The 2008-09 NHL season could be one in which Martin Brodeur stamps his name at the top of several lists in the record book.
The New Jersey Devils goaltender is on pace to elbow Patrick Roy aside and be the league’s all-time leader in wins, games and minutes played by a goaltender. He can also surpass Terry Sawchuk in career shutouts.
Brodeur needs just 14 victories to pass Roy at 551, so look for the 36-year-old from Montreal to accomplish that by late November. It’ll take a little longer to take the title as goalie who has played the most games as Brodeur is 61 back of Roy at 1,029.
Playing over 3,028 minutes this season – and Brodeur hasn’t played less than 4,000 in over a decade – will give him the most of any goalie in NHL history. Roy currently leads with 60,235.
With 96 career shutouts, Brodeur needs eight to pass Sawchuk at 103. That’s difficult, but possible for the four-time Vezina Trophy winner who plays behind a defensively-responsible team.
Sawchuk’s shutout record, compiled over a 21-year career with five teams, once seemed untouchable. Brodeur threatens to extend the record and make it so for his successors.
Brodeur extended his record for 40-plus win seasons to seven last winter and he played 70 or more games for a 10th consecutive year.
Several players are within reach of career milestones this season:
-Colorado centre Joe Sakic needs just 28 assists to supplant Mario Lemieux at No. 10 all-time in the NHL. A 95-point season would also push Sakic past Lemieux, who is currently seventh with 1,723 points.
Gordie Howe is currently eighth in career assists and Sakic can get there with 43.
-Tampa Bay’s Mark Recchi is poised to move into the top 20 in career points. He’s only 10 points back of Brett Hull, who’s at No. 20 with 1,391. Recchi should hit the 1,400-point milestone and the Stars’ Mike Modano can land on 1,300 in the opening weeks of the season.
-St. Louis’s Keith Tkachuk is just 16 points from a career 1,000, which would make him the seventh U.S.-born player to achieve that number after Modano, Phil Housley, Jeremy Roenick, Joe Mullen, Brian Leetch and Pat Lafontaine. Doug Weight, another American, is 31 points away from 1,000.
-Only seven defenceman have ever reached 1,000 points, but Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios are both closing in on that benchmark. It’s a stretch for 46-year-old Chelios to get the 52 points he requires given his modest output. It’s more realistic for Lidstrom to get 62 and join Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Housley, Leetch, Larry Murphy and Denis Potvin.
Chelios may have to settle for moving up the charts in number of games played. Getting to No. 4 behind Gordie Howe (1,767), Mark Messier (1,756) and Ron Francis (1,731) requires just 24 appearances. Chelios’s 25th season ties him for second all-time with Messier behind Howe’s 26.
-If free agent Brendan Shanahan signs with a team, he’ll be on the verge of becoming a top-10 all-time goal-scorer. Nineteen goals would be enough to catch Luc Robitaille, who holds down the 10th spot with 668. Shanahan’s 50th game this season would put him in the top 10 in games played at 1,540, which will tie him with John Bucyk.
-With 555 goals, just six more gets Mats Sundin into the top 20 on the all-time list, but he has yet to decide if, when and where he is playing. Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne is only eight goals back of Guy Lafleur’s 560 at No. 20.
-Closing in on the 400-goal mark this season are Calgary’s Jarome Iginla (374), the Rangers’ Markus Naslund (371), Minnesota’s Owen Nolan (381), St. Louis’s Paul Kariya (382), the Islanders’ Bill Guerin (387) and Montreal’s Alex Kovalev (368).
– Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby may be starting his fourth season, but the 21-year-old is closing in on numbers it’s taken other players a lot longer to get. He can score his 100th career goal in the season opener against Tampa Bay in Prague on Saturday. Crosby also needs five assists for 200 and six points for 300.
-Look for Washington’s Sergei Fedorov to become the highest-scoring Russian-born player of all-time in the opening days of the regular season. Alex Mogilny had 473 goals in his career and Fedorov is just one back.
-Behind the bench, Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff shouldn’t have to wait long for his 400th career coaching win as he’s just three away.
-Lining up to join the 1,000-game brigade are: Adam Foote, Colorado (998); Brian Rolston, New Jersey (977); Jason Arnott, Nashville (971); Brodeur, New Jersey (968); Todd Marchant, Anaheim (966); Kris Draper, Detroit (950); Miroslav Satan, Pittsburgh (947); Patrice Brisebois, Montreal (947); Jason Smith, Ottawa (945); Brad May, Anaheim (943); Kirk Maltby, Detroit (942); Chris Pronger, Anaheim (940); Rob Niedermayer, Anaheim (932); Sean O’Donnell, Los Angeles (932); Ian Laperriere, Colorado (927), Donald Brashear, Washington (926).
Jaromir Jagr’s advancement in the NHL record book halted with his decision to play for Omsk in the Russian league this season.
The 36-year-old Czech was on pace to establish himself as the most prolific right-winger in history over the next two to three seasons. He’s 96 assists and 251 points back of leader Howe, but Jagr will move no closer to the lead while he’s playing in the KHL.