Tallest & Shortest: Ranking NHL Players by Height | LeoVegas

Tallest & Shortest: Ranking NHL Players by Height

Height plays a crucial role in professional sports. Contrary to what many believe, there are advantages and disadvantages to being exceptionally tall or smaller than average. This is especially true in the NHL, which is weighted towards taller players.

Players who exceed 6'3” can usually cover more ground with their larger frame. Their body and stick distance is more extensive, making them more effective in taking and retaining possession. Plus, they can often use their bigger frame as a shield to ward off smaller players.

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While it might be beneficial in certain positions, this is true across the board. Ice rinks provide a smaller, more confined play area compared to other professional sports, and the fact that players use skates to get around means they cover ground more quickly. Height, limb length, and mass are key factors and are often considered by NHL scouts when scouting players.

Larger players also tend to make better goalkeepers because they can use their bodies to cover a bigger section of the goal. In other sports like soccer, this isn't as true because of the size of the goal. A bigger player might be able to block 15-20% more of the goal than a player of average height, which indicates just how crucial it can be. In terms of average player height, NHL goalies are the tallest, clocking in on average at 6 '3".


Tallest NHL Players

When exploring players that stretch beyond the average height of 6’1”, you’ll see how our goalie point rings true. The truth is, defensive players and goalkeepers in other sports tend to be the tallest players on the field as well. Let's look at the top towering names in the NHL:

Dustin Byfuglien - 6'5" (196 cm)

Although Dustin was a versatile player and proved he had the skills to play more attacking positions, his real skill was across the defensive line. Despite retiring from the sport recently, Dustin is one of the tallest players ever featured at the highest level of professional North American ice hockey - so even in his retirement, we had to mention him. With Dustin's size, you'd think that coaches in his earlier years would have pushed him towards playing in net. However, he played both offence and defence throughout his career. His love of the game was on the rink, not stuck in goal, despite how much his frame would have been an advantage as a goaltender.

Jamie Oleksiak - 6'7" (201 cm)

Oleksiak is our first player to break the 200 cm barrier. At a staggering 6’7”, you'd expect to see a professional of such height play in the NBA rather than the NHL. However, the Seattle Kraken lefty is another player who uses his size advantage to command the defensive back line and his considerable reach to cover much more ground than the opposition. The Canadian has played defence for the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins throughout his career, often using his size to his advantage.

Brian Boyle - 6'7" (201 cm)

Another player who clocks in at 201 cm is Brian Boyle. He was part of the same draft as Byfuglien, and has recently retired from the sport. NHL fans will be more than aware of Boyle, especially post-career, where he is now a regular analyst. His height is clearly evident compared to other ex-players and analysts he sits with in the studio.

Boyle is unique in that he played centre. It is rare that a player of such height isn't used as a goalie or on the defensive line. However, despite being considered a forward position, there are still elements of defensive play, and that was where Boyle excelled. He was a competent forward and after battling through a serious illness, he now enjoys retirement with his family and resides in Massachusetts.

Tyler Myers - 6'8" (203 cm)

You don't earn the nickname "The Chaos Giraffe" if you aren't of considerable height. Tyler Myers is the second tallest player in NHL history. This Texan plays his trade north of the border for the Vancouver Canucks as a defenseman and has rightfully earned his nickname over the years.

Myers has earned several gold medals while playing for the Canadian national team. In his earlier formative years and as a senior player, he established himself as a competent defensive player in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres, Winnipeg Jets, and Vancouver Canucks. He also has a half-brother who plays in the NBA, highlighting the strength of the height gene throughout the Myers family tree.

Zdeno Chara - 6'9" (206 cm)

At a towering 6 '9, Chara is the tallest player to have graced the NHL. The colossal Slovak played two dozen seasons before calling it quits last year. Spending five years with the New York Islanders and another five with the Ottawa Senators in his early career, Zdeno made his name with the Boston Bruins, culminating in a Stanley Cup in 2011. The lefty defence player has had a decorated and colourful career, including a few controversial moments. No doubt it must have been imposing facing Chara and trying to get the better of him physically.

Average Height NHL Players

Although height can go a long way, there are many top NHL players of average height too, including:

Patrick Kane - 5'10" (178 cm)

With average NHL players measuring up at 6'1”, Kane is much smaller than most of the opponents he faces. Kane is arguably the best example of size not being everything in the NHL, as he became the youngest player to score 1,000 points in the big leagues and the first American player to win the Hart Trophy.

Sidney Crosby - 5'11" (180 cm)

Like Kane, Crosby was a number one draft pick and has consistently impressed. With nine All-Star game appearances, three Stanley Cups, and as one of the first names on the 2010s All-Decade Team, Crosby is one of the best centre players of his generation.

Connor McDavid - 6'1" (185 cm)

McDavid is a man who needs no introduction for ice hockey fans. The frightening thing about McDavid is that he is only 26 and has many of his best years ahead of him. Many rank him alongside the likes of Sidney and even Wayne Gretzky. When all is said and done, McDavid might be the one who comes out as the best of them all.

Alexander Ovechkin - 6'3" (191 cm)

It might seem a reach to call a player who is 6 '3 of average height, however, Ovechkin is another stellar example of somebody who operates above and beyond the vast majority of his counterparts in the NHL. The Russian-born left winger sits only behind Gretzky in the number of goals he has scored, and some rank him as the best goalscorer in the history of the NHL because of his skill set.

Auston Matthews - 6'3" (191 cm)

Few players burst onto the scene like Matthews did when he netted four goals on his debut for the Maple Leafs. Six consecutive All-Star games later, he has shown exactly why he spurred headlines across the country upon his start in the NHL.

Shortest NHL Players

Finally, we have the players who make up the lower end of the height scale:

Johnny Gaudreau - 5'9" (175 cm)

The Columbus Blue Jackets man is renowned for being one of the most affable players in ice hockey. Having established himself at the Calgary Flames, the left-winger is almost always a guaranteed name on the All-Star team sheet due to his consistent excellent performances. He uses his height to his advantage, zipping in and out of the opposition. With multiple appearances for the US national team, he is a force to be reckoned with.

Cam Atkinson, Mats Zuccarello and Tyler Johnson - 5'8" (173 cm)

This trio of talented players has bucked the trend of smaller players being overlooked by the NHL. Tyler Johnson is the most notable of the three, having been actively overlooked due to his size, then later going on to silence his doubters and critics by winning successive Stanley Cups with Tampa Bay as well as making appearances in the All-Star game.

Cam Atkinson has been named twice to the All-Star team. Despite his small stature, he uses his agility, speed, and nimble balance to bamboozle defencemen and is a constant feature on the Philadelphia Flyers. Zuccarello makes up the final of the three 5 '8 players we're featuring today and is widely considered one of the top Scandinavian players to have graced the NHL. Not bad, considering many scouts wouldn't even give them the time of day due to their stature.

Alex DeBrincat - 5'7" (170 cm)

With a 40-goal season to his name, a call-up to the All-Star team last year, and the distinction of setting a college record for goals and points in his first season for the Erie Otters, DeBrincat is a sterling example of plugging away, working hard, and trusting in your ability. He inspires young players looking to make it to the big leagues, regardless of how many barriers people might put in place just because of your size.