The 1990–91 NHL season was the 74th season of the National Hockey League (NHL). The season lasted from October 4, 1990 to May 25, 1991.
This was the last NHL season to end in the month of May.
At meetings in Florida in December, the NHL Board of Governors awarded provisional franchises to groups from Ottawa and Tampa.
The Ottawa franchise marked a return to one of the original cities of the NHL, while Tampa meant the first franchise in the sunbelt state of Florida.
In a later book published by NHL president Gil Stein, Stein revealed that the two groups were the only ones of the applicants who agreed to the $50 million expansion fee without question.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF= Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
- Wales Conference
- Campbell Conference
- Main article: 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs
A record high 92 playoff games were held, and for the first time since the 1973 playoffs, no team was swept in a playoff series, it would not happen again until the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Note: All dates in 1991
The championship was the first in Penguins history.
- Main article: 1991 Stanley Cup Finals
|Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota North Stars|
| Pittsburgh wins series 4–2|
and Stanley Cup
| Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh)|
wins Conn Smythe Trophy
Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Wayne Gretzky||Los Angeles Kings||78||41||122||163||16|
|Brett Hull||St. Louis Blues||78||86||45||131||22|
|Adam Oates||St. Louis Blues||61||25||90||115||29|
|Mark Recchi||Pittsburgh Penguins||78||40||73||113||48|
|John Cullen||Pittsburgh Penguins / Hartford Whalers||78||39||71||110||103|
|Joe Sakic||Quebec Nordiques||80||48||61||109||24|
|Steve Yzerman||Detroit Red Wings||80||51||57||108||34|
|Theoren Fleury||Calgary Flames||79||51||53||104||136|
|Al MacInnis||Calgary Flames||78||28||75||103||90|
|Steve Larmer||Chicago Blackhawks||80||44||57||101||79|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1990–91 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Robert Reichel, Calgary Flames
- Dominik Hasek, Chicago Blackhawks
- Keith Primeau, Detroit Red Wings
- Mike Sillinger, Detroit Red Wings
- Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings
- Bobby Holik, Hartford Whalers
- Geoff Sanderson, Hartford Whalers
- John LeClair, Montreal Canadiens
- Patrice Brisebois, Montreal Canadiens
- Sean Hill*, Montreal Canadiens
- Doug Weight*, New York Rangers
- Tony Amonte*, New York Rangers
- Mike Ricci, Philadelphia Flyers
- Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Mats Sundin, Quebec Nordiques
- Owen Nolan, Quebec Nordiques
- Petr Nedved, Vancouver Canucks
- Dmitri Khristich, Washington Capitals
- Peter Bondra, Washington Capitals
- Kris Draper, Winnipeg Jets
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1990–91 (listed with their last team):
- Gord Kluzak, Boston Bruins
- Tony McKegney, Chicago Blackhawks
- Glen Hanlon, Detroit Red Wings
- Don Maloney, New York Islanders
- Lindy Ruff, New York Rangers
- Pete Peeters, Philadelphia Flyers
- Guy Lafleur, Quebec Nordiques
- Harold Snepsts, St. Louis Blues
- Paul MacLean, St. Louis Blues
- Rick Meagher, St. Louis Blues
- Stan Smyl, Vancouver Canucks
- Joel Quenneville, Washington Capitals
- March 4, 1991: Ron Francis, Grant Jennings, and Ulf Samuelsson traded from Hartford to Pittsburgh for John Cullen, Jeff Parker, and Zarley Zalapski.
- March 5, 1991: Allan Bester traded from Toronto to Detroit for Detroit's sixth round pick in 1991 Entry Draft.
- March 5, 1991: Geoff Courtnall, Robert Dirk, Sergio Momesso, Cliff Ronning ,and future considerations traded from St. Louis to Vancouver for Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher.
- March 5, 1991: Mark Hunter traded from Calgary to Hartford for Carey Wilson.
- March 5, 1991: Mark Pederson traded from Montreal to Philadelphia for Philadelphia's second round pick in 1991 Entry Draft and future considerations.
- March 5, 1991: Keith Osborne traded from St. Louis to Toronto for Darren Veitch and future considerations.
- March 5, 1991: Ken Priestlay traded from Buffalo to Pittsburgh for Tony Tanti.
- March 5, 1991: Dana Murzyn traded from Calgary to Vancouver for Ron Stern, Kevan Guy and future considerations.
- March 5, 1991: Kim Issel]] traded from Edmonton to Pittsburgh for Brad Aitken.
- March 5, 1991: Steve Weeks traded from Vancouver to Buffalo for future considerations.
- March 5, 1991: Marc Bureau traded from Calgary to Minnesota for Minnesota's third round choice in 1991 Entry Draft.
- March 5, 1991: Joey Kocur and Per Djoos traded from Detroit to NY Rangers for Kevin Miller, Jim Cummins and Dennis Vial.
- March 5, 1991: Bobby Reynolds traded from Toronto to Washington for Robert Mendel.
- March 5, 1991: Mike McNeill and Ryan McGill traded from Chicago to Quebec for Paul Gillis and Daniel Vincelette.
- March 5, 1991: Ilkka Sinisalo traded from Minnesota to Los Angeles for Los Angeles' eighth round choice in 1991 Entry Draft.