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Breaking Down The Shortest NHL Players Now & Through Hockey History

Our list of the Shortest NHL players includes Cole Caufield and more
Credit: @art-and-the-hockeys via Tumblr/NHL/Joker Mag

It was Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back who said, “Size matters not,” and if you follow the NHL with some regularity you know that it’s a big man’s league.

In fact, the average NHL height might surprise you. Especially at the goalie position.

But players who are short in stature or just plain small have had substantial success in the National Hockey League despite their height.

These are the shortest NHL players – now and throughout hockey history.

Who Was The Shortest NHL Player Ever?

Roy "Shrimp" Worters is the smallest NHL player of all-time, standing at 5-feet 3-inches tall and weighing a mere 135 pounds.

At 5’3″ and 135 pounds, Roy “Shrimp” Worters was the shortest player to ever play in the NHL. The diminutive goalie played 13 NHL seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Americans, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

His wildly successful career included a Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, and Second-Team All-Star selections in 1932 and 1934.

Size was no issue for the man known as “Shrimp”, as he was the first goalie to record back-to-back shutouts and followed that up by signing an $8,500 per season contract – an unparalleled amount for a goalie at the time.

His staggering list of accolades netted him a nod to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969. Unfortunately, Worters died of throat cancer in 1957 so he was not able to see his induction, with is truly tragic in every sense of the word.

Worters was a pioneer in the NHL because of his size and also for paving the way for future undersized players. He had stopped 70 of 73 shots, setting a then-NHL record with Pittsburgh.

Fun fact: Worters was 18 inches smaller than Zdeno Chára, the league’s tallest player ever.

Shortest Active NHL Players

Matthew Phillips, C – 5’7″ 140lbs

At 5’7″ and 140 pounds, Matthew Phillips is the lightest player in the NHL. He’s also tied for the title of shortest player in the league.

The diminutive winger was a 6th-round selection of Calgary (166th overall) back in 2016. And he’s been back and forth between the AHL and NHL ever since.

RELATED: How 5’6″ Theo Fleury Went From 8th-Rounder to NHL All-Star

Cole Caufield, RW – 5’7″ 174lbs

Standing at 5'7", Cole Caufield is more than 5 inches shorter than the average NHL forward

At 5’7″ and 174 pounds, Cole Caufield is one of the shortest active NHL players. The 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft, the winger made his debut in the shortened 2020-21 season and helped spark the Canadien’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Caufield’s family pedigree shows promise that he can overcome his diminutive stature to have a prosperous career. His brother and father both played college hockey, and his grandfather was a 2011 inductee into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame.

Caufield finished his rookie year with 23 goals, tied for second in rookie goal-scoring. He’s quickly become a fan favorite in Montreal.

Bobby Trivigno, LW – 5’7″ 167lbs

5’7″ winger Bobby Trivigno played for the Rangers alongside 6’7″ Matt Rempe – marking the biggest height disparity between NHL teammates.

Despite being named the Most Outstanding Player in the 2021 NCAA tournament, Trivigno went undrafted the following spring.

“He brings such intensity and such fire that it makes people want to hate him,” his coach, Casey Torres, said. “But I think that’s a good attribute.”

Trey Fix-Wolansky, RW – 5’7″ 191lbs

5'7" NHL winger Trey Fix-Wolansky quote: "You're never too small to succeed."

Drafted 204th overall in 2018, Trey Fix-Wolansky scored his first NHL goal in his debut four years later.

The Edmonton native doesn’t let his size stop him from excelling, either.

His advice for other undersized athletes?

“Never give up. And, you’re never too small to succeed.”

Xavier Simoneau, C – 5’7″ 178lbs

Simoneau is a hard-nosed player who amassed over 250 career points in juniors.

Selected by Montreal with the 191st overall pick in 2021, is described as “remarkably physical for his size…he doesn’t take shifts off.”

Domenick Fensore, D – 5’7″ 151lbs

At 5'7", Domenick Fensore is one of the shortest defensemen in NHL history.

5’7″ Domenick Fensore is the smallest D-man in the league, and also one of the shortest defensemen in NHL history.

In April 2023, the Boston University product signed a 2-year, entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.

