How many Players on a Hockey Team

Hockey is one of the biggest sports in North America and Europe.

As one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting sport on the planet, it would be a good idea to go through all the rules of the sport, specifically;

‘How many players do hockey teams have?’

We’ve answered this based on the National Hockey League which is the highest hockey league in the world, based in the United States and Canada.

NHL teams carry 20 active players on the roster on any given game, with 1-3 additional players that don’t play.

We will explain those ‘none-playing’ players later, don’t worry.

Of those 20, twelve are forwards, six are defencemen and the remaining two are goalies.

Hockey Player Roles

Let’s take a look at some of the roles in Hockey.


The primary focus of the forwards on any hockey team is to drive the offence and create plays to score more goals.

They play mostly in the offensive zone between the opposing teams’ blueline and the goal line. They are divided up into four forward lines of three players each, a centre and two wingers on either side.

The centre will take the faceoff to kick off the play and will try to pass the puck over to a winger or defenceman.


One of the most important positions in hockey, the defencemam has the sole purpose of protecting the goalie from high-danger shots.

Which means blocking shots and trying to take the puck from the opposing team to lessen the goalies load.

Teams carry six active defencemen during the game, three on the right side of the ice and three on the left side of the ice.

They are responsible for protecting the goalies crease and keeping the play in the opposing teams’ zone when playing offence.


Definitely the most important position in hockey, the goalie is the last line of defence for his team.

He has one objective stop the puck from going into his net.

He can do that in a few different ways, catch the puck in his glove, stop the puck with a pad or blocker to create a rebound or sweep the puck out of harm’s way with his stick.

There is also a backup goalie who sits on the bench in case the starter goalie can’t play.


First off, there are two types of scratches in the NHL, healthy scratches and regular scratches.

A scratch is a player that has been designated by the coach not to participate in the game and sit on the side and watch.

A regular scratch is a player that has been injured and hasn’t been cleared by the team’s medical staff to play in the game.

A healthy scratch is a player that doesn’t have an injury but is deemed unworthy by the coaching staff to play in the game.


Every NHL team carries between 21 and 23 players to their games, 20 active roster players, and three scratches.

Six players are on the ice at any given time, three forwards, or a forward line, two defencemen, or a defence pairing and the goalie.

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