And then there was one.
After a two-point outing Sunday, which came by way of assists on the Florida Panthers’ game-opening and game-winning goals, Jonathan Huberdeau has moved into second place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list. And that he’s done so this early in the campaign – the Cats have only played 29 games this season – is mighty impressive.
Entering the season, the 26-year-old was 35 points behind the now-third-place Stephen Weiss, who registered 394 points in his 654 games with the Panthers. But thanks to a red-hot start to the season, Huberdeau has made quick work of Weiss’ mark and can now take aim at the top of the heap. Reaching the top of Florida’s all-time scoring list shouldn’t be all that difficult for Huberdeau, either. In fact, if he maintains this rate of scoring, there’s potential for Huberdeau to pass the current franchise leader, Olli Jokinen, before the all-star break. As it stands, Jokinen’s 419 points with the franchise put him 24 points clear of Huberdeau, but the present-day Panthers scorer’s 1.24 points-per-game production rate means he could close the gap in roughly 20 games.
Arguably most impressive about Huberdeau’s bid to overtake the scoring lead, however, is the timeframe within which he’s set to do so. Though Jokinen’s Panthers tenure spanned seven seasons, one fewer than Huberdeau has spent with the organization at this point, the former Florida standout mustered his 419 points across 567 games with the franchise. By comparison, if Huberdeau were to remain on track and score another 25 points by the all-star break, he will have surpassed Jokinen’s first-place total in 50 fewer games.
Without question, Huberdeau would already land on a list of the franchise’s all-time greats, too. While he scores his way towards the top spot on the all-time list, he finds himself with the fifth-best points per game rate of any Panther to play at least 100 games with the franchise, he is already the franchise’s all-time assist leader and only six players in franchise history have scored more goals than Huberdeau.
Now, will Huberdeau keep the franchise scoring record? That’s another question altogether. In 54 fewer games, teammate Aleksander Barkov has overtaken Huberdeau on the goal-scoring list, the former’s 145 goals nine more than the latter’s 136 with the Panthers. And the gap between the two on the all-time scoring list is fairly narrow. Only 14 points separate Huberdeau and Barkov, and the two-way pivot stands to surpass both Weiss and Jokinen this season, too.
As the franchise’s two cornerstone forwards, chances are Huberdeau and Barkov will battle for top spot on the Panthers’ scoring list over the next few seasons. Pending unrestricted free agency for both – Barkov’s deal expires after the 2021-22 season and Huberdeau’s following the 2022-23 campaign – could change the equation, but if both remain in Florida for the long haul, it’s a near certainty they’ll be first and second in franchise scoring when they wrap up their time as Panthers.
Huberdeau and Barkov aren’t the only active players set to take franchise scoring leads either this season or in the not-too-distant future, though. Here are five other current NHLers who have their sights set on their respective franchise’s top-scoring marks:
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks – 42 points
Getzlaf has already established himself as one of the franchise’s all-time greats and you can rest assured that no player will ever wear the No. 15 again in Anaheim. It will go to the rafters almost immediately after Getzlaf retires. That comes with the territory when you’ve got a Stanley Cup on your resume, as well as the franchise’s all-time games played (1,014) and assists (676) marks. But if Getzlaf wants to put the cherry on top of his time in Anaheim, he can do so by passing Teemu Selanne to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
Right now, Getzlaf’s 947 points are 41 back of Selanne’s franchise-record 988 points. So, when can we expect the record to change hands? Well, possibly by season’s end. As his scoring pace would have it, Getzlaf is in line to score another 41 points this season. His pursuit of the record can add some intrigue to what has and likely will continue to be an otherwise mediocre season in Anaheim.
Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets – 189 points
All right, so don’t expect it this season, but assuming he’s sticking around in Columbus for the long haul – given he has this season and five more remaining on his deal, we’ll say that’s a safe assumption – Atkinson, who has 358 points as a Blue Jacket, is going to chase down and eventually find his way past Rick Nash atop the franchise’s scoring list. It might take the better part of what’s left on Atkinson’s deal for that to come to pass, though.
That’s not at all a knock on Atkinson, mind you. Simply, it’s the way the math works out. Consider that over the course of the past three-plus seasons, Atkinson has scored at a .75 points per game rate. If he were to maintain that through the next few seasons, it would take him 252 games to score the points necessary to pass Nash. That works out to a hair more than three seasons, and that’s not accounting for any time Atkinson could miss due to injury or any potential declines in production.
Still, with the time left on his deal, consider him a legitimate threat to Nash’s franchise-best 547 points.
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators – 242 points
Forsberg isn’t the Predator closest to David Legwand’s franchise-leading 566 points. Matter of fact, he’s hardly within 50 points of Nashville’s active leading scorer. So, why put him on this list and not Roman Josi, who is 193 points away from Legwand’s mark? Because a healthy Forsberg has a chance to be a consistent 80-point player and a healthy Josi has never scored more than 61 points in a single season. If Forsberg can string together some big campaigns in the next few seasons, he’ll manage to reach Legwand before Josi. Ipso facto, Forsberg is listed here and not Josi.
The points mark isn’t the only one of Legwand’s that Forsberg is chasing, however. With 156 goals throughout his time with the Predators, Forsberg is only 54 away from matching and 55 shy of surpassing Legwand for the franchise’s all-time goal-scoring record. He won’t reach any of the marks this season, but there’s a chance he will fell at least one, and possibly even both if he has one massive campaign, by the time his contract runs out following the 2021-22 campaign.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning – 162 points
In the coming weeks, Stamkos will celebrate a milestone that only two players in Lightning history have been able to reach when he notches his 800th point. Currently, he’s nine points shy of the mark, which only Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis have previously reached with the Bolts.
It’s in that same order, too – Lecavalier and then St-Louis – that Stamkos stands to knock off the Lightning’s all-time leading scorers. On pace for 83 points this season, Stamkos stands to close the campaign with 849 points to his name. He would then enter the 2020-21 season 25 points back of Lecavalier’s second-best 874 points. And producing a point-per-game effort next season would still leave Stamkos an additional 22 points behind St-Louis’ franchise-leading 953 points.
Either way, with five seasons left on his deal, Stamkos is destined to pass the two franchise legends. Once he does, you can add the accomplishment to his already-franchise-best 402 goals.
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets – Eight points
Getzlaf is months away from the top spot in Anaheim and Atkinson, Forsberg and Stamkos are years away from becoming franchise points leaders for their respective teams. Wheeler, however, has a shot at moving into top spot in Jets history before the holiday break.
Between now and Christmas Day, Winnipeg will play seven games, so getting the eight points he needs doesn’t necessarily seem like the tall order it is for others. That’s especially true given the Winnipeg captain has been heating up lately. He has nine points in his past seven games, including a trio of two-point outings. If he can replicate his recent run of performances over the next two weeks, Wheeler would not only move into a tie with Ilya Kovalchuk for first all-time in franchise scoring – Wheeler has 608 points, Kovalchuk scored 615 points – but take over sole possession of top spot.
It should be noted, as well, that Wheeler has his sights set on another milestone on his way to the franchise lead. His next goal with be the 200th of his career. He’ll become just the third player in franchise history to score 200 times.
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