Captain Obvious: 15 NHL Players Who Should Be Team Captain (But Never Will Be)
There is no greater individual honour for a hockey player to be granted the opportunity to be an NHL captain. Some of the greatest hockey players in the history of the league have had the chance to be a captain, while others sadly were not due to certain situations. When a hockey team is dominant in this league, it is normally because they have at least two legitimate superstars on their roster and sometimes, even more. This fact has created the sad reality that not every superstar in the NHL will be a captain by the time their NHL careers are completed. For example, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Bobby Orr, never was a captain. This is just one huge example of many.
With all that stated thus far, in this article we will be looking at fifteen deserving NHL players who should be captains, but likely never will be. Every player on this list is a very talented player in the NHL and has left a significant impact on the game, even if they are still very young. When looking at these players, it is quite easy to understand why they have set so many personal accomplishments in their careers thus far. They are truly superstars, but sadly for them, they will most likely never be captains unless something drastically changes in a short amount of time. However, at the end of the day, their legacies will not be tarnished because of this fact.
Nonetheless, let’s look at fifteen NHL players who deserve to be captains, but won’t ever be!
15 Nicklas Backstrom
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The Washington Capitals have their captain for many more seasons with Alex Ovechkin leading the charge. There is no question that Ovechkin deserves the honour because he is the best natural goal scoring talent of this generation and is showing this year that he can in fact win the postseason. Ovechkin’s scoring ability is so outstanding that he very well is on pace to catch Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal scoring record. However, it is important to note that Ovechkin has a lot of talent around him, especially with playmaker Nicklas Backstrom. A lot of his success is due to having this star next to him.
Nicklas Backstrom has developed into one of the most underrated playmakers in the game, but consistently produces at an outstanding level. Backstrom has been through all of the struggles with this championship leveled roster, so one has to determine that he could very well be a captain at the NHL level. Backstrom is an elite leveled centerman who has fantastic leadership and now is a seasoned veteran. Due to the fact that Backstrom is locked up long-term and he loves Washington immensely, he will never be a captain in the NHL, even though it is quite apparent that he deserves to be.
14 Brad Marchand
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Brad Marchand has not only grown into the most disliked player in the entire NHL, but an elite level forward. Over the past few seasons, Marchand has seen himself develop from a tenacious top-six winger, to a legitimate top-ten talent in the entire league. His goal scoring ability has grown immensely and he likely will hit the 40-goal feat next season if he is to stay healthy. However, Marchand’s accomplishments over the past few seasons are often overlooked because of the fact that he has been extremely disrespectful on the ice. Case in point: licking Ryan Callahan’s face.
If Brad Marchand continues to play at this pace, there is absolutely no question that he is worthy to be a captain due to his skill.
Marchand also has won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011, so he has a lot of postseason experience with that season alone. However, sadly for Marchand, he is third in line to become captain. With Zdeno Chara coming back next season to the Bruins, he will inevitably be their captain next season. Once Chara retires, there is no way that the Bruins would give Marchand the captaincy over lifetime Bruin, Patrice Bergeron. So with that said, his chances are slim to none.
13 Wayne Simmonds
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The Philadelphia Flyers made a great move when they traded Jeff Carter to bring in Wayne Simmonds as one of the pieces going back. At the time of the move, Simmonds was a bottom-six forward who had yet to find his offensive potential, but as the years passed by, he quickly became one of the Flyers’ core players. Simmonds now is a top-six forward in the NHL and because he also is a very effective power forward, he perfectly fits the style of the Philadelphia Flyers. With all of that being stated, he has also quickly become a fan favourite in the city.
Wayne Simmonds is a player who is captain material, but sadly for him, he will never have the chance to be the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers. With captain Claude Giroux locked up long-term with the Flyers and Simmonds set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, the chances are astronomically slim. In fact, Wayne Simmonds has been the subject of trade rumours for quite some time as well, so one has to assume that a move will be coming. With that being said, Simmonds will never be the captain of Flyers, but maybe could end up gaining a leadership role elsewhere.
