10 Biggest Milestones of the 2022-23 NHL Season

After yet another busy offseason, the start of the 2022-23 NHL season is within striking distance. A number of the league’s marquee players are positioned to hit several noteworthy statistical milestones and cement their places in NHL lore. From establishing ironman streaks to rising up the career goalscoring leaderboard, here are some of the most significant benchmarks to be reached or surpassed this season.

Alexander Ovechkin: 800 Career Goals & Second All-Time in Goals

This entry technically encompasses two separate, but intimately related milestones. Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is poised to join the NHL’s 800-goal club, currently sitting 20 tallies (780) away from the benchmark and third all-time. Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801) are the only other players in NHL history to surpass 800 goals, indicating the historical weight of this potential achievement. Ovechkin will join the pair with his 20th goal of the season and eclipse Howe with his 22nd to become the sole owner of second place on the NHL’s all-time scoring leaderboard.

Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Considering Ovechkin’s play in recent seasons, he should hit both of those marks in 2022-23 with ease. He has never scored fewer than 24 goals in a season (done in 45 games in 2020-21) and scored 50 as recently as last season. The 37-year-old winger has scored at a 53-goal pace since 2019-20 and barring injury, should make headway on his journey to catch Gretzky for the all-time record.

Alexander Ovechkin: Most Career 50-Goal Seasons

Unlike the previously mentioned goalscoring records, this one figures to be slightly more difficult for Ovechkin to accomplish. He currently boasts nine 50-goal campaigns for his career, tying him with Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most such seasons in NHL history. He scored exactly 50 last season, but a possible age-related decline could prevent him from setting the new standard despite his recent success.

There exists an argument that no other player has been more obstructed than Ovechkin when it comes to setting records. The 2004-05 and 2012-13 lockouts coupled with the COVID-shortened 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons took away approximately two full campaigns from the Russian forward in the midst of his goalscoring pursuits.

SeasonActual Games PlayedActual Goals Scored82-Game Pace
Alexander Ovechkin’s prorated goal totals from several shortened seasons

Even if the 2004-05 and 2020-21 seasons are written off, the other two campaigns appeared to be comfortable 50-goal efforts and would have already given Ovechkin the record outright. As I mentioned earlier, he’s scored at over a 50-goal pace over the past three seasons so posting a 10th such season is within the realm of possibility. Still, age, health concerns, and a waning supporting cast could put this one in jeopardy.

Phil Kessel: Consecutive Games Played Streak

This may end up being one of the most briefly-held records in NHL history. Recently retired defenseman Keith Yandle set the ironman record last season but saw it extinguished after being made a healthy scratch late in the year, ending his run at 989 straight games played.

Winger Phil Kessel, now of the Vegas Golden Knights, should overtake Yandle early on this season, sitting seven games back of the record with 982 consecutive appearances. Barring any potential setbacks, he will make his 989th and 990th appearances against the Toronto Maple Leafs (Oct. 24) and the San Jose Sharks (Oct. 25) respectively.

At age 37, Brent Burns currently owns the second-longest active streak in the league at 679 consecutive games which still puts him several seasons behind the younger Kessel. No other active player has even cracked 300 straight games so, controversy about his record-breaking efforts aside, this is an honour the 34-year-old should hold for the foreseeable future.

Sidney Crosby & Alexander Ovechkin: 1500 Career Points

Undoubtedly the faces of the NHL during the first two decades of the salary cap era, Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby could become the 15th and 16th players in league history to eclipse 1500 career points as soon as this season.

The pair are currently separated by a single point, with Ovechkin (1,410 points) ever so slightly ahead of Crosby (1,409) on the all-time leaderboard. Both players either surpassed 90 points (Ovechkin) or scored at that pace (Crosby) last season, introducing the possibility that both join the 1,500-point club in 2022-23 if they can stay healthy.

Like Ovechkin, Crosby can hit other milestones along the way to 1,500 points. Entering the year with 892 career assists, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain is eight away from 900 and only needs three more to pass Phil Housley (894) for 20th all-time.

