Height is, undoubtedly, an advantage in professional hockey. Larger players pack more of a wallop in a game filled with violent checking and hand fighting (and, let’s face it, actual fighting, too).
A longer frame allows them to wind up and unload powerful slapshots — most of the games best shooters feature lankier builds. And tall goalies, while a bit less nimble, tend to take up more real estate when guarding the net.
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But short is good, too, on the ice. Smaller hockey players can often be more nimble skaters and their agility can be a fierce offensive weapon when deployed properly. There are some invaluable hockey players that are men of modest height.
The 15 Shortest NHL Players of All Time
Let’s get to the list, in no particular order…
1. Roy “Shrimp” Worters
While an NHL goal is only about four feet tall, it’s a lot wider than it appears on TV at a full six feet.
It’s no wonder that a large wingspan is often a prerequisite for playing goalie in pro hockey.
Just don’t tell that to Worters, the official smallest NHL player ever at only 5 feet 3 inches tall. He played goalie in the 1920’s and 30’s and, despite his height, was no flash in the pan.
Over nearly 500 games, “Shrimp” posted 66 shutouts and went to two All-Star Games. He currently resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a serious trailblazer at his position.
2. Nathan Gerbe
While Shrimp Worters had the benefit of playing in the fledgling NHL, Nathan Gerbe has no such luck.
At just 5’5”, he’s surrounded (as an active player!) by athletic marvels who absolutely dwarf him. You wouldn’t know it by watching his games though — he’s notorious for a ferocious playing style that more than makes up for his small stature.
Gerbe has enjoyed a lengthy pro hockey career, bouncing in and out of various NHL teams to the tune of nearly 400 games played and a career total 138 point.
3. Theo Fleury
Fleury played pro hockey for well over 20 years, including a lengthy run in the NHL as a right wing for the Calgary Flames.
He even dabbled in pro baseball!
At 5’6” and about 180 pounds, you might not expect Fleury to hold up well to multiple decades worth of abuse at the hands of larger players, but if so, you’d be underestimating him.
By the time he hung up his skates, Fleury had played in over 1,000 NHL games and racked up 455 goals, 633 assists, and a total of 1,088 career points. He even won a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989.
4. Darren Pang
The shortest goalie around since the days of Shrimp Worters, Pang definitely left his mark on the NHL when he played in the 1980’s.
Though his NHL career was relatively short-lived at just 81 games, Pang posted a respectable .882 save percentage at just 5’5” tall.
He even racked up 9 assists in his abbreviated career. Not bad for the second shortest goalie ever!
5. Robbie Moore
A short career for a short man, but a damn impactful one.
Moore is one of the shortest NHL goaltenders to ever play the game, sitting just behind Shrimp Worters and Darren Pang.
He only appeared in about five regular-season NHL games as a goalie, but in five tries he was able to author two shutouts, including his debut in 1979.
6. Gump Worsley
At 5’7” and about 180 pounds, Gump Worsley has the athletic profile of pretty much any random dude pulled off the street.
But when he was inside the net, the man played twice his size.
Worsley was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year in his debut season in 1952, and in addition to being one of the shortest goaltenders of all time, piled up four Stanley Cup wins and a Hall of Fame nod for his excellent work on the ice.
7. Yvan “Roadrunner” Cournoyer
Cournoyer was a total beast, not just overcoming his short stature but using it to its utmost advantage.
Known as a lightning fast skater and wickedly talented shooter and distributor, Cournoyer played in nearly 1,000 NHL games and racked up almost 900 total career points at his right wing position.
He also won 10 Stanley Cups during an absolutely dominant stretch with the Montreal Canadiens and currently resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
8. Henri Richard
For “Roadrunner” Cournoyer to win 10 Stanley Cups is no easy feat, so you know he had to be surrounded by some amazing teammates.
Let’s meet one of them: Henri Richard, and another one of the best short NHL players of all time.
