Ever since Maurice “The Rocket” Richard became the first to do so in 1944-45, scoring 50 goals in one season has been the pinnacle plateau for NHL goal scorers. The magic 50-number has distinguished the true “snipers” of the league. While Wayne Gretzky once scored 50 in only 39 games – an NHL record – many Hockey Hall of Famers never hit the mark even once.
The city of Anaheim, California was christened with an NHL franchise in 1993. Being founded by the Walt Disney Company and basing their name on the 1992 film, the team was initially known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In only their third season, the team would have its first 50-goal scorer. The 1995-96 season would mark the first of three seasons in a row that the Ducks had a player eclipse the 50-goal plateau. The two players who were equal to the task both ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The 50-goal mark is very much an elusive number. Between the 1998-99 NHL season until present day, there has been only one other instance that a player scored 50 for Anaheim. In total, it has happened just four times in the quarter-century that the franchise has been in existence. Two Ducks achieved it once – one Duck did it twice.
We take a look now at the trio of Ducks scorers who were able to reach plateau. One of the three is still playing for the team and has been for well over a decade. Is it possible that he could hit 50 once more before his time in Anaheim is through? Or will the Ducks’ 50-Goal Club eventually gain a fourth member?
History provides us some thoughts on the matter.
Paul Kariya: First 50-Goal Scorer
For nine seasons Paul Kariya was the embodiment of a true Mighty Duck. He holds the distinction of being the first amateur prospect to be drafted in Anaheim’s history. Selected from the University of Maine Black Bears with the fourth pick of the 1993 NHL Draft, Kariya became the face of the franchise and one of the most recognizable stars of the 1990s and on into the 2000s.
Debuting with the club during the lockout shortened 1994-95 NHL season, Kariya finished third in voting for the Calder Trophy that season as the league’s best rookie. He would furthermore be named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team that season, as he scored 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points in 47 games.
Kariya’s performance in 1995-96 is the complete opposite of the cursed “sophomore slump”. Already serving as an alternate captain in only his second NHL season, Kariya proceeded to eclipse both the 50-goal and 100-point marks. On the final game of the regular season, the Ducks faced the Winnipeg Jets at home on Apr. 14, 1996. Winning the game by a score of 5-2, Kariya proceeded to score his 49th and 50th goals of the season against Jets goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Linemate Roman Oksiuta earned assists on both of Kariya’s tallies. The goals would also be the sophomore wingers 107th and 108th points on the season.
This would be the first time in Ducks history that they would have a 50-goal scorer and 100-point scorer.
Though eventually confronted with a series of concussions that would subsequently cut his career short, Kariya continued to generate goals and points for Anaheim. Most of the time he was partnered on a line with Steve Rucchin at center and Teemu Selanne on the right wing – a trio that became one of the most dominant lines of the 1990s. Though Kariya would never reach number-50 again, he would have a 101-point season for the Ducks in 1998-99. Kariya’s 300 goals in a Ducks uniform are the third-most in franchise history, and they took him just 606 games to accumulate.
After leading the Mighty Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Final where they would ultimately lose to the New Jersey Devils in seven games, Kariya would seek out an elusive championship on a team elsewhere. Among his stops with the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, he would finish his career with 402 goals and 587 assists for exactly 989 points in 989 regular season games. While Kariya never won a Stanley Cup, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.
Teemu Selanne: Two-Time 50-Goal Scorer
Teemu Selanne came to the Ducks partway through the 1995-96 season and would immediately become Kariya’s right-hand man. Anaheim acquired “The Finnish Flash” on Feb. 7, 1996 along with Marc Chouinard and a fourth-round selection in the 1996 NHL Draft in exchange for Oleg Tverdovsky, Chad Kilger and a 1996 third-round pick. While Kariya always remained beloved as the “Mightiest Duck”, Selanne would ultimately take over as the face of the franchise once the team dropped its Disney nomenclature.
Immediately following the trade, Selanne would score 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points in 28 games. This was only the beginning.
The season following Kariya’s 50-goal, 108-point performance, Selanne immediately rewrote the Ducks’ record book. The Finnish winger would up the tallies to 51 goals and 109 points in 78 games. Selanne would score his 50th against Byron Dafoe and the Los Angeles Kings on Apr. 9, 1997. He would score his 51st two days later against the Sharks to temporarily set a new team record. Selanne’s 109 points remain to his day an Anaheim team record.
