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NHL teams are scoring an average of 3.16 goals per game this season. If this continues, it will be the highest in a full season since 1993-94, when Wayne Gretzky scored 130 points and captured the last of his 10 league titles attempting an 84-game season.
Much has changed in the thirty years since then. Big One, for example, is now a 61-year-old grandparent and gambler shooter. However, in some ways, everything is back in the early 90s. As ratings (which now tend to rise for most of the decade) continue to rise, some players are accumulating Gretzky-like numbers, and the league is even reportedly considering returning to 84 games. Here’s a look at some of the most eye-catching artists in this nostalgia scene:
The NHL score leader reached a 60-point plateau in just his 31st game last week. That’s the fastest since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux set a record 21 games (c’mon!) and Pittsburgh teammate Jaromir Jagr played 29 games. McDavid has now scored 64 points in 33 competitions—stepping 159 points. Only two players in history have played so many jerseys: the number 99 and the number 66.
With a 10-point lead (above Edmonton teammate Leon Draisaitl) in the scoring race, 25-year-old McDavid is poised to claim his fifth Art Ross Trophy, surpassing only Gretzky (10), Howe (6). ) and Lemieux (6) by far the most. But the scariest thing about McDavid right now is that he has apparently decided to become the best striker in the world. With 28 goals already, he’s the first Rocket Richard Trophy winner and at a pace of 70. No one has scored this many since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne each scored 76 goals in 1992-93.
Last week in Chicago, the Washington Capitals star scored a hat-trick, becoming the third player in history to hit 800 regular season goals. Ovechkin had a second chance at catching Gordie Howe on the all-time roster against Detroit (Mr. Hockey’s primary team) last night, but couldn’t handle another storybook moment.
Still, it’s almost inevitable that Ovechkin will surpass Howe and possibly Gretzky as well. The 37-year-old Russian shows no signs of slowing down as he races towards his second season with 50 goals and the 10th season of his career. Even if Ovechkin maintains a career rate of 0.61 goals per game (slightly better than Gretzky’s) or eventually begins to age like a normal person, he should still beat 99th place in the 2024-25 season.
McDavid shows off his Gretzky/Lemieux impression, while Karlsson does his best Bobby Orr. The 32-year-old San Jose defender is enjoying his comeback season with 41 points in 33 games to recapture the offensive form he showed before Ottawa traded him to the Sharks in 2018. He became the first defender to reach 100 points in 31 years.
Tage Thompson and Jason Robertson
After enjoying groundbreaking seasons last year, these two young forwards, both from the American Sunbelt, are now second and third in goals and third and fourth in points.
Thompson is a 25-year-old, 1.80-foot-tall center born in the Phoenix area. He made headlines earlier this month with a rare five-goal game for the Buffalo Sabers, now just two behind McDavid with 26 goals in 32 games. That’s a pace of 67 goals. Brett Hull is the only American to score that many goals in one season.
Robertson is a 23-year-old winger born in the Los Angeles area who is one of the few players of Filipino descent to play in the NHL. In October, he turned his groundbreaking 41-goal season with Dallas into a four-year, $31 million US contract. This seems like a bargain for the Stars, as Robertson is fourth in the points race with former MVP Nikita Kucherov in 47 to 33 games and third with 24 goals.