Richard and Cournoyer played together on the Canadiens for a period of time, but Richard was lucky enough to win a whopping 11 Stanley Cups — the most any single player has ever won.
At just 5’7” and a slight 160 pounds, Richard was no coattail rider — the man posted 1,000 total points over a long career and earned his spot in the Hall of Fame.
9. Brian Gionta
Another dynamic five-seven-er, Gionta had a long and fruitful career in the NHL, spending most of his years with the New Jersey Devil and Montreal Canadiens.
He even proudly represented the United States on the 2018 Olympic team, where the U.S. ultimately lost to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
He retired after the 2017 season after playing in over 1,000 games and totaling nearly 600 points at right wing — a more-than-respectable career considering most of his opponents had at least six inches and 20 pounds on him.
10. Alex Debrincat
A serious up-and-comer, Debrincat is one of the shortest NHL players in the league today — though that’s not the only reason to keep your eye on him.
Despite giving up serious inches and pounds to his teammates and opponents, Debrincat is generating a ton of excitement at right wing for the Chicago Blackhawks.
In his first two years in the league, he’s averaging over 60 points per season and has an even brighter future ahead of him.
11. Marcel Dionne
You know you’re legit when the NHL can’t stop telling you how awesome you are.
That’s exactly the case for Marcel Dionne, the unassuming 5’8” centre who spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Kings.
After a more than 1,300 game career and almost 2,000 total points, Dionne was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame. After that, he was named one of the 100 greatest NHL players in history (regardless of height!) by the league itself to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Can’t ask for a more decorated career than that, especially for an “undersized” player.
12. Ted Lindsay
Speaking of the 100 greatest NHL players of all time, here’s another one:
Ted Lindsay, the 5’8”, 163 pound left wing.
His career totals would be impressive for a man of any size: Over 1,000 games played and 851 career points accrued.
But his legacy off the ice is just as important, considering he helped form the first iteration of the NHL players union, fought for fair wages and contract practices for players, and even served as a general manager for a time.
13. Martin St. Louis
The NHL is evolving, and it seems that more undersized players are getting a fair shake and being drafted according to talent, not just size.
That, unfortunately, wasn’t the case when Martin St. Louis came into the league. The 5’8” right wing came into the league undrafted, in part due to his less-than-ideal height.
But he ended up getting the last laugh, playing in the NHL for 20 years, appearing in over 1,100 games, scoring over 1,000 career points, and earning a Hall of Fame spot when all was said and done.
He’s also one of the few players ever to win the league MVP Hart Memorial Trophy and win a Stanley Cup in the same season.
14. Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion
Though not an ideal hockey specimen, at least according to his height, Geoffrion authored a memorable career in a number of ways.
Constantly overlooked due to his un-imposing size, Geoffrion fought for respect his entire career. When he wasn’t leading the entire league in scoring, he was beating the crap out of anyone who stood in his way — breaking his own nose half a dozen times.
Geoffrion is also credited with helping to innovate what we now know as the slapshot. All in all, he played for 16 years in the NHL, posted a whopping 822 career points, and won six Stanley Cups.
15. Brad Marchand
Marchand belongs on the list of the shortest NHL players ever, a list of the current best players in the league, a list of the best players of the past decade, and any other list you could possibly think of.
He’s just that good, despite standing a good four inches shorter than his average opponent.
One of the best and toughest players in the NHL for some time now, Marchand’s star is far from burning out. He’s played in nearly 700 games to date and has posted almost 600 points.
Hockey is a unique sport. It’s not completely dominated by larger specimens the way football and basketball are, but height still has plenty of advantages on the ice.
Being well above six-feet-tall helps players generate more power on slapshots and gives them extra reach in a game of inches.
But there’s more than enough room for shorter players to have an impact. In fact, tons of Hall of Famers and top-100 players of all time have been undersized!
Who did we miss? Who are the best hockey players of all time under 5’10”? Let us know in the comments!