It’s always nice to see rookies like Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid score their first career goals, but they’re still a long ways from reaching the milestones some veteran players are after in 2015-16. Here are the top 10 milestones that could be hit this season.
Highly touted rookies such as Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, Max Domi and Nikolaj Ehlers have already notched their first NHL goals, earning their first major milestone. But while rookies build their careers from the ground up, a number of wily veterans are chasing some big-time career marks.
Already this season, Steven Stamkos and Tomas Plekanec have reached the coveted 500-point mark for their careers. Both reached the milestone with goals within the last week, but there are a few players who can reach even greater heights this season — we’re talking Hall of Fame-calibre milestones.
Take Jaromir Jagr, for instance. The 43-year-old ageless wonder is already a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, but he has six points in his first four games with the Florida Panthers this season and continues to inch ever-closer to the top of the all-time scoring list. Jagr’s teammate, goaltender Roberto Luongo, is also moving up the ladder when it comes to all-time marks for netminders and should be able to reach a couple in 2015-16.
Here are the top 10 milestones to watch this season:
10. Olli Jokinen’s strange journey
We’ll start with an odd one and a milestone that may not come to pass. Jokinen doesn’t yet have an NHL contract, but there is an outside shot Jokinen becomes only the second player in NHL history to have the distinction of suiting up for 11 teams.
The 36-year-old had off-season shoulder surgery and is coming off of a season in which he scored just four goals and 10 points in 62 games. He might be able to wiggle his way back onto an NHL roster, though, if he is willing to sign a low-dollar, show-me deal and play fourth line minutes.
The milestone is a funny one considering it seemed at times that Jokinen was destined to stay with the Florida Panthers forever. But Jokinen’s career has taken him all over the NHL. Drafted by the Kings, he was the dealt to the New York Islanders and then the Panthers. After seven years with the Cats, Jokinen has since played for the Coyotes, Flames, Rangers, Jets, Predators, Maple Leafs and Blues. That’s one third of the NHL. Should he sign in any city he has never played in before, only Mike Sillinger, who played for 12 teams, will have worn more NHL jerseys.
9. Daniel Sedin follows Henrik’s milestone
A similar list put together at the start of 2014-15 would have listed both Sedin twins as possibilities to reach the 900-point plateau with Daniel having an outside shot. Well, Henrik did accomplish the feat last season, so now it’s up to Daniel to follow suit.
Entering the year, Daniel was 19 points away from hitting the 900-point mark for his career. He’s gotten off to a hot start and it shouldn’t be long before Daniel gets to the mark. Through four games, Sedin has one goal and three points and he’s coming off of a season in which he scored 76 points. Chances are Daniel is celebrating his 900th point before the Canucks hit the end of their November schedule.
8. Shane Doan has two marks in sight
Few players have the longevity that Doan has had and the 20-year veteran is about to reach two big milestones in his career. Realistically, both could come on the same night, too.
The 39-year-old Doan has played 1,198 games and registered 368 goals and 899 points over that span. So when the Coyotes take on the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, Oct. 20, Doan will have a shot at knocking off two milestones at once. However, that’s if the 900-point plateau hasn’t already been reached.
Saturday night the Coyotes square off against the Boston Bruins and with a goal or an assist, Doan will be one of less than 105 players in the history of the NHL to hit the 900-point plateau.
7. Patrick Marleau’s winning tallies
When the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 10, Patrick Marleau was credited with the game-winning goal. Though the stat is admittedly a bit arbitrary — a game-winning goal can come in the first 10 seconds of a game should the goal-scoring team also record a shutout — Marleau has had a knack for finding his name next to the game-winner category throughout his career.
The Oct. 10 winner was the 88th of Marleau’s career. The all-time record is held by Jagr with 129 and there’s not likely to be anyone who catches him, but Marleau could very well enter the top 10 this season. If he notches five more game-winning tallies in 2015-16, Marleau will have 93 in his career, putting him into a three-way tie with Joe Nieuwendyk and Sergei Fedorov for the 10th-most in NHL history.
6. Marian Hossa and the half-millennium mark
Early in 2014-15, Hossa became one of less than 85 players to crack the 1,000-point mark for a career, but he’s well on his way to reaching another major milestone if he can start finding the back of the net this season.
Through five games, Hossa has been held goalless, but the 36-year-old perennial 20-goal scorer is only 14 tallies away from 500 for his career, a feat which only 42 players in NHL history have ever achieved.
That’s not the only mark Hossa is chasing down, though. He has been one of the most defensively sound players of this generation and an incredible penalty killer throughout his career which has led him to knock home 30 short handed goals in his career. Though it’ll be a tough hill to climb, should Hossa find the back of the net five times while the Blackhawks are down a man, he will crack the top 10 all-time and move into a tie for 9th with Theoren Fleury and Dirk Graham with 35 career short handed markers.
