Average Height Of NHL Player (& Does Size Matter?)
Does the size matter is a popular question found on many topics. In this instance, it’s not what you think rather than whether players of different sizes achieve better results on average. In this article, we’re going to see the average height of NHL players, the shortest, tallest, and heaviest players of all time, a review on whether size matters in ice hockey, and more! Before that, let’s start with the average height.
The average height of NHL players is 6’1” (185cm). In contrast, the average American male is 5’9” (175cm), so NHL players are taller on average. Zdeno Chara is the tallest NHL player ever at 6’9” (205cm), and Roy Worters is the shortest at 5’3” (160cm).
The difference between the tallest and shortest NHL players is a whopping 1’9” (48cm), which would matter on the ice. Now, let’s take a closer look at players from the short and tall ends to see more players in the extreme ends.
Shortest NHL Players Ever
First, let’s review the shortest NHL players ever recorded. A fascinating note is that only one player has been 5’3”, and the next shortest player wasn’t 5’4”, but 5’5”. Learn the players below.
|1. Roy Worters||5’3” (160cm)|
|2. Nathan Gerbe||5’5” (165cm)|
|3. Robbie Moore||5’5” (165cm)|
|4. Darren Pang||5’6” (167cm)|
|5. Theo Fleury||5’6” (167cm)|
|6. Gump Worsley||5’7” (170cm)|
|7. Yvan Cournoyer||5’7” (170cm)|
|8. Henri Richard||5’7” (170cm)|
|9. Brian Gionta||5’7” (170cm)|
|10. Alex Debrincat||5’7” (170cm)|
Roy Worters is the shortest NHL player of all time, and he’s a Hall of Famer and a goaltender! You should know that his career was during 1925-1937, so such a short height in today’s NHL would present difficulties when competing.
Tallest NHL Players of All Time
After reviewing the shortest NHL players, this section wouldn’t be complete without examining the tallest players. See who are on the top 10 tallest NHL players, where only one has achieved the height of 6’9” (210cm)
|1. Zdeno Chára||6’9” (205cm)|
|2. Joe Finley||6’8” (203cm)|
|3. Andrej Sustr||6’8” (203cm)|
|4. Tyler Myers||6’8” (203cm)|
|5. John Scott||6’8” (203cm)|
|6. Derek Boogaard||6’7” (201cm)|
|7. Christopher Breen||6’7” (201cm)|
|8. Jamie Oleksiak||6’7” (201cm)|
|9. Hal Gill||6’7” (201cm)|
|10. Brian Boyle||6’7” (201cm)|
Again, there are many same height players in the tall section as there were the same height people in the short section. After all, we are humans, and our height doesn’t vary so much that everyone is of different heights.
In contrast to Roy Worters and his short height, who played during the 20s and 30s, Zdeno Chára is a Slovakian hockey player currently playing for the New York Islanders. In addition, he was the captain of the Boston Bruins for 14 years, so he’s definitely an amazing player, and the height counts towards it.
Heaviest NHL Players In History
Moving on from height to weight, the average NHL player weighs 204 lbs (92.5kg), which is slightly more than the average American male weight of 198 lbs (89.8kg), yet significantly more than the average Canadian male 187 lbs (84.6kg), for example.
From the data table below, you can see the heaviest NHL players of all time, Georges Larque being far ahead of the rest.
|1. Georges Laraque||280 lb (127kg)|
|2. Derek Boogaard||265 lb (120kg)|
|3. Nikita Tryamkin||265 lb (120kg)|
|4. Dustin Byfuglien||265 lb (120kg)|
|5. John Scott||260 lb (120kg)|
|6. Zdeno Chára||256 lb (116kg)|
|7. Jamie Oleksiak||250 lb (113kg)|
|8. Robin Lehner||250 lb (113kg)|
|9. Dustin Penner||247 lb (112kg)|
|10. Brandon Carlo||241 lb ( 109kg)|
When talking about the heaviest NHL players, especially Georges Larque, they usually are fighters, also called goons or defenders. In fact, Georges Larque, the heaviest NHL player of all time, was in the fourth hockey line famous for his rough fights.
Related: How Many Players On NHL Roster?
Does Height Matter In the NHL?
Now, after seeing all those players of different heights in the NHL, you might wonder whether height matters in the NHL.
Height doesn’t matter in the NHL or ice hockey in general. There is no correlation between tall or short teams and success in the league. However, short or tall height can give an advantage in hockey, yet stick handling mastery, game IQ, skating ability, and other skills determine a player’s success.
