For the most part, professional athletes are large, athletic human beings. Although you can see smaller individuals in sports that are not as physically demanding, for the most part, to be successful as a professional athlete, you will need to be above average in terms of size.
However, in this post, I will talk about players in the NHL who are not only large in terms of the average human being but tower over most of the league.
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What is the average size of an NHL player?
The typical size of an NHL player is 6'1 to 6'3 and weighs anywhere from 200-210 pounds. Players much smaller than this excel in the NHL today, like Columbus Blue Jackets forward Johnny Gaudreau. However, they are few and far between.
Most players will need to be at this size or larger to not have to beat the odds extensively to crack the league. Typically, the more skill you have, the more you can use it to compensate for your lack of size.
Size is often looked for in the NHL playoffs as well, when the physicality gets ramped up. Although it's becoming less prominent now, enforcers in hockey are stilled used today to intimidate and physically play an opposing team.
The criteria for this list of the NHL’s biggest players
To have made this list, I'm going to select players who have a relatively consistent history in the National Hockey League. Some towering rookies entered the league last season. However, I'd like to see them put in a few years of full-time play before considering them mainstay NHLers.
With that said, let's jump into the biggest players in the league today. The list below will go from largest to tenth largest.
In terms of "size", I used a combination of both height and weight.
And one final note, I did not include goalies in this list. Goalies are typically much larger than the average hockey players, particularly at the NHL level. This is because the league has gravitated towards larger goaltenders who can cover the next better. If I were to list goalies on this list, it would be 90% of the choices.
Who are the NHL’s biggest players?
- Tyler Myers
- Logan Stanley
- Jamie Oleksiak
- Victor Hedman
- Nikita Zadorov
- Owen Power
- Aliaksei Protas
- Kevin Bahl
- Alexey Toropchenko
- Milan Lucic
- Alex Ovechkin
At 6 foot 8 inches (203 cm), Myers is one of the tallest players in the NHL. In his earlier days, Myers was touted for his size, skating skill, and offensive abilities. However, throughout the latter part of his career, his offence has dried up, and he's more of a stay-at-home defenseman.
Myers was a Calder Trophy winner in the 2009-2010 season, racking up 48 points in his rookie season, one of the highest-scoring seasons by a rookie in recent history.
Besides being 6 foot 8 inches, Myers is also a heavyweight, weighing over 230 pounds. He is noticeable on the ice, that's for sure.
He is currently playing for the Vancouver Canucks. However, he was originally selected by the Buffalo Sabres, 12th overall in the 2008 draft. He was traded to Winnipeg in 2015, played out his contract there, and signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks in 2019.
Although Logan Stanley is an inch shorter than Myers, coming in at 6 foot 7 inches, he is much larger in total weight, coming in at 245 pounds. You will not get much offence from a defenseman like Stanley, having scored just one goal in each of his past NHL seasons. However, you will get a bruising defenseman who can defend and punish opposing players.
For this reason, he was a first-round draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 draft, being selected 18th overall.
Having scored 42 points in his final OHL season with the Kitchener Rangers, there is still some possible offensive upside to Stanley that we have not seen yet. He's only 25 and should have a few years left in development.
Overall, his sheer size and ability to defend should result in him having a long-standing career in the National Hockey League as a bottom-pairing defenseman.
Jamie Oleksiak is one of the longest-standing defenseman in the NHL in terms of size. He's been in the NHL for over a decade, playing his first season in 2012-2013. He was a high-pedigree prospect, drafted 14th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Oleksiak weighs in at 256 pounds and is 6 foot 7 inches tall. When writing this article, he is the largest defenseman in the NHL regarding weight, and it's not even close. Nikita Zadorov, another player on this list, is the next largest in weight at 248 pounds.
Oleksiak is not known for his offensive prowess, and considering his size, it's not surprising he's a bit sluggish on his feet. As a result, he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and claimed by the Seattle Kraken, which he currently plays on.
But make no mistake, he's an excellent defender and has shown the ability to play middle-pairing minutes as a defenseman effectively and consistently.
Victor Hedman is the first player on this list of the largest NHL players that is a premier player in the league and arguably one of the best defensemen today. He is 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighs 243 pounds.
While the offence has been limited with the largest players in the league above Hedman on this list, Hedman is one of the best offensive defensemen. You will routinely see him put up 50-point seasons, even cracking the 70 and 80-point marks in the past.
He was selected 2nd overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009 and has arguably become the best player out of that draft. He has led Tampa Bay to numerous Stanley Cups, and even into his 30s, is routinely playing 25 minutes or more a night and could still be labelled the best defenseman in the NHL.
Nikita Zadorov is another towering defenseman selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. He was picked 16th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2013 draft, primarily due to his physical stature and ability to put up some points in the process.
He is 6 foot 6 inches tall and is the second largest player on this list in terms of weight, weighing 248 pounds.
He has become a bruising defenseman over the years, capable of logging middle-pairing minutes, putting up some points, and racking up many penalty minutes. He's an intimidating force on the back end, which has propelled him to a relatively long and consistent NHL career.
