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91 Days of Stamkos: Day 31, Ranking the 91s

Where does Steven Stamkos stack up against the other 91s in NHL history

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Since they started putting numbers on jerseys, 22 players have worn the number 91 at some point in their career. Of those almost two dozen, only eight of them sported the number before Steven Stamkos came into the league. After all, to some coaches and general managers, wearing a non-traditional number like 91 is disrespectful to the game.

Why is it disrespectful? Who knows, probably because higher numbers tend to stand out more. But isn’t that the reason why players wear numbers - to distinguish themselves from each other?

Nineteen different teams have been represented by a player wearing the number 91, with the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes franchise having the most at four different players wearing it at some point in the franchise history. And the reason for that is because Shane Doan has worn the number 19 for roughly 632 years in a row.

Only two players have worn the number for two different teams. The Detroit Red Wings have had the most goals scored by a player wearing the number 91.

So where does Stamkos rank among the 22 players who have all shared this wonderful nontraditional number? First we’ll narrow it down by eliminating the players that only wore it for less than a season. So goodbye to Jiri Tlusty (20 games), Jared McCann (69 games), Evgeny Grachyov (8 games), Martin Frk (2 games), Kris Draper (17 games), Jan Caloun (2 games), Alexander Burmistrov (29 games) and Mike Comrie (43 games)*.

That leaves 14 players. This list only takes into consideration the points the player accumulated while wearing the number 91. In some cases, like our first player below, it hurt them rankings-wise. Without further adieu, here is the list.

14. Markus Naslund - New York Rangers 2008-09 82 games 24 goals/22 assists/46 points

After playing 886 games and scoring 756 points wearing number 19 for the Vancouver Canucks, Naslund hung on to the NHL for one more year with the Rangers. A young kid by the name of Scott Gomez was wearing 19, so Naslund flipped the numbers. That’s a trend that will continue throughout this list.

13. Scott Gomez - Montreal Canadiens 2009-10 78 games 12/47/59

Speak of the devil! After a long and distinguished career in New York, Gomez found himself on the Canadiens in 2009. His cherished number 23 had been retired by the Habs (Bob Gainey), as had the 19 he wore with the Rangers (Larry Robinson). So he flipped it and had a decent year. He would never break the 50-point plateau for the rest of his career.

12. Magnus Paajarvi - Edmonton Oilers 2010-13 163 games 26/32/58

This Swede burst onto the scene, scoring a hat trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning in his first NHL pre-season game in 2010. He struggled to translate to the regular season as he would only find the back of the net 26 times in his Oilers career before being traded to St. Louis for David Perron. He was born in 1991, which might explain why he chose it.

11. Kyle Turris - Phoenix Coyotes 2007-12 137 games 19/27/46

A victim of the Doan longevity, Turris has had much more success wearing number seven in Ottawa.

Philadelphia Flyers v Phoenix Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

10. Oleg Saprykin - Phoenix Coyotes 2005-07 126 games 25/34/59

Another casualty of Shane Doan (the minute he’s finished they’re retiring his jersey, right?) Saprykin had worn 19 in Calgary.

9. Alexandre Daigle - Ottawa Senators 1993-1997 261 games 67/89/156

This is perhaps the only top ten list Daigle makes that isn’t titled “Number 1 Draft Pick Busts.” He was putting up decent numbers for some bad Senators teams with 91 on his sweater. He changed to 9 in his last year with the Senators (before the trade to Philly) because GM Pierre Gauthier didn’t like high numbers.

8. Butch Goring - New York Islanders 1980-1985 320 games 82/103/185

One of the main pieces of the Islanders dynasty, Goring played over 1100 games in the NHL. The bulk of his career was in Los Angeles where he wore 19. When he was traded to New York, Bryan Trottier was already wearing that number, so he went with the number he had always wanted to wear - 91 as an homage to his favorite athlete as a child. His favorite football player growing up was Jackie Parker who wore 91 for the Edmonton Eskimos.

7. Brad Richards 2008-2011 Dallas Stars 2014-15 Blackhawks 296 games 82/182/264

The first of two players to wear the number for multiple teams, Richards turned to 91 after being traded to Dallas from the Lightning during the great OK Hockey purge. His preferred number wasn’t available, as it was retired by the franchise to honor Bill Masterton, who wore it when the franchise was in Minnesota. They retired it as a memorial to the only player to die due to injuries suffered in an NHL game.

Richards reprised it during his short stint in Chicago, due to 19 being worn by the greatest hockey player currently playing the game today (as determined by NBC), Jonathan Toews [What! - Acha]. Lightning fans might remember seeing that number during the 2015 Cup Finals.

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

6. Tyler Seguin - Dallas Stars 2013 - present 273 games 125/156/281

He wore number 19 during his tumultuous time in Boston, and reversed his number and his fortunes when he moved on to Dallas. He is currently one of the best players in the game.

5. Vladimir Tarasenko - St. Louis Blue 2012-present 308 games 127/129/256

Another 1991 birth, Tarasenko actually wanted to wear the number 10, but it wasn’t available (thanks to Andy McDonald) so he just went with 9+1 to get to 10.

4. Marc Savard -Boston Bruins 2006-11 304 games 74/231/305

It’s a damn shame Matt Cooke ended Savard’s career with the headshot. He was in the prime of his career and could have anchored a very dangerous Bruins squad for a long time. Savard had worn 9 in Atlanta (RIP Thrashers), but that number was retired in Boston so he just took the 9 and and added a 1 at the end.

3. John Tavares - New York Islanders 2009-present 557 games 226/285/511

Right now, Stamkos is the best 91 of his generation. If there is anyone that will challenge him for that title it will be Tavares. Another player who switched to 91 because his preferred 19 was taken (in this case on one of his junior teams), Tavares has put up over 500 points with a constantly revolving cast of linemates. It will be interesting to see if he bolts from the Island when he’s a free agent and fills the 91 sweater Leafs fans set aside for Stamkos last season.

2. Steven Stamkos - Tampa Bay Lightning 2009-present 586 games 321/261/582

Pretty comfortable saying that despite missing some games due to injuries, Stamkos is the second best player to ever wear 91.

Which leaves…..

1. Sergei Fedorov - Detroit/Anaheim/Columbus/Washington 1248 games 483/696/1179

Hurricanes v Red Wings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images/NHLI

There wasn’t any doubt about this was there? The Hall of Famer wore 91 for his entire career, whether he was on offense or defense, a flashy young rookie or a slightly slower veteran mentoring the next Russian phenom. He chose to wear number 91 when he came to Detroit because it was the inverse of Steve Yzerman, and Fedorov, “wanted to be like Stevie”.

It’s insane that his number hasn’t been retired by the Red Wings. Yes, his holdout and his departure to Anaheim weren’t the smoothest of transitions, but if Marty St. Louis’ number can be retired in Tampa, the Red Wings brass should be able to forgive Fedorov after more than a decade.

If Stamkos can play another 700 or so games, maybe he’ll pass Fedorov on this list.

*Special recognition to Comrie who is the only player who wore 91 who was actually drafted 91st overall.