Given their collective importance to the league since making their NHL debuts in 2005-06, seeing both reach this milestone in the same season could make for a special moment.

Marc-Andre Fleury: Second All-Time in Career Goalie Wins

Since supposedly being exiled to the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of the franchise’s inaugural NHL season, Marc-Andre Fleury has revitalized a likely Hall-of-Fame career in recent years. He was named the Vezina Trophy winner for the first time in 2020-21 and signed a contract extension with the Minnesota Wild this offseason.

Heading into 2022-23, the 37-year-old Fleury has 520 career wins to his name, 31 behind Patrick Roy for second all-time. He played 56 total games in 2021-22 and finished the year with 28 wins after joining the Wild at the trade deadline. Currently slated to share goaltending duties with 24-year-old Filip Gustavsson, Fleury should see enough action with the Western Conference contenders to claim the wins he needs to pass Roy, health permitting.

Marc-Andre Fleury Minnesota Wild
Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Unfortunately, it looks like the all-time record may be safe for now. Martin Brodeur (691 wins) outstrips Fleury by 171 victories and played 59 games in his age-40 season with the New Jersey Devils. To challenge Brodeur, Fleury must remain relatively healthy and put together at least five more 30-win campaigns despite last doing so in 2018-19.

Still, second-place all-time is an enormous accomplishment and pairs well with his three Stanley Cups. Carey Price (361), Jonathan Quick (359), and Sergei Bobrovsky (336) are the three next-highest active goalies on the list and each is approaching the end of their careers. As such, Fleury can breathe easy knowing his place alongside Brodeur and Roy is secure for the foreseeable future.

Steven Stamkos: 500 Career Goals

Despite enduring a turbulent start to his NHL career and battling through several significant injuries, Steven Stamkos has enjoyed an illustrious tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although he already holds the franchise records for goals (481) and points (972), he is approaching the 500-goal mark, one of the most hallowed milestones in the sport.

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Given his absurd scoring pace over his career – 43 goals per 82 games – adding another 19 to his tally seems like a certainty at this point. Only 47 players in NHL history have ever scored 500 goals over their career and assuming Stamkos’ 2022-23 total is in line with his career rate, he’ll end the season firmly entrenched within the top 40 on the all-time leaderboard. Quite the career for the former first-overall pick.

Roman Josi: Franchise All-Time Points Leader

Of the 32 players who currently lead their franchises in all-time scoring, only one – Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins – is a defenseman. The 2022-23 season likely sees a second blueliner join the ranks, with Roman Josi (542 points) of the Nashville Predators sitting only 24 points behind David Legwand (566) for the franchise record. Considering Josi’s scoring output last season (his 96 points led all defensemen), the Swiss rearguard could feasibly own the record within the first two months of the campaign.

Of current Predators, 28-year-old winger Filip Forsberg (469) and 30-year-old center Ryan Johansen (334) are the only skaters within 250 points of the Nashville captain. Given Josi is signed through the 2027-28 season, his name should sit atop the organization’s leaderboard at least as long as he remains an active player.

Bergeron, Stamkos, Kessel, Pavelski, Giroux: 1000 Career Points

Although playing in 1,000 games earns players a special distinction within the hockey world, hitting the 1,000-point mark marries longevity with offensive excellence. This season, five of the past decade’s most influential players are set to hit the impressive milestone, simultaneously bolstering their future cases for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

PlayerCareer PointsPoints Away From 1000
Patrice Bergeron98218
Steven Stamkos97228
Phil Kessel95644
Joe Pavelski92476
Claude Giroux92377
Points away from 1,000 career NHL points

The Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron flirted with retirement during the offseason but re-upped with the only franchise he’s ever known. With 103 points over his past 127 regular-season games, adding another 18 is all but a formality.

Stamkos has navigated injury troubles in recent years but was fully healthy last season and tallied 106 points in 81 games, clearing the century mark for the first time in his career. Given his goalscoring prowess, he might score 28 goals alone by the All-Star break.