12 P.K. Subban
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P.K. Subban has been an electric player in the NHL since he entered the league with the Montreal Canadiens. However, his personality clashed with the culture of the Montreal Canadiens, even though he donated millions to their hospitals. Due to this strange fact about his personality, the Canadiens ended up trading him to the Nashville Predators in the infamous move that landed them Shea Weber. Subban has since helped the Predators become legitimate contenders with his immense skill and very well should be able to land them a Stanley Cup by the time he stops playing there.
There is no question that P.K. Subban could be an excellent captain in the NHL, but with the Nashville Predators, he will never actually have the chance to do this.
Star defenseman Roman Josi has taken the role from former captain Mike Fisher and has done an excellent job thus far. There is no question that the Predators will be bringing back Josi to a very long-term deal when he his contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season, so Subban’s chances of ever actually taking over are extremely low. With that being stated, Subban will never be an NHL captain unless he signs elsewhere.
11 Tyler Seguin
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When the Boston Bruins obtained the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft from the Phil Kessel trade, they knew that they were going to land someone special. They decided to take centerman Tyler Seguin with the pick and this was a great choice. Although Seguin struggled in his first season with the Bruins, he had an excellent postseason and it led to the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup. From there, Seguin became an elite player and looked like he was going to be the future of the team. However, due to off-ice incidents, the Bruins stupidly traded him for a bag of pucks to the Dallas Stars.
With the Dallas Stars, Tyler Seguin has become even better and is now one of the best offensive players in the entire league. Although the Stars have not had much playoff success since acquiring Seguin, they are heading in the right direction and managed to score a franchise talent, while giving up virtually nothing. Seguin’s skill easily warrants him to be an NHL captain, but realistically, that will never happen with the Dallas Stars. Jamie Benn is their guy right now and is locked up for a fairly long time. With that being stated, Seguin will never be a captain unless he leaves Dallas.
10 Patrick Kane
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Patrick Kane is easily one of the greatest hockey players to ever come out of the United States and his individual accomplishments thus far has shown this. Kane is the first American player to ever win MVP of the NHL, has won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, and has been an all-star on numerous occasion. The Blackhawks were extremely lucky when they landed the first overall pick in the 2007 NHL ENtry Draft because this is the player that helped this team the most with their success. Kane is a top-ten talent in the NHL and will continue to be for years to come.
Although Patrick Kane is the face of the franchise, he has not been granted as their captain because of equally important, Jonathan Toews. Toews is more a leader type figure because of his work ethic and defensive ability on the ice. Although Kane will never be a captain with the Blackhawks, as both players signed identical deals with the same amount of term, he is a huge figure for them and would easily be the captain of any other NHL franchise if he had the opportunity. However, as it stands right now, Kane will actually never be an NHL captain unless he moves on.
9 Drew Doughty
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When the Los Angeles Kings drafted Drew Doughty with the 2nd overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, they knew that they were getting a franchise type defenseman. Doughty did not fail to prove this because he would go on to make the Canadian Olympic team in 2010 and quickly became one of the best young defensemen in the game today. With the Kings thus far, he has already helped this club win two Stanley Cups this decade and if the team plays their cards right with their inevitable retooling period, it is very likely that he could help them win even more.
The Los Angeles Kings were once captained by Dustin Brown, but with the sudden decline in his play, the team opted to give it to franchise centerman, Anze Kopitar. Kopitar is locked up for many more seasons with the Kings after signing his eight-year extension, so he will be wearing the captaincy for quite some time. With that being stated, Drew Doughty will never be the captain of the Los Angeles Kings because it simply does not fit within the timetable. Doughty is also a free agent after next season, so maybe he will decide to move on from Los Angeles to pursue a larger leadership role elsewhere.
