Points may be a bit harder to come by in today’s NHL, but it wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t unusual to see several players reach the 50 or 60-goal mark in a season a few decades ago and also break the 100-point barrier on a regular basis. In fact, defensemen used to rack up 100 points back then and challenge for the Art Ross Trophy. While that’s not the case anymore, we’ll take a look back in time and feature 14 Unbelievable Point Totals From NHL Defensemen.
These include achievements by Hall of Famers and a few journeymen that were set during both the regular season and the playoffs. Some of these records may never be broken, such as the most points in a season at 139 and the most goals in a game at five by a defenseman. The career marks for goals, assists, and points may be passed in time, but it’s going to take a combination of both longevity and a lot of talent.
Former Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche defender Ray Bourque holds numerous NHL records for a defenseman, including the most goals, assists, and points. Paul Coffey isn’t too far behind him, in several categories and also holds several records of his own. It may take a very long time to break many of these records though since the current highest-scoring NHL defenseman is Dan Boyle of the New York Rangers with 605 career points, which is close to 1,000 behind Bourque’s mark of 1,579.
14 28 Career Shorthanded Goals - Mark Howe
Defensemen don’t often score shorthanded goals, but Mark Howe, who played 929 regular-season games from 1979-80 to 1994-95 with the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Detroit Red Wings, managed to bang in 28 of them during his career. This is the most ever for a blueliner and places the son of Gordie Howe in a 27th-place tie all-time for shorthanded goals in the regular season. Howe was no slouch playing five on five and on the power play either as he finished his career with 742 points in 929 regular-season games.
13 60 Career Game-Winning Goals - Ray Bourque
Since Ray Bourque scored the most regular-season goals by a defenseman with 410, it makes sense that he also leads all blue liners in game-winning markers with 60. Bourque finally managed to win the Stanley Cup with Colorado during his final season, but didn’t score as many game winners in the playoffs with just four of them in 214 games. However, his regular season game-winning goal total is more than impressive for a defenseman.
12 173 Career Power Play Goals - Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque’s 173 power play goals is tops for defensemen. Bourque’s hard, accurate shot from the point served him well during his record-setting career, but he didn’t always have to rely on the big slap shot. He’d often use his wrist shots to make sure the puck found its way to the net rather than trying to blast it through the mesh. Al MacInnis, who ranks second all-time in power play goals for a defenseman with 166, scored at a better rate as he played fewer regular-season games than Bourque. MacInnis added 26 more extra-man goals in the playoffs while Bourque had another 15.
11 Most Assists in a Game by a Defenseman - 6
Six different blue liners hold the record for the most assists in a regular-season NHL game by a defenseman with six. Hall of Famer and former Hart Trophy winner Babe Pratt set the mark in January of 1944 while with the Maple Leafs. Pat Stapleton of Chicago tied the record in March of 1969 while Bobby Orr of Boston equaled it in January, 1973. Pittsburgh Penguins’ defender Ron Stackhouse repeated the feat in March of 1975 and also managed to tie a league record of four assists in a period in the same game. Paul Coffey of Edmonton and Gary Suter of Calgary then both managed to record six assists in a game in 1986.
10 Most Goals in a Game by a Defenseman - 5
Back on February 2nd, 1977, Ian Turnbull of the Toronto Maple Leafs set an NHL record with five goals in a game by a defenseman. Turnbull achieved the feat at home at Maple Leaf Gardens against the Detroit Red Wings in a 9-1 rout. He also set a league record by scoring the five goals on just five shots. Turnbull played from 1973/74 to 1982/83 and was often paired with Hall of Famer and Swedish legend Borje Salming. Turnbull scored 440 points in 628 regular-season games with Toronto, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. He also added 45 points in 55 playoff outings. Turnbull’s 79 points in the 1976/77 season is also a record for a Maple Leafs’ defenceman.
9 Most Points in a Game by a Defenseman - 8
Both Tom Bladon and Paul Coffey managed to score eight points in a single game during their careers, which is the all-time high for a defenseman. Bladon set the mark back on December 11th, 1977 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He scored four goals and four assists in an 11-1 victory over the old Cleveland Barons and, at the time, became just the fourth player in NHL history to score eight points in a game. He also set a record with a plus-10 rating in that contest. Bladon finished his NHL career with 270 points in 610 regular-season games with another 37 points in 86 postseason outings. Coffey tied the record on March 14th, 1986 when he scored a pair of goals and added half a dozen assists in a 12-3 win over Detroit.
