Whether they care about them or not, each game players get closer to reach specific milestones. For some, it’s the 1,000-game plateau, while others are on the verge of 600 career goals. Whatever the mark, players are always reaching for that next achievement.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look at some of the most notable milestones on the verge of happening. We only took into account players within the NHL’s top 100 all-time for specific stats and some that are on the verge of personal milestones like the Alexander Ovechkin and the inevitable 600th goal.
That said, here’s a list of some upcoming milestones that you might witness before the end of the 2017-18 regular season.
Patrick Marleau (Toronto Maple Leafs)
With Jaromir Jagr gone, the Leafs’ Patrick Marleau is the active leader in regular season games played with 1,551 and sits 13th all-time. He’s just four games shy of passing Jarome Iginla for 12th on the all-time list and, assuming he continues to play every game, he’ll pass Iginla when the Leafs play their 62nd game of the season on Feb. 20 against the Florida Panthers.
Following that, Marleau will be at the heels of Nicklas Lidstrom for 11th on the all-time list.
On top of that, Marleau sits 32nd on the NHL’s goals list with 526 career tallies. He’s just eight shy of passing former Leaf great Frank Mahovlich for 33rd. Now, he won’t be as quick to pass this milestone – assuming he doesn’t go on some scoring surge. He’s averaged a goal every 3.2 games this season for the Leafs and because of that is on pace to secure this milestone in 25 games.
That means, Marleau will have to score 26 goals this season and based on his averages, he won’t reach that mark this season. That, however, could change.
Instead, let’s focus on his career assists. He has 585 over his regular season career ranking him 93rd on the NHL’s all-time list. He needs just three to pass Paul Kariya, six to pass Doug Wilson and Dave Keon, seven to pass Sergei Gonchar and eight to pass Dino Ciccarelli.
Considering he’s averaging an assist every 5.3 games, Marleau will likely pass Kariya on Mar. 22 in Nashville, but won’t reach any of the other marks before the end of the regular season. Still, he would sit 92nd on the league’s all-time list.
As for his overall point total, Marleau sits at 1,111 regular season points. That’s just 11 shy of former Leaf Darryl Sittler for 58th on the NHL’s all-time list. Assuming he continues his pace of a point every two games, it’ll take just 22 games to pass Sittler – which would take us to Apr. 2 against Buffalo.
Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks)
Marleau’s former mate, big Joe Thornton, also finds himself in the milestone discussion. For starters, he sits just seven games shy of playing in his 1,500th career game. That might have to wait, though, as Thornton continues to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Aside from the personal mark, Thornton is just three games shy of passing Phil Housley for 20th on the NHL’s all-time list and seven from passing Mike Modano for 19th on that same list.
On top of that, Thornton sits 96th on the league’s all-time list for goals scored with 397 – just six away from passing John Ogrodnick, Kariya and Shane Doan for 92nd and seven from passing Marian Gaborik for 91st on that list. Oh, and he only needs three to hit the 400-goal plateau in his career as well.
As for assists, he’s 12th on the all-time list with 1,030 and sits just four shy of passing Mario Lemieux for 11th.
Matt Cullen (Minnesota Wild)
While he won’t be found among the top 100 of most other categories, Matt Cullen’s longevity in the league has him ranked among the best when it comes to regular season games played.
He ranks 32nd on the NHL’s all-time list having suited up in 1,420 games. So what will it take to move up one spot and pass Pat Verbeek for 31st in the history books? He sits just five games shy of passing Verbeek and if he plays in every game over the coming weeks, he should pass the former Whaler on Feb. 23 when the Wild take on the Rangers in New York.
Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins)
The Bruins big man has also shown his ability to stick around in the NHL over his career. He’s played 1,405 regular season games and sits 39th overall on the league’s all-time list. That said, he’s not done yet.
Barring injury, Chara will pass Dale Hunter for 38th in three games (likely on Feb. 20 in Edmonton) and will pass legendary defenceman Paul Coffey in five games (on Feb. 25 at Buffalo) for 37th on the all-time list.
Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
One half of the Sedin twins cracks this list early as Henrik comes up ahead of his brother. He’s played 1,304 games over his career and sits 59th on the league’s all-time list. In six games, Henrik will pass Marian Hossa for 60th on the all-time list. That will likely take place on Feb. 25 in Arizona. Following that, he’ll look to top Bobby Holik who sits in 59th – a player he sits just 11 games short of passing.
Over that span, Henrik has collected 817 assists for the Canucks – good enough for 27th on the NHL’s all-time list. To jump one more spot before the season’s done isn’t out of the question either. He needs just nine assists to pass Alex Delvecchio for 26th on the all-time list. Right now, he’s averaging an assist every 1.7 games, which would mean that he would hit the mark in roughly 15 games. That would be on Mar. 14 in Anaheim.
In the points column, Henrik sits 70th all-time with 1,056 career points. He needs just seven points to pass Verbeek for 69th overall and based on his average of a point per 1.6 contests, that could happen in 11 games – a Mar. 7 matchup with Arizona.
Past that, he needs eight points to pass Joe Mullen, nine points to pass Ray Whitney and ten points to pass Keith Tkachuk for 66th on the all-time list.
Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
The other Sedin – Daniel – isn’t far behind his twin brother. In fact, Daniel sits in 69th on the all-time games played list with 1,280. With his next game, Daniel will pass Jean Ratelle for 70th on the all-time list. From there, he’ll need just two games to pass Phil Esposito, three to pass Ken Daneyko and nine to pass Mathieu Schneider to squeeze into 67th on the all-time list.
While he doesn’t crack the top 100 for goals, Daniel does sit 69th on the all-time assists list with 636. He is two shy of passing Sittler and Borje Salming on the list, and should achieve the milestone on Feb. 25 in Arizona if he continues to average an assist every 2.8 games.
Aside from that, he’s three assists from passing Dave Taylor, six from passing Gary Suter, seven from passing Martin St. Louis and ten away from passing Bobby Orr for 64th.
In points, Daniel sits 83rd all-time with 1,019. With two more points, he’ll pass Dale Hunter for 82nd on the all-time list and it could happen as soon as Feb. 17 when the Canucks take on the Bruins in Vancouver.
Three more points and he’ll pass Rod Gilbert, four will shoot him past Brian Bellows, while seven will knock off Patrick Elias and ten with put him into 78th all-time past Brian Leetch.
Scott Hartnell (Nashville Predators)
At 35, Hartnell is best known for his physical play in front of opposing nets. Very few talk about his 699 career regular season points. Nor do many discuss the fact that Hartnell is among the NHL’s top 100 when it comes to career games played.
Drafted in 2000, Hartnell is ranked 99th on the NHL’s all-time list with 1,228 games played during the regular season. And assuming he plays the remainder of the season, he’ll likely climb that list further. He’s just four shy of passing Olli Jokinen for 98th on the list, five away from Dino Ciccarelli and eight short of passing Steve Thomas for 96th on the all-time list. Not bad for a guy known mostly for his physical play.
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
There’s no real argument when it comes to Ovechkin’s ability to score goals. After all, he’s one of the game’s purest snipers in the league today. But what if I told you that he’s closing in on 600 for his career. In fact, the Russian sniper is just nine shy of the feat.
On top of that, Ovi sits 20th on the NHL’s all-time list with 591 and needs just 11 goals to pass Jari Kurri for 19th on the list. At his current pace of a goal every 1.7 games, Ovechkin should move past Kurri on Mar. 22 when they take on the Red Wings in Detroit.
On top of his goal milestones, Ovechkin is just four points shy of the 1,100-point plateau. He sits 62nd all-time with 1,096 and is just four shy of passing Glenn Anderson for 61st. Seeing as he’s averaging just over a point per game this season, he should expect to pass that mark on Feb. 20 against the Lightning.
Rick Nash (New York Rangers)
The subject of trade talks recently, Rick Nash is on the prowl for a few milestones of his own that all have to do with his goal scoring. Nash is currently ranked 68th on the NHL’s all-time goal list with 433 over his career.
