The EA Sports’ NHL Alumni Teams have always felt like a work in progress, and for the most part, they’ve done a decent job in expanding the rosters over the years and most team’s top stars are accounted for. Though there are still quite a few notable figures still missing. It doesn’t feel like they added as many players in NHL23 as they did last season, but The return of Jaromir Jagr and the additions of Henrik Lundqvist and Daniel Alfredsson are certainly three big names added to the game. But there’s still a rather large star-studded group of legends that a patiently waiting for their induction into video game glory. We dove deeper than last year’s list to really round out many different franchise’s alumni depth.
2022 was a big year for when it came to retirements of some of the biggest names of our generation. Whether there is some kind of legal thing or weird Hall of Fame-like waiting period before they can be re-added to the game under the alumni category, it means that there are some legendary players currently missing from the series this year.
Ryan Getzlaf- 17-year veteran and Anaheim Ducks legend Ryan Getzlaf called it a career at the end of the 2021-22 season. The Ducks have a relatively stacked alumni team with only one other major name missing (we’ll get to that) so with Getzlaf officially missing from the game, he shoots to the top of the absent alumni in Anaheim.
Dustin Brown- LA Kings legend and former captain Dustin Brown hung up the skates after 18 years in the NHL. He played 1,296 games with the Kings and captained them to two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.
Patrick Marleau- The NHL games played leader officially announced his retirement in May of 2022, thus is nowhere to be found in NHL23. The Sharks have a fairly decent alumni team, but Marleau’s absence is arguably the most notable when it comes to franchise icons per team.
Duncan Keith- Four-time all-star and three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman officially retired after 17 years and became a member of the Oilers front office. He was one of the biggest pillars of the Blackhawks’ dynasty and should be added back ASAP.
Jason Spezza- Even though we’re many years removed from the peak of Spezza’s career, he is a 19-year NHL veteran and once upon a time a key member of the Ottawa Senators organization. Especially with the return of Daniel Alfredsson to the franchise, it’s be great to re-add Spezza as well. Do you think anybody has Dany Heatley’s number these days?
Samuel Morin- The greatest defenseman of all time was forced to call it a career thanks to multiple knee injuries. As you’ll see later in this piece, the Flyers alumni team is rather shallow on the blueline, so adding Morin back to the game would be nice, and make me personally happy, which is what really matters.
Phil Esposito– Esposito’s trophy case is big enough to take up a city block. With two Stanley Cups, five Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, a Lester B. Pearson Award, and a Lester Patrick Trophy under his belt as well as being a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Esposito had memorable stints with the Blackhawks, Bruins and Rangers during his 19-year NHL career, which is plenty of options to add him to the game.
Mike Bossy– The Islanders haven’t had many good things in their history, but Mike Bossy is one of them and he’s MIA from the game. Even though his career ended prematurely to back issues, he was still a key member of the Isles Cup teams from 1980 to 1983. Bossy still holds the goalscoring record for the Isles with 573 and is second in points with 1,126. Considering his recent passing in April 2022, giving his legacy a rebirth among a new generations of fans in video game form may be a great way to keep his memory alive.
Vincent Lecavalier– The Lightning have a fairly impressive Alumni team, but the biggest missing piece may be their biggest star. Lecavalier has been or is about to be passed in most offensive categories by Steven Stamkos, but that doesn’t take away from the accomplishments he led the Lightning through during their original glory days. Lecavalier’s partner in crime Martin St. Louis is on the Tampa alumni roster for the third straight year, but it’s time to virtually reunite one of the hottest scoring duos of all time.
Alexander Mogilny– To have somebody as important as Alexander Mogilny not included in the game just feels wrong. He was the first Soviet player to defect from Russia to play in the NHL, is a member of the triple gold club, a Stanley Cup champion and hold many firsts for Russian players in the NHL.
Sergei Fedorov– Speaking of important Russians, one of the best two-way players of all time is once again not represented in the video game. The six-time all-star has one Hart Trophy, two Selke Trophy, Three Stanley Cups and 1,179 points to his name. Even though the Red Wings are well represented, the noticeable absence on Fedorov is still annoying.
Pavel Datsyuk– The Magic Man has officially retired from professional hockey both in the States and in Russia, so there’s no longer an active excuse for his absence from the series. Typically they’d usually sneak a player like Datsyuk in on the Russian national team, but for the third year in a row, that isn’t the case.
Henrik Zetterberg- Datsyuk’s partner in crime during the heyday of their 2000’s Cup team Henrik Zetterberg is also noticeably absent from the game. The 17-year NHL vet has been retired for three seasons now due to back injuries, but his contract ran out at the end of 2021, so he is no longer in the regular game. During his last season in the NHL, he passed Fedorov for fifth place in points in Red Wings history.