8 76 Points by a Rookie Defenseman - Larry Murphy
Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Murphy made a huge splash during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Kings as he scored 76 points for an NHL record. Murphy netted 16 goals and added a rookie record for defensemen with 60 assists. Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers set the record for rookie defensemen in goals with 23 in 1988/89. Murphy played from 1980 to 2001 with LA, Washington, Minnesota , Pittsburgh, Toronto and Detroit and managed to win a pair of Stanley Cups with both the Penguins and Red Wings. Murphy finished his career with 1,216 points in 1,615 regular season games to rank as the fifth-highest scoring defenseman ever and tied for 42nd on the all-time list. He also added 152 points in 215 playoff encounters.
7 37 Playoff Points in a Season by a Defenseman - Paul Coffey
Paul Coffey managed to set an NHL record for defensemen in the 1984/85 season when he racked up 37 points on 12 goals and 25 assists in just 18 games, which ranks sixth-best all-time. The 25 assists are tied for sixth all-time regardless of position and his 2.056 points-per-game rank tenth in the playoffs. However, his Edmonton Oiler teammate Wayne Gretzky one-upped him that postseason by scoring 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points. Needless to say, the Oilers won the Stanley Cup that year by beating Philadelphia in five games.
6 139 Points in a Season by a Defenseman - Bobby Orr
The great Bobby Orr holds the NHL record for the most points in a season by a defenseman when he scored 139 of them on 37 goals and a record 102 assists back in the 1970/71 campaign. He also added 12 more in seven playoff matches that year. The 139 points in a season ranks tied for 25th all-time. He scored at a pace of 1.782 points-per game with just five of his goals coming on the power play. The Hall of Famer also posted an incredible mark of +124 that campaign to set an NHL season record. Paul Coffey came close to equaling Orr’s point record in 1985/86, but fell short by a single point with 138 on the season. Orr finished his career with six 100-point seasons while Coffey had five.
5 1.393 Points-per-game by a Defenseman - Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr stands out as the top-scoring defenceman of all time when it comes to points-per-game at 1.393 points per contest, which also ranks him fourth on the all-time list behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy. Orr managed to find the back of the net 270 times and add 645 assists for 915 points in just 657 outings. The next-best defenseman is Paul Coffey at 1.087 points-per-game. Orr also scored over a point a game in the playoffs with 92 of them in 74 games as he helped the Bruins win Stanley Cups in 1969/70 and 1971/72.
4 48 goals in a Season by a Defenseman - Paul Coffey
The 1985/86 campaign was another unforgettable one for Paul Coffey as he had a record-setting regular season with his 48 goals. Coffey beat the old record of 46 goals by a defenseman, which Bobby Orr set in 1974/75. Coffey added 90 assists for 138 points in 79 games that season to fall short of Orr’s single-season points record by just one point. It was the second and last time that Coffey would reach the 40-goal mark during his career.
3 1,169 career assists by a defenseman - Ray Bourque
It might not be hard to guess who holds the NHL record for career assists in the regular season with 1,169. If you guessed Ray Bourque, then you’re on the ball and his assists total ranks fourth all-time in the league. Bourque beats out Paul Coffey, who is ranked second all-time with his 1,135 helpers. The former Bruin and Avalanche player added another 139 assists in the playoffs for a combined total of 1,308 assists while Coffey combined the regular and postseasons for 1,272.
2 410 Career Goals by a Defenseman - Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque is the NHL’s all-time defenseman leader in goals with 410 of them in his 1,612 career regular-season games. Bourque scored at a pace of .254 goals a game to top the list over Paul Coffey’s 396 career goals. Bourque added another 41 goals in the postseason and helped the Colorado Avalanche capture the Stanley Cup in 2000/01 in his second year with the club. Bourque spent the first 20 years of his career in Boston and retired at the age of 40 after achieving his goal of winning the championship.
1 1,579 Career Points by a Defenseman - Ray Bourque
Once again we find Ray Bourque leading the way on this list with his 1,579 points being the most ever by a defenseman and 11th overall. Paul Coffey comes in as runner up again at 1,531 points. Bourque also racked up another 180 points in 214 playoff games which gives him a grand total of 1,759 points in the regular season and the postseason combined which is also a league record and just ahead of Coffey’s 1,727 points.