As an example, Krakenchronikles states that the New York Rangers was the most physical team in NHL during the 2021 season, and I agree. However, they didn’t reach the playoffs, canceling the idea that height is an undeniable advantage in hockey.
When looking at players at the hockey position level, advantages come in. Generally, tall players have an advantage as goalkeepers simply because they can cover more net. Still, the shortest player in the NHL history is a Hall of Famer goalie, so you can see that height isn’t the final say on success.
In addition, you will find more tall players as defensemen because they are more physical and can more easily make it difficult for the offense to advance. However, short players have an advantage over tall players in attacking positions, especially wingers, because they generally have more agility and are swifter with better stick handling abilities.
Here’s a list of some advantages short or tall height gives to hockey
Advantages of Short Height In Hockey
Being a short hockey player does have its benefits, such as;
- Short height and smaller mass mean a lower center of gravity, contributing to skating speed
- Being short makes it easier to be swift and agile, increasing skating skills
- A shorter height and stick length usually makes you better at stick handling
Advantages of Tall Height In Hockey
If you’re a tall hockey player, the following advantages are on your side;
- Being a big player makes it easier to play alongside the boards
- Tall players have longer limbs and hockey sticks, giving more reach
- Players with height can shoot harder as they have more muscle mass and leverage
Are NHL Players Bigger Now Than Before?
As I mentioned earlier, the shortest player in the NHL players during the 20s and 30s, whereas the tallest one at the moment in 2022 and has been a captain for 14 years, so there’s a pattern there you can see when looking at the extreme ends. However, when looking at the averages, are NHL players bigger now than before?
NHL players are much bigger now than before. In the 1920s, the average height was 69.5 inches, and the weight was 172 pounds. In contrast, in 2020, the average height is 73 inches, and the weight is 204 inches. Therefore, NHL players are bigger, especially heavier now than ever.
In addition to the size, players are much more skilled than before. If you think about it, it all makes sense. When the sport evolves, equipment improves, more people are interested, and the standard is forced to increase to find the best players possible.
Below you can find average heights and weights from the 1920s to this day and how they have evolved over the decades.
|Season||Average Height||Average Weight|
|1920-1921||69.5 in (176.5cm)||172.4 lb (78.2kg)|
|1930-1931||70 in (177.8cm)||171.9 lb (78kg)|
|1940-1941||70.6 in (179.3cm)||175.4 lb (79.5kg)|
|1950-1951||70.8 in (179.8cm)||175.5 lb (79.6kg)|
|1960-1961||70.9 in (180cm)||178.3 lb (80.8kg)|
|1970-1971||71.3 in (181.1cm)||184.2 lb (83.5kg)|
|1980-1981||72.1 in (183.1cm)||190.9 lb (86.6kg)|
|1990-1991||72.7 in (184.6cm)||199.0 lb (90.2kg)|
|2000-2001||73.2 in (185.9cm)||204.9 lb (92.9kg)|
|2010-2011||73.2 in (185.9cm)||204.5 lb (92.7kg)|
|2020-2021||73.0 in (185.4cm)||204.0 lb (29.5kg)|
By looking at the data table above, you can see that players are taller and heavier now than ever.
However, the numbers haven’t changed much since the 2000-01 season because hockey teams were investing more and more in size instead of skill. This was then noticed, and now there’s a good correlation between the two, which is why the sizing has plateaued.
What Is the Average Body Fat Percentage In the NHL?
The physical capabilities required by NHL players are more than we average persons can comprehend with all the training, working out, nutrition, and pressure. So, all that will have a major effect on the body and, with that, the body fat percentage.
The average body fat percentage in the NHL is 9.5%, with the optimal range between 8% to 12%. Under 8% of body fat is hard to maintain, leading to decreased energy levels, loss of testosterone, and muscle weakness. In contrast, over 12% of body fat would make it difficult to perform at the highest level.
That said, the 4-point range between 8% and 12% is perfect because it gives you wiggle room while you can perform extremely well without becoming too slow due to excess body fat or tired because you have too little.
A study by pubmed.gov shows that hockey position won’t affect the body fat percentage either, and the body fat percentages were 9.2 +/- 0.9% in the studied players.
Also, the study shows a clear difference in position weight, where forwards were considerably lighter than goalies and defensemen, as discussed above. Still, the body fat percentages remain the same, so the weight is healthy mass and muscles.
All in all, body fat percentage matters in hockey because fat is mostly excess weight, making it more difficult to move at the highest level when you have too much of it. However, too little of it will eat your energy levels too much, making you perform even worse.