Every new NHL season begins with an infinite amount of possibilities. The common goal is to raise the Stanley Cup in the spring, yet there are still personal milestones, historical records, division titles, and playoff spots to chase down during the 82-game campaign.
Every player has their unique path in the league and earns contracts based on performances at some level of professional hockey. Not many reach 1,000 games or 1,000 points. In a league built on speed and finesse, it is hard for some to even earn 500 games or 500 points.
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Most players’ milestones get lost in the shuffle and never get mainstream attention unless you are Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, or Connor McDavid. Skating in your 700th game may not be a headline for TSN or ESPN, but that is an accomplishment all on its own, as not everyone who has played the game at a professional level has the capabilities to reach those numbers.
With all that said, here is a look at 10 of the most achievable player milestones for the Flames in 2022-23.
The longest-tenured player on the team sits third all-time on the game-played list with 826. Mikael Backlund currently tied with Robyn Regehr and is 123 games behind former captain Mark Giordano for second place. Last season, he suited up for all 82 games, so barring any injuries or significant time lost in 2022-23, the native of Vasteras, Sweden, should become just the third player in team history to surpass 900 games.
Regarding his career points total, which currently stands at 436, Backlund will need 14 to reach 450. When he gets that, he’ll be within striking distance of 10th place all-time, currently held by Gary Roberts with 505 points.
After beginning his career with the Boston Bruins (566) and playing with the Los Angeles Kings (81), Edmonton Oilers (243), and Calgary Flames (206), Milan Lucic is just four games away from 1,100 in his NHL career. Should he reach this prestigious milestone, he will be one of just 200 players to ever play that long in the league.
Once known for his ability to score 20 goals a season, his production has gone down over the years; however, he remains 10 points shy of 575 for his career. Lucic still has a physical side to this game, and if he can earn 44 penalty minutes, he’ll surpass 1,300 minutes, etching his name among the top 215 players who ever spent that much time in the box.
Jonathan Huberdeau, meanwhile, can cross off a few personal milestones in his first season with the Flames. The native of Sain-Jerome, Quebec, sits just two goals shy of 200 and would become one of just 500 players ever to score that many goals. After setting a career-high with 85 assists in 2021-22, he would need a repeat performance of that magic to reach the 500 assists club. Should he produce points at the same pace as last season, there is no denying he would collect the 87 points he needs to reach 700 for his career.
Huberdeau could also be the first Flames player in 2022-23 to enter the 700-games played club this season. After skating in 671 games with the Florida Panthers, he is 29 games shy of the milestone. If he stays healthy, he should reach that by the middle of December.
Elias Lindholm has barely missed any playing time during his nine-year career with the Flames and Carolina Hurricanes. The versatile center needs 37 games to get into the 700-game club, which he could achieve before the calendar flips over to 2023.
The native of Boden, Sweden, enters the season with 449 career points and is on pace to climb past 500 if he has another career year (82 points), as he did in 2021-22. If successful, he will collect his 200th goal (181) and 300th assist (268) at some point during the 2022-23 season.
Tyler Toffoli has a chance to join Huberdeau and Lindholm in the 700 games-played club early in the new year (January) if he doesn’t miss any time with injury. After stops in four NHL cities, Los Angeles (515), Montreal (89), Vancouver (10), and Calgary (37), he is just 49 games short of his quest for 700.
Toffoli already has 200 career assists and is just seven goals away from 200. The native of Scarborough, Ontario, needs seven points to surpass 400 in his career, which will look good on his resume next to his 2014 Stanley Cup with the Kings.
Chris Tanev joined the Flames in 2020-21 after 10 seasons in Vancouver (514) and needs another 48 games to join Lindholm, Huberdeau, and Toffoli in the 700-game club. He appeared in all 82 games last year, posting career numbers in games played, assists (22), and points (28) while tying a career-high in goals (six). Thanks to a great 2021-22 season, he reached 30 career goals and is on pace for 150 assists (128) and 175 points (158) in 2022-23.
In July, Trevor Lewis re-signed with the Flames and will return for his second season with the team. The two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings is 40 games shy of reaching 850 for his career, a milestone only 600 other players have ever achieved.
If Lewis can score four goals, he’ll reach 85, and with two assists, he’ll have 110. Another double-digit scoring campaign will also get him over 200 points since he currently sits at 189.
Jacob Markstrom was a busy goalie in 2021-22, appearing in 62 games, winning 37 of them, and earning a Vezina Trophy nomination. The veteran netminder has appeared in 378 games, with the Panthers (43), Canucks (229), and Flames (106). He is sure to surpass 400 games played this season based on his usual workload.
The Swedish netminder has collected 169 career victories and should reach 175 without any problems. The closer Markstrom gets to 200, the closer he will be to cracking the top 100 in history. He will also surrender his 1,000th goal in 2022-23.
Rasmus Andersson has a lot of milestones to check off in 2022-23. After six seasons, he has played 298 games, so 300 and 350 games are within reach. He has 16 career goals and averages four a year, so 20 is obtainable too. With four assists and eight points, he will also grow his career totals to 100 and 120, respectively.
Noah Hanifin recently had his best season as an NHL defenceman, scoring 48 points, thanks to 10 goals and 38 assists. Those totals gave him 201 points for his career, so it is a safe bet he will reach 225 this season. He has two 10-goal seasons on his resume and sits just eight more away from 50. Another player who hasn’t missed a lot of action in his career, he will also reach 599 games if he suits up for all 82 games this year.
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It should be another entertaining season in southern Alberta. Whether you are a season ticket holder or a first-time attendee, no one ever knows when they may witness history. There is no guarantee that every player on this list finishes the year in red and white, but while they play, we should take a moment to appreciate their achievements. It isn’t every day that a player gets to reach these personal milestones.