He has been on several NHL teams over his career, playing for the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, and now Calgary Flames.
Owen Power is an up-and-coming star in the National Hockey League. Coming in at 6 foot 6 inches tall and 220 pounds, he is large, but not so large that it impacts his ability to skate. As a result, he is expected to become an all-star defenseman with significant offensive capabilities as he matures.
He was selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft after having an outstanding final season at the University of Michigan. He would put up impressive rookie numbers in Buffalo, finishing the season with 35 points in 79 games during his rookie season.
It will be interesting to see Power progress through his NHL career. However, there is no doubt he will likely remain on this list as one of the NHL's biggest players for the foreseeable future. as I'd expect him to put on more weight as he matures.
Aliaksei Protas is very different from the first five players on this list in a few ways. For one, he is the first player to appear on this list that is not a defenseman. This makes sense, as defensemen are preferred for their size more than a forward and can often survive in the league based on sheer size alone over a forward who, for the most part, has to contribute offensively in some way.
And secondly, he is also the first player on this list not to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Protas was taken in the third round by the Washington Capitals in 2019. He broke into the league in 2021-2022 and has only seen his role on the Capitals as a checking line centre increase.
Protas has extensive offensive ability in the Western Hockey League, scoring 80 points in 58 games during his final season. However, that offensive prowess has not translated to the NHL yet. But with him being relatively young, he still has plenty of time to do so.
Heading back to defenseman, Kevin Bahl comes in at 6 foot 6 inches and weighs 230 pounds. He was drafted in the second round by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018 draft but never suited up for a game with them.
Instead, he was involved in a blockbuster deal that sent Taylor Hall to the Coyotes and Bahl, plus numerous other players, to the New Jersey Devils. He would be periodically in and out of the lineup over the next few years, having his breakout rookie season in 2022-2023.
Bahl is known for his intense physical play and ability to win puck battles in the corners and in front of the net. He is unlikely ever to be an offensive force in the NHL. Still, by the looks of it, he is developing into an outstanding middle-pairing defenseman and one of the largest defensemen in the league at that.
Back to forwards, Alexey Toropchenko is a right winger playing for the St Louis Blues. He comes in at 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 222 pounds. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL entry draft by the St Louis Blues.
Toropchenko's career is just starting, and he has routinely split time between St Louis and their AHL team, the Springfield Thunderbirds. However, considering his size, physicality, and ability to play a power-forward role, he will likely establish himself as a middle to lower-level forward in the National Hockey League for years to come.
Milan Lucic has a storied history in the NHL. Considering the fact his NHL career is nearing an end, I was considering not listing him at all. However, there is no doubt he is still one of the largest players in the NHL and has been for the entirety of his career. Here is a video below of his best fights in the league.
Milan Lucic is only 6 foot 3 inches tall, but weighing in at 240 pounds, he's one of the heavier players on this list. He is one of the best fighters in the National Hockey League throughout his career. Although he doesn't engage much in his latter years, he was a force in his earlier years, especially during multiple runs to the Stanley Cup Final by the Boston Bruins.
During his later years, he would play a single season for the Los Angeles Kings before signing a blockbuster deal with the Edmonton Oilers to play alongside superstar Connor McDavid, only to be dealt to the Calgary Flames a few years into the deal.
Very likely to go down as the greatest goal scorer of all time (yes, better than Gretzky), Alex Ovechkin also has the benefit of being a massive man. Coming in at 6 foot 3, 238 pounds, he is the same size as a Milan Lucic, yet much more talented. He was won three Hart trophies, which is the MVP of the NHL during the regular season, and had a fierce rivalry with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins for quite some time.
Initially drafted by the Washington Capitals first overall in 2004, Ovechkin is well on his way to beating Wayne Gretzky's goal-scoring record. Although he likely won't do it next year, the year after is almost certain as long as Ovechkin stays healthy. At the time of writing, he needs just 72 goals to tie Wayne, and for a player who has scored at a 40 or more goal pace every single season of his 20+ year career besides one, it's a pretty safe bet he'll get there.
It is a rarity to have the size that Ovechkin does with talent, and Capitals fans have had the pleasure of watching him light the lamp for nearly 20 years.
Who is the largest player to ever play in the NHL?
Zdeno Chara is the largest player to ever play in the National Hockey League. He comes in at 6 foot 9 inches tall. He was so tall he had to have an exemption on the maximum stick length from the National Hockey League.
The New York Islanders drafted Chara in the third round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, and he is arguably one of the biggest draft steals in decades. He would go on to play 1680 games and accumulate 680 points. However, he wouldn't really hit his true potential with the Islanders. Instead, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a franchise level deal that included Alexei Yashin, where he really flourished.
During the prime of his career, he would often log 25+ minutes in ice time a night and 50+ points a season with the Boston Bruins. He had the hardest shot in the National Hockey League for a long duration of time.
He would lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011, 2013, and 2019, winning the cup with them in 2011.