10 Best NHL players to never win the Stanley Cup

Some of the most prominent pictures we hold in our heads are of the greats raising the Stanley Cup above their head – Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby, Ovechkin. But, not all the greats can win the Stanley Cup.

There are plenty of amazing players who never got their name etched on the Stanley Cup.

Here is a list of the top 10 players in NHL history to never raise Lord Stanley above their head.

1) Jarome Iginla

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Jarome Iginla came close to winning the Stanley Cup – the closest on this list. Iginla’s Flames lost in the 7th game of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 2-1. 

What hurts even more is that the Flames had a potential goal in Game 6 that would have given them a 3-2 lead with 6 minutes left, but the goal never got reviewed (even though most admit that it crossed the goal line).

Iginla is one of the best pure goal scorers of all-time. He had much international success, helping Canada win two Olympic Gold Medals. 

However, after the 2004 season he never came close to having a chance to win the Stanley Cup. 

Closest he came to the cup: Stanley Cup Finals with the Calgary Flames 2003-2004

Career Goals: All-time rank 15th with 625 goals

Career Points: All-time rank 34th with 1300

Career Stats

2) Marcel Dionne

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Marcel Dionne was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft with the 2nd overall pick. He played for four seasons with the Wings before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings, becoming the face of their franchise.

Dionne would set all kinds of records with the Kings, however playoff success was limited as he was never surrounded by the talent needed to win a championship. 

Dionne played 1554 regular season games, but only 49 playoff games. He only had one memorable playoff series, when his Kings defeated the young powerful Oilers in 1981-82 in the first round.

Closest he came to the cup: Dionne only ever made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs. 

Career Goals: All-time rank 5th with 731

Career Assists: All-time rank 11th with 1040 (just ahead of Lemieux and behind Gordie Howe)

Career Points: All-time rank 6th with 1771

Career Stats

3) Joe Thornton

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Joe Thornton is a former 1st overall NHL Entry Draft pick by the Boston Bruins in 1997. He played 8 years for the Bruins before he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. 

Thornton had the most team success with the San Jose Sharks when they made it to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 6 games. 

Thornton only has a year or two left in his NHL career, and will go down as one of the best passers in the history of the league. He won international championships with Canada, including a gold medal. However, it looks like the one thing that will elude him is the Stanley Cup.

Closest he came to the cup:  2015-16 Stanley Cup finals with the San Jose Sharks

Career Assists: All-time rank 7th with 1089

Career Points: All-time rank 14th with 1509

Career Stats

4) Adam Oates

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Adam Oates will always been known as one of the best pure passes that ever played in the NHL. While in St. Louis he created a formidable duo with Brett Hull. Oates would slide passes over to Hull who would one-time them in for a goal – it was a deadly combination.

St. Louis never had much playoff success with these two, but Oates did manage to make it to the Stanley Cup finals towards the end of his career with Washington. However, the Cinderella Capitals did not stand much of a chance against the mighty Red Wings and got easily beaten. 

Closest he came to the cup: Stanley Cup Finals in the 1997-98 season with the Washington Capitals

Career Assists: All time Rank 8th with 1089 assists

Career Points: All-time rank 17th with 1420 points

Career Stats

5) Dale Hawerchuk

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Dale Hawerchuk played on a team that was in the wrong division. Being on the Winnipeg Jets meant that Hawerchuk always had to go up against the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames in the playoffs during the 80s and 90s.

The Jets often had good teams, but they could not overcome the two Alberta powerhouses and were beaten in one of the first two-rounds of the playoffs. 

Hawerchuk got a chance at a Stanley Cup in the last year of his career when he played for the Philadelphia Flyers. They made it to the finals but lost to the Red Wings in 4 games. 

Closest to the Cup: 1997 Stanley Cup Finals with the Philadelphia Flyers

Career Assists: All-time Rank 21st with 518

Career Points: All-time rank 20th with 1409

Career Stats

6) Mats Sundin

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Sundin won many medals with Team Sweden in both the world championships and the Olympics. However, he was always short of talent around him on the Toronto Maple Leafs to give him a consistent shot at a Stanley Cup.

Sundin did make it to the Conference Finals with the Maple Leafs in 1998-99, but he was used to more missed playoffs or first round exits. If only he got a chance to stay with the team (Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche) that drafted him because he would have a couple of Stanley Cups to his name. 

Closest to the Cup: 1999 Conference Finals with the Toronto Maple Leafs

Career Goals: All-time rank 23th with 564 goals

Career Points: All-time rank 18th with 1349

Career Stats

7) Patrick Marleau

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If Patrick Marleau plays one more NHL season he will set the NHL record for most regular season games played. He currently sits fourth, just 44 games behind Gordie Howe.

His longevity during the regular season has not translated into longevity during the playoffs. Although he has been part of many talented San Jose Shark teams, they have failed to deliver in the playoffs. They did have one memorable run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2016, but lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Closest to the Cup: 2016 Stanley Cup Finals with the San Jose Sharks

Career Goals: All-time Rank 25th with 562


8) Mike Gartner

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Mike Gartner was known for two things: his blazing speed and his ability to score goals. Gartner would blow by his opponents on the way to racking up goals – year after year. For finishing 7th overall in all-time goals Gartner does not get the name recognition he deserves. 

Part of the reason for the lack of recognition is that Gartner did not get much team success. He played on mediocre or slightly above average teams his entire career including the Capitals, Rangers, Maple Leafs and Coyotes. 

Closest to the Cup: Conference Finals with the Toronto Maple Leafs 1993-94

Career Goals: All-time Rank 7th with 708 goals

Career Stats

9) Phil Housley

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Phil Housley was as a dynamic offensive-defensemen as you get. He would finish his career as the 4th highest scoring defensemen of all-time. 

In the prime of his career Housley played on average Sabres and Jets teams that would, at best, be first round playoff fodder. He did have a chance to go on a long playoff run with the Capitals in 1998, but would end up losing to the Red Wings in the Finals 

Closest to the Cup: 1998 Stanley Cup Finals with Washington Capitals

Career Goals: All-time rank 4th 338 goals (among defensemen)

Career Assists: All-time rank 5th 894 assists (among defensemen)

Career Points: All-time rank 4th 1274 Points (among defensemen)

Career Stats

10) Gilbert Perreault

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Gilbert Perreault was the 1st overall draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1970 NHL draft. He instantly became the face of the franchise and would end up playing his whole career for Buffalo. He was the under-appreciated superstar of the Sabres.

Buffalo was a good team early on in his career and even made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 1975, but were defeated by the Flyers. 

After that Buffalo had mediocre teams and would be forced to go through the juggernaut teams of the Canadiens, Bruins, Flyers or Islanders ever year in the playoffs. Perreault did not have enough talent on his team to be able to compete with those teams during his playing career.

Closest to the Cup: Stanley Cup Finals with Buffalo in 1974-75

Career Points: All-time rank 33rd with 1326 points

Career Stats

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