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Brian Leetch  

Brian Leetch is generally considered one of the top offensive defensemen in history, and arguably the best American defenseman as well; his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame after his retirement seems a virtual certainty.

Brian Leetch is generally considered one of the top offensive defensemen in history, and arguably the best American defenseman as well; his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame after his retirement seems a virtual certainty. He has played for the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

The New York Rangers chose Leetch as their first round pick (9th overall) in 1986. He made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers in 1987, scoring 14 points in 17 games. In his first full year in 1988, he notched 71 points, including a rookie defenseman-record 23 goals, winning the Calder Trophy as well as being selected to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

In 1992 he became the fifth defenseman in history, and the only American defenseman, to record 100 points in a season and was awarded the Norris Trophy. In 1994 he again matched his career high of 23 goals in the regular season as the Rangers won the Presidents Trophy. That year the Rangers' 54-year championship drought ended with a 7-game Stanley Cup victory over the Vancouver Canucks; Leetch became the first non-Canadian to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, and remains the only American to win it.

Following the Rangers' Cup win in 1994, Leetch remained a fan favorite and team leader, serving as Captain from 1997-2000 after the departure of Mark Messier. In 1997 he again won the Norris Trophy and the Rangers made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2004 Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs just prior to the trade deadline for prospects Maxim Kondratiev, Jarkko Immonen, and a 1st round pick in the 2004 draft, which became Lauri Korpikoski, and a 2nd round pick in 2005, which became Michael Sauer. Leetch played well with the Leafs in the playoffs.

After the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Leetch was signed by the Boston Bruins to a one-year, $4-million contract. During this season with the Bruins, he scored his 1,000th career point.

In 1998, he was ranked number 71 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

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