Joel Otto was one of the NHL's best two-way centres during a career that spanned 14 seasons. The 6'4" behemoth was blessed with quick hands as well as strength, which made him a handful on faceoffs, along the boards, and in the slot. Otto was utilized in offensive and checking roles and was a strong leader wherever he played.
The native of Elk River, Minnesota played four seasons at Division II power Bemidji State where he was a two-time all-American and was nominated once for the Hobey Baker Award. After recording consecutive 30-goal seasons he was signed as a free agent by the Calgary Flames in September 1984. He excelled with the Moncton Golden Flames in 1984-85 then impressed with the 12 points in 17 games after being recalled to the NHL. After Winnipeg eliminated the Flames in the first round of the playoffs, Otto helped the U.S. place fourth at the World Championships.
Otto carved a significant place for himself on the Calgary roster by scoring 25 goals in 1985-86, including nine on the power play. The powerful centre scored 15 points in 22 post-season matches as the Flames reached the Stanley Cup final for the first time in franchise history. Other highlights for Otto included playing for Team USA at the 1987 Canada Cup and scoring 19 points for Calgary when they won the Stanley Cup in 1989. He later played for the U.S. at the 1990 World Championships and helped them reach the finals of the 1991 Canada Cup.
When the Flames began to rebuild in the mid-'90s, Otto was not resigned. He inked a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers and played three seasons there before retiring in 1998. Along the way he helped Philly reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in a decade in 1997 and represented his country when they won the World Cup in 1996 and took part at the Nagano Olympics.