8 Leon Draisaitl
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Leon Draisaitl has developed into a superstar in the NHL, but has kept a fairly low profile because he is under Connor McDavid’s legacy. However, after one rough season trying to develop as a rookie, Draisaitl has seen a massive increase in his offensive production and is developing into one of the best playmakers in the NHL. He is coming off back-to-back 70-point seasons and likely will be able to continue this feat as his career continues. In fact, it would not be surprising whatsoever if Draisaitl only improves his offensive productivity from here. Edmonton is very lucky.
Leon Draisaitl is a player who is quickly starting to possess leadership qualities and that is a great sign for the Edmonton Oilers. However, with the Oilers having Connor McDavid as their long-term superstar, there is no way that Leon Draisaitl will ever become more than just his sidekick. Like McDavid, Draisaitl signed a long-term contract that is set to keep with the team for a huge chunk of the next decade. If Draisaitl decides later on that he would like to move on from Edmonton and have the chance to become captain, then it’s a different story. However, with the Oilers, he will never be.
7 Nikita Kucherov
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When the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Nikita Kucherov, it was seen as a gamble pick because he was a scoring second rounder. However, as Kucherov progressed throughout the Lightning’s developmental system, it became apparent that they struck gold with the Russian winger. In four full seasons with the Lightning thus far, Kucherov has seen a massive increase in his point production each season. When looking at his season statistics this year, it is truly remarkable to witness that the youngster managed to register 100 points. There is a lot to look forward to with this franchise player.
Nikita Kucherov is going to develop into the face of the franchise with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it is going to take some time for that to occur.
Although he is legitimate superstar in the NHL and easily one of the game’s bests, you must keep in mind that the Lightning are full of talented stars. Captain Steven Stamkos is still fairly young as well and is locked up for six more seasons. With all of that being stated, the idea of Kucherov being captain is nice, but probably will never happen during this era. Stamkos is the long-term leader for the Lightning and will be until he retires.
6 Patrik Laine
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The Winnipeg Jets landed an absolute superstar when the drafted Patrik Laine with the second overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. There is no question that the Jets knew that they were going to land something special when they took Laine, but he has exceeded expectations already upon arriving into the NHL. In his first two seasons with the Jets, Laine has already scored 36 goals in his rookie year and a whopping 44 this season. Keep in mind that Laine is still only 20 years old and has time to develop even more. There is plenty to look forward to in Winnipeg with Laine and the rest of the young core.
Patrik Laine could very well become the next Alexander Ovechkin in the NHL and take over as the league’s best scorer. The Jets have a spectacular core of playmakers that will assist Laine into becoming this and this very well could result in the NHL’s next legitimate dynasty. When looking at the future of the Jets, it is very bright. The goal for the team is to keep Blake Wheeler once he hits the open market and I’d say they have a very solid chance. However, if things do not work out, the Jets’ management has openly said that they see Mark Scheifele is their future captain. That eliminates Laine’s chances later on.
5 Vladimir Tarasenko
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Vladimir Tarasenko is the offensive star on the St. Louis Blues and will be for quite some time. At age 26, Tarasenko is still a very young player and does not run the risk of falling out of his prime more many more seasons. However, if the Blues actually are aiming to be a successful franchise during his best seasons, they need to fill the holes that they have created by letting players like David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Kevin Shattenkirk go. They have a very solid prospect pool as on of now, so they need to ensure that their top prospects develop into their full potentials.
When looking at Vladimir Tarasenko’s individual accomplishments thus far, especially offensively, it is easy to deem him as being worthy of being an NHL captain. Tarasenko is one of the most electrifying players in the NHL when he is on his game and is a huge factor behind the success of the Blues. However, the possibility of him ever being the captain of the St. Louis Blues is astronomically low because of Alex Pietrangelo. Although Pietrangelo’ contract expires in 2020, there is absolutely no way that he will not be with the Blues long-term. He is the heart of the club and will continue to be.
