assists for 46 points, Burns has logged more than 25 minutes per game on a very thin defensive corps. Entering his prime at 26 year-old, the big rearguard is used in every possible way, whether it’s on the play, on the penalty kill, to protect a lead or initiate a comeback.
6. VICTOR HEDMAN, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Vital statistics: 6’6″, 230 pounds
Another sophomore, Hedman is maturing slowly and steadily into a very complete defenseman under the wing of fellow Swede, Mattias Ohlund. Hedman has improved his offensive numbers this season, notching 3 goals and 23 assists for 26 points, quite solid numbers for a blue liner who’s not mainly recognized for his offensive abilities. The 21 year-old has to improve his play on the road where he recorded only seven points and had a -8 plus/minus ratio.
7. HAL GILL, MONTREAL CANADIENS
Vital statistics: 6’7″, 240 pounds
The defensive specialist is one of the main reasons, rookie P.K. Subban was able to develop into a great young offensive defenseman. An excellent penalty killer, Gill is a calming presence in front of his net and in the dressing room. Deemed slower than a garbage truck by many, Gill has now played 994 career games in the NHL to go with a Stanley Cup ring, so he must be doing something right!
8. PAUL GAUSTAD, BUFFALO SABRES
Vital statistics: 6’5″, 212 pounds
Gaustad is not only a great forechecker and great bodychecker taking advantage of his large frame, he is also a good defensive player and great on face-offs. Gaustad is the ideal third-line center totaling 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points, while racking up 101 penalty minutes and getting 128 hits in 2010-11. He also managed to finish with a +7 rating.
9. GEORGE PARROS, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Vital statistics: 6’5″, 228 pounds
The only fighter making the list, Parros is one of the most feared enforcer in the NHL these days. The reliable winger has fought 27 times this season for the Ducks, racking up 171 penalty minutes. While he doesn’t post good offensive numbers, he can play a steady shift on your fourth line and gives a few extra inches to his teammates in the ice. Parros is not your common goon as he majored in Economics at Princeton University. Despite his tug look, he is definitely smarter than a 5th grader.
10. BRAYDON COBURN, PHILADEPLHIA FLYERS
Vital statistics: 6’5″, 220 pounds
Stolen from the Thrashers in exchange for overrated defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, Coburn has been a steady presence on the Flyers blue line over the last four years. Despite declining offensive numbers because of Andrej Meszaros’ arrival in the summer, Coburn managed to score 16 points with a +15 rating playing all 82 games in 2010-11. At the age of 26, Coburn can only get better and don’t be surprised if he rebounds offensively, especially if the team trades a rearguard to get help in goal.
Honorable mentions: Jason Arnott, Nikolai Antropov, Brian Boyle, Martin Hanzal, Jeff Schultz, Michael Rupp, Kurtis Foster, Blake Wheeler, Dainius Zubrus, Cody Franson, Anton Babchuk, David Steckel.
Think I missed someone or believe the above order is incorrect? Drop me a comment to express your opinion!
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About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com