“Domenick is a skilled, playmaking defenseman,” said GM Don Waddell. “He captained a BU team that was among the best in college hockey…we’re excited for him to take the next steps in his development.”

Logan Stankoven, C – 5’7″ 170lbs

Born in Kamloops, BC, Logan Stankoven was a 2nd-round draft choice of the Dallas Stars in 2021.

Prior to that, he took home three gold medals – two IIHF World Junior Championships and one World U18 Championship.

The 5’7″ center won the Ed Chynoweth Trophy in 2023 for his performance in the WHL playoffs – leading the entire tournament with nine points in just four games.

Kailer Yamamoto, RW – 5’8″ 153lbs

Weighing in at a mere 153 pounds, Kailer Yamamoto is the lightest player in the NHL. But the 5’8″ winger shouldn’t be underestimated.

“He’s relentless,” said his former coach Dave Tippet. “He doesn’t give up on anything.”

Yamamoto has silenced any early criticism with his play on the ice, improving in every season of his young NHL career.

Cam Atkinson, RW – 5’8″ 176lbs

Atkinson was mentored by another small but skilled forward, the 5’8″ Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis.

The winger was told at every level that he was not big enough to be a difference-maker in the NHL. He fell all the way to the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Draft, eventually picked 157th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Since then, he’s defied the odds – sticking around for more than 700 NHL games. Atkinson’s best season came in 2018-19, where he put up 41 goals and 28 assists for 69 points.

Alex DeBrincat, RW – 5’8″ 178lbs

Debrincat was drafted 39th overall in the 2016 draft and put up 52 points in his rookie season. He was even better in his second year, cracking the 40-goal plateau.

He surprised a lot of NHL pundits and Chicago fans who thought he would not be a serious player due to his height.

“You hear it and read it, but it comes with the territory,” DeBrincat told NHL.com in 2017.

“People doubt you, but you have to brush it off. Hopefully, they say that before they’ve seen me play too much. I don’t think about it and don’t really even use it as motivation, because the style I play is what I’ve always played.”

Mats Zuccarello, RW – 5’8″ 181lbs

Zuccarello signed with the New York Rangers in 2010 as a free agent but was sent to their AHL affiliate to adjust to the North American game after playing in Sweden and his home country of Norway.

Despite this stature, he showed enough skill, grit, and determination to help the NHL club in their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014.

After a short stint with the Dallas Stars in the 2019 playoffs, he’s patrolled the Minnesota Wild’s forward lines with the same tenacity. He’s now considered one of the greatest Norwegian players to ever play in the NHL.

More short NHL players:

  • Tyler Johnson, C – 5’8″ 185lbs
  • T.J. Tynan, C – 5’8″ 160lbs
  • Johnny Gaudreau, LW – 5’9″ 165lbs
  • Jared Spurgeon, D – 5’9″ 166lbs
  • Blake Lizotte, C – 5’9″ 170lbs
  • Yanni Gourde, C – 5’9″ 174lbs
  • Brad Marchand, LW – 5’9″ 176lbs
  • Joe Snively, C – 5’9″ 176lbs
  • Jacob Bryson, D – 5’9″ 176lbs
  • Nick Blankenburg, D – 5’9″ 177lbs
  • Conor Sheary, LW – 5’9″ 179lbs
  • Sheldon Dries, C – 5’9″ 180lbs
  • Denis Malgin, C – 5’9″ 182lbs
  • Marco Rossi, C – 5’9″ 182lbs
  • Nicholas Robertson, LW – 5’9″ 183lbs
  • Jonathan Marchessault, C – 5’9″ 183lbs
  • Nils Hoglander, LW – 5’9″ 185lbs
  • Brendan Gallagher, RW – 5’9″ 186lbs
  • Ryan Lomberg, LW – 5’9″ 187lbs
  • Victor Mete, D – 5’9″ 187lbs
  • Nathan Walker, LW – 5’9″ 187lbs
  • Justin Danforth, RW – 5’9″ 190lbs
  • Colin Blackwell, C – 5’9″ 190lbs
  • Torey Krug, D – 5’9″ 194lbs

Check out more stories in this series:

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Written By

Ben Abel has been an avid sports fan since the 1980s. He has contributed to Sports Betting Dime, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America Newsletter, and Joker Mag writing about hockey, baseball, and football as well as other sports. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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