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Wayne Gretzky, also known as the ‘Great One’, is the all-time goal scoring leader in NHL history. He is the unanimous selection when it comes to being the greatest hockey player of all-time. Gretzky has 2,857 career points with 894 goals. In fact, if you were to take away all of Gretzky’s goals, he would still have more points than any player in NHL history.
He has 1,963 total assists, as Jaromir Jagr ranks second in all-time points with 1,921. It seems no one will touch the Great One’s point total record, but what about his 894 goal total record? Let’s break down the top goal scorers in NHL history and see if anyone can catch Gretzky’s record.
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The Top Goal Scorers in NHL History
Three players have scored over 800 goals in their career, one of which is actually still active. Let’s explore the top 10 NHL goal scorers in history.
- Wayne Gretzky, 894 goals
As mentioned above, Gretzky has close to 3,000 total points in 1,487 games played. He has scored almost double the amount of points in 300 less games than other players on this list. He is only one of three players in professional sports to have his number retired by the league he plays in.
Despite winning four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, he played on various clubs that also included the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. He finished his career with 73 shorthanded goals, the most among any player.
- Alex Ovechkin, 822 goals
Alex Ovechkin has 822 goals as of this writing, a currently active player who will challenge Gretzky for his total depending how many years on the ice he has left. Ovechkin only has five shorthanded goals, but has 299 power play goals which is more than the Great One.
He won the Stanley Cup in 2018, his only one, while also winning the Conn Smythe for his efforts. He is a nine-time winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy – given out to the goal scoring leader each season, and a three-time Hart Memorial winner – given to the league’s MVP.
- Gordie Howe, 801 goals
The second Canadian on the list is Gordie Howe, the third and final player to have over 800 career goals. He also has over 1,000 assists with 1,850 total points. He is a four-time Stanley Cup champion and a six-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner. Howe also led the league in goal scoring five different times and took home six Art Ross trophies – given to the league’s point total leader.
- Jaromir Jagr, 766 goals
Jagr came close to 800 goals, but he was still a point scoring machine. He accumulated 1,155 assists which propelled him to number two on the all-time point scoring list at 1,921. He has also scored 135 game-winning goals, which is the most among players ranked on this list.
Jagr has two Stanley Cups under his belt, coming in back-to-back years. He is considered one of the game’s ironmen for his longevity, and actually still plays professionally in the Czech Republic. He has made seven NHL First All-Star Teams and won the Art Ross Trophy five times. In 1999 he won his only Hart Memorial Trophy.
- Brett Hull, 741 goals
What’s impressive about Hull’s 741 goals is that he did it in 1,269 games. In terms of games played to goals scored ratios, Hull’s is the best among players on this list. He won two Stanley Cups with two different franchises (Dallas and Detroit), while also taking home the 1991 Hart Memorial Trophy.
- Marcel Dionne, 731 goals
Marcel Dionne ranks right outside the top five for all-time points scored at 1,771. He was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1992.
- Phil Esposito, 717 goals
Esposito is one of eight players to accumulate over 700 goals in his career. He has just over 1,500 total points and a very high 246 total power play goals. Esposito won the Art Ross trophy five times and was a two-time recipient of the Hart Memorial Trophy. In 1987 the Boston Bruins retired his jersey number with his help in winning two Stanley Cups while with the team.
- Mike Gartner, 708 goals
Mike Gartner is the final player to reach the 700 goal milestone, recording 708 in his career. Gartner scored more goals than assists recorded, joining Ovechkin as the only other player to do that within the top 18.
In 2008 the Washington Capitals retired his jersey number, seven years after he was inducted in the NHL Hall of Fame. He is tied with both Ovechkin and Jagr for most consecutive 30-goal seasons with 15, and owns multiple Washington Capitals records such as long point streak at 17 games.
- Mark Messier, 694 goals
Messier almost had 700 goals, just six short of the milestone. He did, however, accumulate 1,193 total assists to reach a near 2,000 total career points. His other big statistical achievement is that he scored 63 shorthanded goals, 10 shy of the Great One.
Messier has six total Stanley Cup trophies, winning with the Oilers and the Rangers. His wins made him the first player in NHL history to captain two different Stanley Cup franchises. He is also a two-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy.
- Steve Yzerman, 692 goals
Just like many of the other goal scorers on this list, Steve Yzerman has over 1,000 career assists. He has won three Stanley Cups, and actually has won another as an executive. In 1998 he took home the Conn Smythe. He has more assists than any other player in Red Wings’ history.
Who’s the Active NHL Player with the Most Goals?
Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is the current active leader for most goals scored. He has over 800 total career goals and over 400 more than Sidney Crosby, who has the second-most goals scored among active players. Crosby does, however, have over 200 more assists than Ovechkin.
Ovechkin vs. Gretzky: Could the Record Be Broken?
It’s very unlikely Ovechkin passes Gretzky’s record, as he needs around 70 more to pass him. This would require just one 50-goal season, but those aren’t as easy to come by for Ovechkin, who turns 38 in September. If he is able to extend his career the way Jagr did, then he should pass the Great One.
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