He sits just five back of passing Pavel Bure for 67th – and assuming he doesn’t have any scoring spurt, should hit the mark in 17 games (a game against the Flyers on Mar. 22). He’s six shy of passing Gary Roberts, eight from passing Rick Tocchet and nine away from passing Rick Vaive and Steve Larmer for 63rd on the NHL’s all-time list.
Marian Gaborik (Ottawa Senators)
Newly acquired by the Senators, Marian Gaborik is on his own hunt for goal scoring milestones. He has 403 in his career which is good enough for 91st on the NHL’s all-time list and he’s not far off from moving up that list.
Based on his season stats, he’s averaging a goal every 4.3 games. That said, he’s only played 30 games this year for the Los Angeles Kings. But Gaborik only needs four more to pass John LeClair and Rod Gilbert for 89th on the all-time list – yes, a jump of two spots. Assuming he continues to play for the Senators, it’ll take him 17 games to pass those two players. That takes us to Mar. 20 when the Sens take on the Panthers.
Beyond that, he needs just six goals to pass Patrik Elias and Ray Ferraro and eight to pass Ray Bourque for 86th on the NHL’s all-time list. Feats that seem unlikely for this season.
Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Of course, we couldn’t make a list of milestones and not talk about Sidney Crosby. After all, he’s quite often referred to as one of the best players in the game today. While he’s more of a playmaker, he shouldn’t be counted out when talking about great goal scorers.
Crosby has 401 goals over his career thus far and sits 95th on the NHL’s all-time list. Needing just two goals to pass John Ogrodnick, Paul Kariya and Shane Doan for 92nd on that list, Crosby should be able to accomplish the feat in roughly six games. That’s a Feb. 27 matchup with the New Jersey Devils.
He’s also just three shy of passing Gaborik, six shy of Rod Gilbert and John LeClair, eight away from Patrick Elias and Ray Ferraro and ten goals from passing Ray Bourque for 86th on the all-time list. If anyone can get there by the end of the season it’s Crosby.
On top of that, Crosby sits 57th on the league’s all-time assists list. With six more assists, he’ll pass Sergei Fedorov for 56th on that list and could do that in eight games based on his season averages. Seven assists would put him past Dale Hunter for 55th, while eight would jump him up another two spots past Brendan Shanahan and Dave Andreychuk. Oh, and he’s just nine assists shy of 700 for his career.
As for points, Crosby sits eight short of the 1,100 mark. With four more, he could tie Ovechkin while eight would put him into 61st passing Glenn Anderson on the all-time list.
Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)
In Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg is the veteran among kids and his numbers prove that. He sits 80th on the NHL’s all-time assists list with 610 and 99th on the all-time points list with 943.
In both categories, the veteran is on the verge of moving up the list. He’s six assists short of passing Rod Gilbert for 79th on the league’s all-time list and eight away from passing Patrik Elias for 78th. Assuming his averages remain the same, Zetterberg should pass Gilbert on the list in 10 games – a meeting with the Wild in Minnesota on Mar. 4.
As for points, Zetterberg is just six away from passing Chris Chelios for 98th on the all-time list. Again, if averages add up, he should reach the mark by Mar. 2 in Winnipeg. Past that, he’s seven points shy of passing Vincent Lecavalier and ten points short of passing Rick Tocchet for 96th on the league’s all-time list.
Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)
Finally, there’s Anaheim’s captain – Ryan Getzlaf – and his ability to dish the puck. He sits 80th on the NHL’s all-time list with 606 in his career. He’s just four shy of passing Marian Hossa, five away from passing Zetterberg and ten short of Gilbert for 79th on the all-time list.
Getzlaf has averaged an assist every 1.2 games, which means that he should be able to pass Hossa within the next five games. If that’s the case, expect him to hit the mark before or on Feb. 24 when the Ducks are in Arizona.
While there will always be players chasing milestones in this game, we figured we’d get you a cheat sheet for the upcoming ones – some that should take place over the next few months of the season.
That said, remember that expected dates are averaged out and could vary thanks to slumps or injuries over the coming weeks.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.