5. Nine more goals for Jarome Iginla
Iginla is at times the forgotten star on a team that consists of Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, but the 38-year-old is coming off of a 29-goal, 59-point season with the Colorado Avalanche. In three games this season, ‘Iggy’ already has two goals, which have put him up to 591 for his career.
Should Iginla find the back of the net nine more times this season, he’ll even further solidify his Hall of Fame credentials as one of only 19 players to ever notch 600 goals. Realistically, Iginla could even come close to passing his GM in Colorado, Joe Sakic, who is sitting in 15th all-time with 625 goals. Next up after Sakic is Dave Andreychuk, who scored 640 goals in his career.
4. ‘King Henrik’ nearing 350-win crown
Henrik Lundqvist has been one of the most incredibly consistent netminders in the NHL. In every single campaign outside of the lockout-shortened season, Lundqvist has won at least 30 games and there’s no reason to believe the 2015-16 campaign will be any different.
As it stands, Lundqvist is only eight wins away from reaching 350 for his career, making him only the 19th goalie in league history to reach the 350-win plateau. But he could jump even further up the list by the end of the season.
If the Rangers win another 31 games with Lundqvist between the pipes this season, he’ll surpass Andy Moog on the all-time list and be in sole possession of the 15th-most wins in NHL history. Lundqvist could very well be in the 400-win club by the time the 2016-17 season closes.
3. Alex Ovechkin eyes up 500/900
How has Ovechkin’s 2015-16 season gone so far? In two games, he has two goals and three points, which is about as good a start as you could ask for from the ‘Great 8.’ But the Capitals superstar is eying up two major milestones that might make you feel ancient.
For those of you who have been fans of the league since Ovechkin broke in, prepare to feel old. With two more points he will have 900 in his career. It has taken him just 762 games to get to this point and, honestly, it wouldn’t be shocking were Ovechkin to notch points No. 899 and 900 in Saturday’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Ovechkin isn’t just staring down 900 points, though. The six-time 50-goal scorer is just 23 tallies away from hitting 500 for his career. Easily the most prolific goal scorer of this generation, Ovechkin has five Rocket Richards trophies as the league’s top goal scorer, including each of the past three. Ovechkin reaching 500 goals this season isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And seeing as 23 goals is equivalent to about half a season for Ovechkin, expect him to be celebrating goal No. 500 sometime in late-December or early-January.
2. Three marks for Roberto Luongo in 2015-16
Keep an eye on Luongo this season as he could very well reach three milestones this year.
The first major mark will be wins. After racking up two in his first three starts of the season, Luongo is now moving his way up through the top 10 all-time. With one more victory, he will be in sole possession of ninth all-time and needs just five more victories to surpass the legendary Glenn Hall for eighth in league history. However, on an improving Panthers club, the mark to watch will be Tony Esposito’s 423-win total. Luongo needs just 21 more wins — a 23-win season — to surpass Esposito for seventh all-time. Since 2003-04, Luongo has never failed to eclipse the 25-win plateau in a season he was healthy.
Luongo is also eying up an incredible mark for shutouts, as he is only two away from 70 career blank slates. A big part of that mark, too, is that Luongo has made the fourth-most saves of any goaltender. But that could change soon, as he sits only 694 stops away from passing Curtis Joseph as the goaltender who has turned away the third-most shots in league history. He should earn that mark by season’s end.
There’s one more less illustrious milestone Luongo is nearing, but it’s likely not one he wants. He is 15 losses away from having the fifth-most defeats of any goaltender in league history. On a bubble team like Florida, that’s a real possibility for this season. In fact, don’t be surprised if Luongo ends his career with more losses than any goaltender in league history — only 66 more and he’s there, and he still has seven seasons left on his deal.
1. Jagr’s legend growing with each passing game
It’s been a while since any player has had their waiting period waived in order to enter the Hall of Fame, but Jagr might be worthy of such an honor, especially if he keeps playing like a 30-year-old in a 43-year-old’s body.
This season, Jagr will enter the top 10 in games played and will likely eclipse the 1,600-game mark. That will be the least of his accomplishments, though.
Jagr currently sits in fifth all-time with 726 career goals. However, with six more tallies, he’ll pass Marcel Dionne on the all-time list and there’s no doubt he has a shot at passing Brett Hull’s third-best mark of 741 goals, too. As long as the wear and tear isn’t too much on Jagr and he doesn’t sustain a serious injury, 16 more goals seems right in his wheelhouse.
There’s more, though: if Jagr scores another 43 points this season — he scored 47 points in 2014-15 — he’ll be the third-highest scorer in NHL history, one point ahead of the legendary Gordie Howe. It’s worth noting, too, that Jagr would then be just 37 points shy of passing Mark Messier as the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer. Jagr is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, but here’s hoping he’s back for at least one or two more years to make a serious push at second on the all-time scoring list.