The NHL is flush with young snipers, many of whom are far off now, but could one day reach 500 goals. Here are our picks for players currently under 25 years old who will reach the 500-goal plateau.
On Sunday night, Alex Ovechkin became the 43rd player in NHL history to score 500 goals. At just 30 years old and with 800 games under his belt, Ovechkin has a lot more goals in him.
There are couple more veteran active players expected to join him in the 500 club. Marian Hossa sits at 493 and could also hit the mark this year. Patrick Marleau sits at 470 and could conceivably get there next year.
But what about the younger generation of players? The NHL is flush with young snipers, many of whom are far off now, but could one day reach 500 goals.
Here are our picks for players currently under 25 years old who will reach the 500-goal plateau:
Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues
For me, Vladimir Tarasenko is the safest choice. He’s a sniper on a very good St. Louis team that needs that sort of guy and with his moves, the Russian can score with the best of them. Even if the Blues fail to win the Stanley Cup again this season, you’re looking at a reload, not a rebuild. So Tarasenko will never suffer for linemates or depth on other lines that will help him produce.
On top of that, Tarasenko is still on the ascent. He has a 37-goal campaign under his belt already, but is on pace to score 44 this season. He currently sits at 90 for his NHL career, but a couple 40-plus seasons would shrink that 500 target awfully fast. Could he hit 50 or more in a year? Definitely. (Ryan Kennedy)
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames
Johnny Hockey has already shown he has a nose for the net and is still only getting better. He scored 24 goals as a rookie and is on pace to put up a 36-goal campaign this year. Gaudreau is extremely consistent and has remained healthy so far in his career. He played 80 games last year and has yet to miss a game in 2015-16. Most players not named Alex Ovechkin or Mike Bossy need to play a lot of games over many season to reach the 500-goal plateau. Gaudreau appears to be on pace for a long career.
If Gaudreau continues to improve he could be expected to be a 40-goal man by next season. That would give him 100+ career goals by the time he turns 24 and really hits his prime. If that were the case and he played a full 82 games next year as well, his career goals per game would sit at about 0.41. That’s hardly Ovechkin territory, but would mean he would need to play 1,000 more games at that pace to break 500. That’s no small task, but seems doable. (Ian Denomme)
Connor McDavid, Oilers
Broken collarbone or no broken collarbone, McJesus has age on his side. McDavid is still younger than Ovechkin was as a rookie, as Ovie’s debut was delayed by the 2004-05 lockout. McDavid isn’t a pure goal scorer in the mold of Ovechkin, but McDavid is far more than a playmaker. He can dangle. He can snipe. He scored 44 goals in 47 games in his final year of major junior. He potted five goals in his first 13 NHL contests. Even if he averages a mere, say, 30 goals over the next 15 seasons, that would get him to 450 by his age-34 season. Given his speed, hands and tremendous fitness, he should fill the net for many years to come. I like No. 97 for No. 500. (Matt Larkin)
Tyler Seguin, Stars
Since coming to Dallas in 2013, Tyler Seguin’s 98 goals are the third-most of anyone in the league, and Joe Pavelski, in second with 100 goals, has played 10 more games. By the time Seguin plays 205 games in Dallas, the amount Pavelski has, there’s not a single reason to doubt Seguin will be holding down the second spot to goal-scoring king, and reason for this roundtable, Alex Ovechkin.
Seguin, 23, might seem the easy choice being that he’s already scored 154 times, but it’s easy to forget there was a time when his scoring ability was questioned. In his rookie season, he managed only 11 goals, while Taylor Hall, drafted one spot ahead of Seguin, doubled that output in nine fewer games.
Seguin is on pace for 45 goals this season, the most in his career, and there’s no reason he can’t continue to build to a perennial 50-goal scorer, especially given Dallas plays a run-and-gun style. There’s one other factor: durability. You can’t score watching from the sidelines, and Seguin hasn’t been there often. In six season, Seguin has missed 14 games due to injury. A healthy Seguin is a scoring Seguin, and he has all the tools to keep filling the net well past No. 500. (Jared Clinton)