It would not take long for Selanne to break his own goal-scoring mark. During the 1997-98 NHL season, he became the first – and thus far only – Mighty Duck to have not just two 50-goal seasons but to do so back-to-back. Selanne would proceed to score 52 goals in his second full season as a Duck. His 50th would come on Mar. 25, 1998 against Jeff Hackett, and it was the game-winner as Anaheim defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Selanne’s 51st and 52nd goals would not come until Apr. 5 and Apr. 8 respectively. When he scored his 52nd against Curtis Joseph of the Edmonton Oilers, he set a new Ducks team record for goals that still stands today.
The Ducks would briefly part ways with Selanne when they traded him to the San Jose Sharks on Mar. 5, 2001. After two-and-a-half seasons with San Jose, followed by a lone season in Colorado in which he and Kariya purposely reunited, Selanne would find his way back to Anaheim as a free agent in 2005.
Seemingly rejuvenated, he would end up playing another nine seasons with the Ducks after re-signing. In his first season back, Selanne scored 40 goals and 50 assists for 90 points in 80 games. Then at age 36 – after assembling a 48-goal performance in the 2006-07 season – Selanne finally would lift the Stanley Cup over his head that same season. This remains the only Cup victory in Anaheim’s history.
Selanne’s 457 goals with Anaheim are the most for any player in a Ducks uniform. He would finish his career with a grand total of 684 across his 21 NHL seasons, and would receive Hockey Hall of Fame induction alongside Kariya in 2017.
Corey Perry: Recent Lone Duck to Hit 50
The Ducks best goal scorer for the 2010s has been Corey Perry. In fact, he is statistically the second-best scorer in Anaheim history after Selanne. The Ducks drafted Perry with the 28th overall pick of the 2003 NHL Draft. He scored 13 goals in 56 games during his rookie season of 2005-06, and followed that up with 17 goals in 82 games as Anaheim won the Cup in only his sophomore campaign.
Perry’s goal totals only went up exponentially from there.
With the exception of the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Perry scored no less than 27 goals in each season from 2007-08 through 2015-16. Four of those eight seasons he surpassed 30 goals – 2008-09, 2011-12, 2014-15, and 2015-16. During the 2013-14 season, he ratcheted up his total to 43 snipes in 81 games. All tremendous totals, and evidence of Perry being one of the most productive scorers of his generation.
But Perry’s pinnacle season that we are looking for came in 2010-11. Playing in all 82 games that go-round, he became the third player in Ducks history to score 50 in a season. A look back on the mark shows that he did so in dramatic fashion. Hovering at 47 goals on the year, and with only three games to go, Perry and the Ducks took on cross-state rival the San Jose Sharks on Apr. 6, 2011. Lighting up Sharks goalie Antero Niittymäki, Perry proceeded to score a hat-trick to earn his 48th, 49th and 50th goals. He would additionally pick up an assist on a Cam Fowler tally too. Perry could have possibly scored a few more, but was kept out of the goal column on Apr. 8 and Apr. 9 showdowns with the Los Angeles Kings.
This would mark the final time that a Duck has reached the magical number-50 in a season.
Who Will Be the Next Star to Score 50?
Though still possessing his fierce competitive nature and a lightning-quick wrist shot, Perry has been maligned by age and injury in recent seasons. Besides losing a sizable chunk of time in the 2018-19 season due to surgery on his right knee, his two seasons prior to that consisted of totals of just 19 and 17 goals. While it is likely that he could still reach the 400-goal mark (Perry sits at 367 as of Feb. 18, 2019), achieving another 50-goal season would seem preposterous.
No, the next Duck to score 50 will need to come from elsewhere. The player would also likely need to come from outside of the current organization.
The current Ducks are simply not comprised of 50-goal scorers. Take for example Adam Henrique – a talented player no doubt, but one who has never scored more than 30 in a season. Rickard Rakell has likely taken over the reigns from Perry as Anaheim’s best goal scorer, but his seasonal totals remain in the low 30s.
Even the highly touted Ducks 2018 first-round draft choice Isac Lundeström has given no indications that he will be a player than can score buckets of goals. A tenacious forechecker who is extremely good in his own zone is not usually the make or model of a 50-goal scorer.
There are 11 seasons between Selanne’s 52 goals and Perry’s 50. It will be at least 11 more before Anaheim is blessed with another player’s membership to their “50-Goal Club”.