5 New Jersey Devils Legends Who Would Dominate Today’s NHL

20 Nov 1997: John Maclean #15 of the New Jersey Devils in action against Bryan McCabe #4 of the New York Islanders during a game at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Islanders 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport
20 Nov 1997: John Maclean #15 of the New Jersey Devils in action against Bryan McCabe #4 of the New York Islanders during a game at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Islanders 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport /
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New Jersey Devils legend Patrik Elias takes his last lap around the ice at the Prudential Center on April 8, 2017. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Patrik Elias takes his last lap around the ice at the Prudential Center. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Is it even possible to say enough about Patrik Elias? Elias shouldn’t even be on this list, but because the Hockey Hall of Fame voting is farcical at best, here we are.

Patrik Elias was one of the greatest defensive forwards at his peak and retired as the New Jersey Devils’ greatest forward ever. Drafted 51st overall in the second round of the 1994 NHL Draft, Elias became an NHL regular three years later at the age of 21.

Patrik Elias was too young to be a member of the New Jersey Devils’ 1995 team that won the Stanley Cup, but the mild-mannered Czech winger would be the Devils’ leading scorer on both the 2000 and 2003 Cup-winning teams.

Patrik Elias set pretty much every franchise record imaginable for the New Jersey Devils, including points in a season (96) that stood for 22 years until Jack Hughes broke it (99) this past season. Elias leads the Devils franchise in goals (408), assists (617), points (1,025), even-strength goals (279), power-play goals (113), game-winning goals (80), hat-tricks (8), and total on-ice goals for (1,316). In addition, Elias is third in games played (1,240), and tied for second in plus-minus with Scott Niedermayer (+172).

Patrik Elias achieved everything as a New Jersey Devil and reached the pinnacle of hockey twice. He did so whilst playing for a team that preached defense and as the best forward on his team. He even moved from wing to center full-time on multiple occasions in his 30s to better accommodate the team. Still, Elias never won a single individual award in his career to get the recognition he deserved.

In a league that has had a growing emphasis on playing a responsible game at both ends of the ice, it’s easy to see why Patrik Elias would dominate today’s NHL.

If Elias had, for example, Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt as linemates during his prime years, there’s little doubt he would go for 100 points or better. He had the shot, he had the creativity, and he most certainly had the hockey IQ. He even made Pavel Zacha look like a beast in his final NHL game.

In fact, Patrik Elias would slot into the current New Jersey Devils team perfectly. He was great on offense, but he was elite defensively. Perhaps the best of his era. After losing valuable penalty killers like Yegor Sharangovich and Jesper Boqvist, today’s Devils would probably love to have a player so good at both ends of the ice. Even in his late 30s, Patrik Elias was comfortably one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, despite the Devils being downright awful in the last few years of his career.

Bruce Driver, John MacLean, and Bobby Holik all played for the New York Rangers after leaving the New Jersey Devils, and their careers suffered for it. Patrik Elias nearly suffered the same fate in the summer of ’06, but the specialists-in-failure New York Rangers refused to insert a no-movement clause in Elias’ contract. As a result, Elias remained a Devil for the entirety of his career. Imagine how different things would be if Elias put pen to paper on July 1, 2006.