By his standards, Kessel saw his production dip with the Arizona Coyotes which is unsurprising considering the quality of his teammates. Still, the American winger has scored at a 52-point pace over the past three seasons and may see time beside Jack Eichel with the much stronger Golden Knights. An improved supporting cast and his trademark durability should see him hit 1,000 points without much difficulty.

Jack Eichel Vegas Golden Knights
Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Outside of those first three players, the other two are less likely to eclipse 1,000 points this season. The Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski generated 81 points last season on the team’s supercharged top line with Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz, but that was his lone 70-point campaign since 2015-16. He should keep his place alongside the Stars’ top offensive weapons, so 76 points are well within grasp.

Splitting last season between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers, Claude Giroux tallied 65 points in 75 games, putting him under the required 77-point pace. He did appear rejuvenated after joining the Panthers (23 points in 18 games) and his new team, the Ottawa Senators, made significant moves this offseason. If his production is more in line with his post-deadline play, scoring 77 points as part of the Senators’ top-six is attainable.

Patrick Kane & Evgeni Malkin: 1200 Career Points

Although it lacks the symmetry of scoring 1,000 or 1,500 points, accruing 1,200 career points is just as impressive of a milestone. This season, a pair of superstars from two of the NHL’s most successful franchises of the 2010s are on track to hit that mark and move into the top 50 on the all-time scoring leaderboard.

Patrick Kane, who scored the goal to win the Chicago Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup in 50 years in 2010, enters 2022-23 only 20 points away from 1,200. Avoiding injury, the American winger should easily pass that number by the 20th game of the season after scoring at a point-per-game pace in every season since 2017-18.

Despite not being named to the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players list in 2017, Evgeni Malkin has been a driving force for the Penguins since beginning his NHL career in 2006-07. His 1,146 career points place him 57th all-time, with another 54 making him the 51st player to reach the 1,200-point plateau. Production is not the question with the Russian pivot, but his health remains a concern. He’s only played in 74 of the Penguins’ 138 games over the past two seasons and has only appeared in 70 games or more in five of his 17 career seasons. It’s far from a given, but if his health persists he should score 54 points in a cakewalk.

Alexander Ovechkin – Most Career Shots

The Russian marksman makes yet another appearance on this list, this time due to his tendency to fire shots on goal at will. Ovechkin currently sits second all-time with 6,061 shots for his career, needing an additional 149 to eclipse Ray Bourque for first all-time.

Raymond Bourque Boston Bruins
Raymond Bourque, Boston Bruins (Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite closing in on age 40, the Capitals’ captain finished second in the league in shots taken (334) behind only Auston Matthews, his heir-apparent for the Rocket Richard Trophy. If he continues to shoot at a rate of four shots per game, he likely claims the record before the halfway point of the season.

This record does not carry much weight since players and teams are not rewarded for how many shots they attempt, but it remains a testament to Ovechkin’s offensive involvement and longevity.

Honourable Mentions

  1. Brent Burns – 21 goals away from joining the top 10 in career goals scored by a defenseman.
  2. Patrice Bergeron – Three goals, 43 assists, and 31 points away from being top-three in each respective category on the Bruins’ franchise scoring leaderboards.
  3. Sidney Crosby – One 100-point season away from joining the top-five for most career 100-point campaigns; currently tied with several players with six such seasons.
  4. Sidney Crosby – Needs one more point to pass Jaromir Jagr for fifth all-time in playoff scoring and 10 more assists to pass Ray Bourque for third all-time.
  5. Joe Thornton – One season away from playing in his 25th NHL season which would bring him into a tie with Mark Messier for third all-time.

Several NHL Records Within Reach in 2022-23

From Ovechkin cementing his place within the pantheon of NHL goalscorers to Thornton hoping to prolong his historic career, the 2022-23 season is full of intriguing storylines. While some records are more attainable than others, plenty of benchmarks will be challenged and established this season.

Sound off in the comments – which records are locks to be broken and which are hopeful longshots?

Data courtesy of Hockey Reference, QuantHockey, and the NHL.

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