Throughout league history, more than 7,100 skaters have stepped foot on NHL ice. Nearly 2,300 of those players have scored at least 100 points. Exactly 1,500 have netted 200 points. Only 486 have managed to score 500 points. And entering action Sunday night, there were only 89 players who had managed to become millennium men, reaching or surpassing the 1,000-point milestone in their respective careers.
Well, go ahead and make it 90.
When Patrick Kane picked up the secondary assist on Brandon Saad’s insurance goal in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win over the visiting Winnipeg Jets Sunday night, the 31-year-old became the latest player to reach the 1,000-point plateau. He became the 19th-youngest player in NHL history to achieve the milestone and accomplished the feat in the 43rd-fewest (953) games among all players who have scored at least 1,000 points in the NHL.
For how rare the achievement is, however, Kane isn’t the only player to reach the milestone this season. As luck would have it, in fact, Kane was able to watch another player hit 1,000 points up close this season, as Eric Staal’s 1,000th-point came in a mid-December game against – you guessed it – the Chicago Blackhawks.
Now that Kane (and Staal) have hit the milestone this season, when should we expect the NHL to have its next 1,000-point player and who will that player be? Here’s a look at the five players who should be next to reach the milestone:
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks – 956 points
Even though his best days are behind him, the rebuilding Ducks still rely heavily on Getzlaf. How heavily? He’s leading all Anaheim forwards with an average ice time just shy of 19 minutes per outing and he’s four points clear of Jakob Silfverberg for the team lead in scoring. Getzlaf’s 33 points in 46 games put him on pace to finish the season with 57 before season’s end, as well, which would push his career total to a healthy 980 heading into next season. So, while Getzlaf won’t reach the 1,000-point plateau this campaign, he’s certain to reach it in 2020-21.
It just so happens, too, that Getzlaf stands to become the first player in franchise history to score 1,000 points with the organization. He’ll likely surpass Teemu Selanne (988 points) early next season. Next season will be the final year of Getzlaf’s pact, too, so he’s all but certain to accomplish the feat in an Anaheim jersey. (And really, can you even picture Getzlaf in any other threads?)
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings – 931 points
By suggesting Getzlaf is next to 1,000 points, the assumption is he remains healthy heading into and throughout the 2020-21 season and that Kopitar doesn’t go on an absolute tear at any point in the near future. As it stands, Getzlaf holds a 25-point lead in scoring, but Kopitar should be able to whittle away the rival captain’s lead in the next few months. Consider that Kopitar, who has 10 points more than Getzlaf this season, is on pace to post another 32 by season’s end. That should close the gap between the two to 17 points, putting Kopitar at 963 career points by season’s end and 37 points away from the millennium mark.
Now, in order for Kopitar to beat Getzlaf to 1,000 points, he’d need to score at a pace that nearly doubles Getzlaf’s next season. Improbable? Certainly. Impossible? Not at all. Still, safe bet is that Getzlaf follows Kane and becomes the NHL’s next 1,000-point player…and then the Kopitar really begins.
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals – 911 points
Until early last week, there was technically a chance that Backstrom’s 1,000th point was going to come in a jersey other than the one he had scored the first 900-plus points of his career wearing. We say technically, of course, because if you believed for a second he was going to be anywhere but Washington next season, there’s a prince out there who is requesting your financial assistance and will repay you with part of his fortune. The moment Backstrom put pen to paper on a five-year, $46-million extension, he also made sure he’ll be rocking the red when he scores point No. 1,000.
But when does that milestone come? Not this season, as he’s only on pace to score another 30 points this season, leaving him 59 points shy of the mark entering the 2020-21 season. Backstrom scoring 60 points by the end of next campaign and becoming the second 1,000-point player in franchise history seems a near certainty, however.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins – 854 points
If it wasn’t for a lost 2007-08 season – Bergeron was sidelined all but 10 games after suffering a concussion – the Bruins pivot would be much further along in his pursuit of the 1,000-point milestone. In fact, he’d probably be ahead or right alongside Backstrom on this list. The good news, though, is that Bergeron is still a virtual lock to score 1,000 points in the not-too-distant future. As it stands, he’s set to score another 32 points before the season is through, which should put him in the 885 range by season’s end and on the cusp of the 900-point plateau. Here’s where we should note that if he manages to up his scoring pace only slightly and finishes the campaign with at least 76 points, he’ll have 889 career points and surpass Bobby Orr (888 points) on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list.
As for the 1,000-point mark, Bergeron is probably looking at another campaign and a half before he celebrates the milestone. His health has often been an obstacle – he hasn’t played more than 65 games in either of the past two seasons – but, if all goes well, his 1.07 points per game rate over the past two-plus campaigns suggests he can score his 1,000th point before mid-season in 2021-22.
Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes – 854 points
There was a time when Kessel would have been ahead of Bergeron on this list. Truth be told, had the Pittsburgh Penguins dealt him away to almost any other organization, Kessel probably sits ahead of Bergeron on this list. That’s not at all a knock on Bergeron, who is almost unassailable, but a commendation of Kessel’s scoring ability. He had scored 244 points over the past three seasons, nearly 50 points more than Bergeron.
Playing in Arizona, though, Kessel’s point totals are going to dip by simple virtue of the style of play the Coyotes have adopted. They’re a defensively stifling outfit that picks its spots to attack. That bears out in Kessel’s production this season, as his 31 points through 51 games put him on pace to finish with 50 points by season’s end. That would be his lowest total since his sophomore campaign, and that’s including the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
Kessel still seems certain to hit 1,000 points, mind you. It might just take him a while longer. If he averages two more 50-point seasons during the years remaining on his pact, he’ll be 27 points shy entering the 2022-23 season. That’s the season to expect him to score his 1,000th point.
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