The return of an NHL franchise to Winnipeg has been headline news in Canada for the past week. And although the team Manitoba’s capital is getting isn’t the same one that left in 1996, having the best hockey league on the planet back has stirred memories of the Jets organization that’s now in Phoenix.
With that in mind, here are THN’s picks for the top 10 Jets of all-time.
10. Paul MacLean
In seven years as a Jet, MacLean scored fewer than 30 goals in a season just once and that was when he played only 69 games (and scored 27) in 1985-86. He also had three 40-goal campaigns and will be remembered as one of the most offensively skilled Jets wingers ever.
9. Dave Babych
The 19-season veteran D-man began his NHL career in Winnipeg in 1980 and made an immediate impact with 38 assists and 44 points, following that up with a 61-assist performance in his third pro season. In 390 games as a Jet, Babych amassed 248 assists and 321 points.
8. Keith Tkachuk
One of just four American-born NHLers to score 500 goals, Tkachuk posted 28 goals and 51 points in his rookie year and 41 goals and 81 points in his sophomore season. His 50-goal season in 1995-96 was the team’s high point in its final season in Winnipeg.
7. Phil Housley
After spending his first eight NHL seasons in Buffalo, Housley came to the Jets in a blockbuster trade for Dale Hawerchuk in 1990. Although he played just three seasons in Winnipeg, Housley played in the All-Star Game in all three and averaged 65 assists and 86 points a year with the franchise.
6. Anders Hedberg
The native Swede was a major force for the Jets in the four years he was with the franchise (when it was still a part of the World Hockey Association). Hedberg had at least 50 goals and 100 points in each year, including a career-best 70-goal, 131-point campaign in 1976-77.
5. Ulf Nilsson
Nilsson spent the same four WHA seasons with the Jets as his countryman and linemate Hedberg and did just as much damage to the opposition while he was there. In Nilsson’s first year, he had 94 assists and never had fewer than 76 assists and 114 points in any season in Winnipeg.
4. Thomas Steen
Arguably the most beloved Jet ever, Steen played 950 games with the franchise and never wore a different NHL uniform. He amassed 817 points in 14 seasons in Winnipeg and had at least 30 assists in all but three of those years.
3. Teemu Selanne
Selanne ended his Jets career with 147 goals and 306 points in only 231 games, but will be most remembered in Winnipeg for his record-smashing 76-goal rookie season. Like Steen, he is utterly adored to this day by Winnipeggers.
2. Bobby Hull
One of the greatest offensive forces in hockey history, Hull scored 307 goals and 648 points for the Jets in 429 games, including a career-high 77 goals in 1974-75.
1. Dale Hawerchuk
Hawerchuk made an unforgettable first impression - under the pressure of being a No. 1 overall draft pick, no less - scoring 45 goals and 103 points in his rookie campaign of 1981-82 with the Jets. For the next eight seasons, he would shine brighter than any other Jets player, posting five 100-plus point seasons and becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 929 points.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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