Paul Kariya– In terms of star power ratio per team, the Ducks may be one of the best equipped alumni squads, but there’s somehow still one big name missing. Paul Kariya was one of the OG superstars in the Mighty Ducks franchise. He racked up 300 goals and 669 points in 606 games over nine years in Anaheim.
Patrik Elias– The Devils alumni team gained a big name in Martin Brodeur a few years back, but one of their most memorable forwards is still missing. Elias owns a dozen Devils records including career points, goals, assists, hat tricks, and playoff points. The 20-year vet has been absent from the NHL series for seven years now and it’s time to reintroduce him to the series.
Peter Bondra– Before there was Alex Ovechkin in Washington, there was Peter Bondra. He was the man holding the scoring titles before the Great 8 showed up. With 472 goals, 353 assists, and 825 points, that’s good enough for second, ninth, and third in Caps history.
David Legwand- Be honest, when you think about Nashville Predators alumni, does anybody else but David Legwand come to your mind? The Preds alumni roster is still pretty thin, and Legwand’s absence is a big reason for that. He currently holds or previously held pretty much every record there is to hold in Nashville.
Bobby Hull- His son Brett is in NHL22, so let’s add the OG Hull to the series as well. His career spanned 16 seasons in the NHL, as well as seven years in the WHA. “The Golden Jet” was ahead of his time with his speed and shooting ability which helped him secure three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, and a Stanley Cup.
Ron Francis- These days, Ron Francis spends his days being a horrible general manager, but back in the day, he was pretty good at this hockey thing. He played 1,731 NHL games, which if fifth all-time and was over a point-per-game in his career with a whopping 1,798, which is also good for fifth all-time. He basically holds every franchise record in Hartford Whalers history and within the top ten in most Carolina Hurricanes stats as well. How his he not in the game?
Kevin Dineen- If you’re gonna put a Hartford Whalers alumni team into the game, missing Kevin Dineen is a pretty big blunder. He’s second all-time behind Francis in games played (587), goals (235), and points (503). Not to mention his 480 other NHL games split between Philadelphia, Columbus and Ottawa.
Marian Gaborik- Gaborik’s playing career actually came to an end in 2018 after a back injury, but he was under contract until 2021, so he was still available in the game on whichever team owned his rights at the time. Now that it’s been a few years since he officially retired, it’s time to put his younger, healthier self back into the franchise.
Marian Hossa- Much like Gaborik, Hossa hasn’t played since 2017 but his contract carried him to 2021, so he was often in the game somewhere. He’s a five-time all-star and three time Stanley Cup champion as well as a Hockey Hall of Famer and is about to have his number 81 retired by the Blackhawks. He may not be on the tippy top tier of the greatest players of all time list, but his 1,134 points in 1,309 NHL games deserve a spot in the video game.
Patrick Sharp- Sharp was a three-time Stanley Cup champion, Olympic gold medalist, and despite falling just short of the 1,000 game mark, he did register 620 points in the NHL. He may not be quite as high profile as some other names on this list, but he played a big part of a high profile team and it’s about time his stupid sexy face is back in the game.
Mikael Renberg- Is Mikael Renberg the greatest player that ever lived? No. Does he represent one-third of one of the most feared lines of all time? Yes. With Eric Lindros and John LeClair already in the game, it’s time to add Renberg and let the Legion of Doom ride again!
Mike Richards– It’s been long enough, it’s time to add Mike Richards back into the game. Yeah, he didn’t have the most graceful exit from the league, but he did have a short-lived 39-game NHL return with the Caps after his fall from grace with the Kings, but he is still a two-time Stanley Cup champion and one of the bigger stars in recent history for the Philadelphia Flyers, whom he captained to a Stanley Cup Final in 2010. Add him back in before Jeff Carter calls it a career and then they’re both missing from the game.
Bobby Orr– where do we even start with Orr? A Calder Trophy winner, an eight-time Norris Trophy winner, two-time Art Ross winner, eight-time all-star, three consecutive Hart Trophies, two-time Conn Smythe winner, two-time Stanley Cup winner, and about two dozen other awards and records to his name. What’s the hold up putting him in the game?
Scott Stevens– Let’s be honest, nobody likes Scott Stevens. But the impact he had during his NHL career, both good and bad, but that doesn’t mean his 22 NHL season and should go unnoticed. He played 1,635 games which is good enough for 10th place in NHL history and scored 908 points. Wouldn’t it be great to play as Eric Lindros and just wreck Stevens at any given opportunity?
