In today’s NHL, speed dominates. No longer can teams roster slow, hulking defensemen capable of obstructing opponents into submission. But, if a player has speed and size, they can be lethal.
According to Hockey-Graphs, the average NHLer stands six-foot-one and weighs 201 pounds (as of the 2014-15 season). When compared to the average NHL player of the 1944-45 season – five-foot-ten, 174 pounds – it appears that NHL teams have been giving their players the Captain America Super-Soldier Serum.
Today, imposing players like Alex Ovechkin, Brent Burns, and Evgeni Malkin prevail. They are not the largest NHL players, though. Let’s take a look at the seven of the biggest players in the NHL today based on body mass index (BMI).
Zdeno Chara (26.8)
Weight: 250 lbs
It’s no surprise that gigantic Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara appears on this list – he’s the tallest NHL player in the game. Standing at six-foot-nine, Chara is an imposing figure for forwards entering the Bruins’ zone, even at 40 years old.
Before Burns became the NHL’s version of Chewbacca, Chara did a great impression of the massive wookie’s cry when lifting the Stanley Cup for the first time back in 2011:
Brian Boyle (28.3)
Weight: 245 lbs
The 2017-18 NHL All-Star is known for his large frame and big personality – the latter of which was recognized by fans in Tampa Bay when the former Lightning center returned for the skills competition and All-Star Game. Boyle combines his size with speed to be a versatile forward for the New Jersey Devils, where he plays on the penalty kill and sometimes in front of the net on the power play.
Jamie Oleksiak (28.7)
Weight: 255 lbs
Now in Pittsburgh, Jamie Oleksiak patrols the blue line for the Penguins. “Patrols” is the key word here, as Oleksiak towers over most forwards. You may recognize his last name as well – Oleksiak’s sister, Penny, competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and brought home a silver and two bronze medals for Canada.
Robin Lehner (29.1)
Weight: 239 lbs
Buffalo’s goalie resembles the Michelin Man with his gear strapped on. Robin Lehner also brings back memories of an old Amstel Light ad featuring a hefty goalie.
In all fairness, Lehner is not a fat goalie like the netminder from the commercial but he is the largest in the NHL in terms of BMI. However, Lehner is able to move around the crease swiftly, going against the stereotype that “big goalies can’t move.”
Chris Stewart (29.1)
Weight: 239 lbs
At the same size as Lehner, Chris Stewart is the strong man of the Minnesota Wild forward bunch. Last season, Stewart led the Wild in penalty minutes (94 PIM) by a sizable margin – Matthew Dumba is second with only 59 PIM.
Alex Ovechkin (29.9)
Weight: 239 lbs
A true power forward, Alex Ovechkin has taken the NHL by storm since first appearing as a 20-year-old in 2005. With six Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophies to his name, Ovechkin has already topped 500 goals and 1,000 points in his career. Despite qualifying as “overweight” on the BMI scale, the Russian forward is among the best and biggest players in the NHL today.
Dustin Byfuglien (30.8)
Weight: 260 lbs
After being the only large player to qualify as “obese” on the BMI scale, Dustin Byfuglien is officially the biggest player in the NHL. “Big Buff” gained notoriety around the NHL as an immovable force when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks and helped lead his team to the 2009-10 Stanley Cup.
Now in Winnipeg, Byfuglien is a fan-favorite for his thunderous hits and slap shots from the point. Byfuglien can skate as well – he frequently joins the rush up ice and contributes to the offensive game.
Stats provided by NHL.com.