4 Corey Perry
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Corey Perry may be declining a bit with the Anaheim Ducks, but that should not fool people into thinking that he is a bad player. Perry is still producing at a top-six forward level and could even return to his old form next season with a change in his line mates. Perry has been one of the top power forwards in the NHL for many seasons, so it will not be surprising whatsoever if he turns his underwhelming season around next year. Keep in mind, Perry is one of the main reasons why the Ducks ended up winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 and could even lead them to another one soon.
Corey Perry has been an excellent leader for the Anaheim Ducks as he has matured as a player and with that being stated, easily is deserving of being a captain. However, with captain Ryan Getzlaf locked up until 2021 and the likelihood of him extending his deal further extremely high, Perry will never end up being a captain at the NHL level. If Perry was still the 50-goal scorer he once was in his prime, then maybe he could land a captaincy position elsewhere. However, with Perry getting older and his skill diminishing, his best bet is to stay put in Anaheim until he hangs up the skates permanently.
3 Johnny Gaudreau
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Upon arriving with the Calgary Flames after a fantastic collegiate career with Boston College, Gaudreau has been a lethal scorer at the professional level. Although there have been times that his defensive game has been criticized, his overall ability as an NHL player is too high for negativity. Gaudreau’s arrival with the Calgary Flames has helped this team immensely and once they bring in some more offensive talent to assist him, they will find themselves back into the playoffs. Once this occurs, Gaudreau will finally hit his highest potential and help his legacy even more.
The Calgary Flames do have a bright future, but they need to bring in some star forwards for this to occur. Besides Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, this is a roster that lacks any star power up front. When looking at the leadership of this team, they have a great captain in Marc Giordano. However, with him getting older in age, his time as their captain will eventually come to a close. Sean Monahan seems to be the heir to the throne because of his leadership skills, so it appears that Gaudreau will never be the captain in Calgary. If he goes to a different team, he could help his chances though,
2 Mitch Marner
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When the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Mitch Marner with the fourth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, they knew that they were landing a good player for the future. However, there is absolutely no way that they could have predicted Marner developing in the way he has, both in skill and quickness. Marner is already a legitimate top-six winger in the NHL and has the potential to be a superstar for many more years to come. The Maple Leafs are extremely fortunate for taking Marner because they now have an even brighter future and could become a potential dynasty.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have so many offensive weapons who are very young that they look like a legitimate threat for years to come.
Once they figure out their defensive issues, this is going to be a hockey team that ends up having a lot of success in the present era. The Maple Leafs currently do not have a captain, but it is inevitably going to be given to their franchise youngster, Auston Matthews. Matthews has developed into a superstar in the NHL already and easily is the top player on this roster. With Matthews being so young, he is going to be the captain of this team for his entire career, so Marner will never have the C.
1 Evgeni Malkin
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Evgeni Malkin may be the greatest underrated player in the history of the league. In his career thus far, Malkin has helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win three Stanley Cups and has obtained an abundance of personal accomplishments in the process. However, what has truly impacted his legacy is the fact that he has spent the entirety of his NHL career being Sidney Crosby’s sidekick. However, it is important to note that there have been times where Malkin has had far better seasons than Crosby, but it barely goes on record. Perhaps the biggest snub of all of this is the fact that Malkin somehow was not listed on the 100 Greatest NHL Players Ever list.
Evgeni Malkin is without a doubt a future Hockey Hall of Famer and it appears that he is only getting better with age. Malkin will likely leave the NHL with at least one more Stanley Cup added to his resume as well because of the immense talent that the Pittsburgh Penguins have. However, when looking at his chances of ever being an NHL captain, his timetable has passed. Sidney Crosby will obviously be the captain of the Penguins until he retires, so Malkin will never be in Pittsburgh. However, Malkin could have been if he left the Penguins earlier, but now that he is older and teams are forming their core players, his chances are basically gone.
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