Eric Desjardins– The Flyers haven’t exactly had many stars on the backend over the last few decades, but maybe their best is still no where to be found. Desjardins patrolled the blue line for a decade and is top-three in most stats for a defenseman in team history. He’s second in goals, assists, points, behind only Mark Howe (who is in the game) and third in game played by a Flyers defenseman.
Andrei Markov– When you can etch your name into the Canadien’s history books, you know you’re a special player. Markov sits second in game played for a defenseman, and sixth overall in Habs history. He’s tied for second in points for a defenseman with 572, numbers that another defenseman may never hit, as on P.K. Subban recently came close with 278.
Kimmo Timonen- Another notable Flyers defenseman missing from the game is Kimmo Timonen. He may not have the illustrious career or mile-long trophy case as other players on this list, but few players’ careers can be as consistent for as long as Timonen’s. He was a pillar defenseman for two different organizations in his career and should finally be enshrined in NHL video game lore.
Sandis Ozolinsh- Ozolinsh was a top defenseman in the NHL for 875 games with six different clubs. He won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche and was a Norris Trophy finalist in 1997. Today, Ozolinsh holds the goals, assists, points, and games played leader for a Latvian-born NHLer. He held the Avalanche record for goals and points by a defenseman until being supplanted by Tyson Barrie.
Niklas Kronwall- Kronwall has been retired since 2019, and remains possibly the biggest defenseman still missing from the Red Wings alumni team. His career spanned 15 years, all the with Red Wings, where he played just shy of 1,000 games and recorded a whopping 1,081 hits. I mean, show of hands, who hasn’t been itching to “kronwall” an opponent in a video game for years now?
Dion Phaneuf- It’s been a handful of years now since Phaneuf’s last NHL game and is certainly one of the biggest names of the most recent defensemen missing from NHL23. He’s a veteran of 1,039 NHL contests, captained the Toronto Maple Leafs for six years, and was a three-time all-star in the process. Phaneuf was even on the cover of NHL09, so it’s only right he gets put back into the game.
Dominik Hasek– The “Big Three” of NHL goaltending greats are Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Dominik Hask, but only the later of the three is missing from the game. The Dominator may very well be the best goalie of all time with two Stanley Cups, six Vezina Trophies and two Hart Trophies, and yet, no where to be found in the NHL series.
Miikka Kiprusoff– The list of all-time great Calgary Flames goaltenders is pretty slim, so the fact that Kiprusoff is still missing from the game is a bit baffling. He holds essentially every single record as the Flames’ goaltender including games played, wins, losses, save percentage, goals against average, shutouts, and minutes played.
Roberto Luongo– Bobby Luo has been retired for a few seasons now and we’re patiently waiting for him to return to the NHL series in the form of an alumni. The 20-year NHL veteran may not have a massive trophy collection, he’s second all-time in the NHL in games played by a goaltender with 1,044 games. He also holds various records for both the Canucks and Panthers organizations.
Olaf Kolzig– We already talked about the Caps missing Bondra, and they’re also missing their longtime franchise goalie as well. Kolzig played 711 games over 16 seasons with the Caps and still holds their records for wins, games played, saves, and shutouts.
Pekka Rinne– Now that we’re over a year removed since Pekka Rinne’s last NHL game and retirement, it’s time to start wondering where he is. As discussed in the Legwand entry, the Predators’ alumni team is rather shallow, and arguably the franchise’s biggest star still being M.I.A. isn’t great. His first game in Nashville was 2005, and played 683 games for the club over the following 15 years.
Tomas Vokoun– Before there was Pekka Rinne, Tomas Vokoun was patrolling the crease with the Nashville Predators. He is second in Predators’ history in quite literally every goaltending record behind Rinne. Adding them both to the game would cross two great eras for Preds fans.
Jose Theodore- One of the more underrated goaltenders missing from the alumni teams is longtime Canadiens’ netminder Jose Theodore. He has Vezina and Hart Trophies on his resumé and is still top five in most goaltending records in Montreal history, which is no easy feat.
Nikolai Khabibulin- The Bulin Wall was the first Russian goaltender to win the Stanley Cup and sits 25th all-time in games played and 17th in games played.
Cam Ward- The Hurricanes have a relatively thin alumni roster and one of their mount rushmore players are not in the game. Ward spent 13 seasons in Carolina where he hold virtually every goaltending record for the club, most by an obscenely wide margin. He carried the Hurricanes to their first and, so far, only Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2006, where he won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Ilya Bryzgalov– What’s Ilya Bryzgalov up to these days? His career from an on-ice perspective may have been nothing to write home about (though he did win a Stanley Cup in 2007 and was a runner-up for the Vezina in 2009) but his personality was larger than life, and considering the Flyers are still technically paying him for four more years, there’s no reason for him to not be in the game. Can he at least do commentary or something?
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By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: ea.com