Despite a short upward trend in goals scored, the National Hockey League (NHL) has once again become a difficult league to score goals. In 1992, for instance, there was an average of 7.25 goals per game, but that number dropped to 5.14 in 2003 just before the lockout. One of the main issues discussed during that lockout year was the lack of goals, and, upon returning in 2005, the league appeared to fix that problem as there was 6.05 goals scored per game. It didn't last, however, as the number steadily dipped to a low of 5.31 in 2012.
While it's true it's now harder than ever to score in the NHL, scoring is also more balanced as coaches employ more advanced line matching strategies and actually use their third and fourth lines, which aren't just comprised of checkers and fighters. That was particularly evident during the 2016-17 season as only three players reached the 40-goal mark, while only 26 scored 30 goals. In comparison, 11 players reached 40 goals in 2005-06, while 47 scored 30 goals, including lesser known players like Petr Prucha and Michael Ryder - and they aren't even on this list. That should give you an idea of the type of player it took to reach the mark in recent years.
15 Jason Allison
If you happened to watch Jason Allison during his final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, you would be surprised to learn that he ever reached the 20-goal mark during his career. The North York, Ontario native was the butt end of jokes in Toronto for his lack of foot speed and inability to finish, despite registering 60 points in 66 games. Surprising, then, is the fact that Allison twice scored 30-plus goals in his nine-year NHL career.
Despite his lack of speed, the center had plenty of offensive talent, which is evidenced by the fact he had 485 points in 552 career games, but he was primarily lauded for his playmaking ability - he recorded 50-plus assists in four of his nine seasons. However, in 1997-98, Allison scored 33 goals as a member of the Boston Bruins and later had a career season in 2000-01 with 36 goals and 59 assists.
14 Joe Thornton
Sticking with slow, dynamic offensive players best known for their playmaking abilities, we present Joe Thornton. Now, before you get out the pitchforks, we must preface this with our belief that Jumbo Joe - and his beard - is Hall of Fame worthy, but given he hasn't reached the 20 goal mark since the 2010-11 season, it's a little hard to remember him being a 30-goal scorer.
In fact, in 1,446 regular season games, Thornton has just 384 goals, but has assisted on a whopping 1,007 goals. Playmaking has always been his strength, but early in his career he had more of a knack for finding the back of the net. In his fourth year in the league, as a member of the Boston Bruins, he scored a career-high 37 goals and, two seasons later, tallied 36 in a 101-point season. In 12 seasons with the San Jose Sharks, his season-high goal total is 29.
13 Jonathan Cheechoo
We mentioned the all-around offensive ability of Joe Thornton above, specifically his magic mittens and ability to dish the puck. There's no better testament to Jumbo's playmaking ability than the fact he helped Jonathan Cheechoo not only become a 30-goal scorer, but a 56-goal scorer during the 2005-06 season. Cheechoo, like Thornton, was never really fleet of foot, but he had a quick release and ability to find the back of the net when given the puck at the right time.
So, almost inexplicably, he scored 56 goals and added 37 assists in 05-06, after recording just 47 points the year prior. He scored 37 the following season, but then suffered a drastic downturn, failing to surpass 25 goals throughout the rest of his career and exiting the NHL after the 2009-10 season. He has played the past four seasons in the KHL, where he has regained some of his scoring touch, but isn't posting anywhere near the numbers Thornton helped him reach with the Sharks.
12 Jussi Jokinen
A sixth round pick of the Dallas Stars in the 2001 NHL Draft, Jussi Jokinen has developed a reputation as a skilled offensive player who can add scoring depth to a team's second line and even play a bottom-six role. He isn't, however, known as a dominant goal-scoring winger; even playing alongside Sidney Crosby with the Penguins in 2013-14, he scored just 21 goals.
Yet, in 2009-10, as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, Jokinen scored 30 goals and added 35 assists in 81 games. He was aided by Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and veteran Ray Whitney, both of whom are lauded for their playmaking abilities. Jokinen has only topped 20 goals twice in his 13-year career, but has been a consistent point producer, evidenced by his 546 points in 891 regular season games.
11 Mikael Samuelsson
Mikael Samuelsson was a floundering talent likely on his way out of the league prior to receiving a free agent invite to Detroit's training camp in 2005. He previously played sparingly for the Sharks, Rangers, Penguins, and Panthers, but was adamant on playing in the league following the 2004 lockout. Detroit gave him that opportunity and he flourished. He made the team in 05-06 and scored 23 goals in 71 games.
In his next three seasons with the team, Samuelsson scored 14, 11, and 19 goals and earned himself a three-year, $7.5 million contract from the Vancouver Canucks. He had a career-year in his first year with the team, scoring 30 goals and adding 23 assists for 53 points in 74 games - thanks Henrik and Daniel Sedin. He failed to top 20 goals in each of the next five seasons before retirement.
10 Alex Burrows
Alex Burrows, while hated by most hockey fans outside of Vancouver and perhaps now Ottawa, embodies the perseverance required to carve out a career as a professional hockey player. Undrafted out of junior, he played two seasons in the ECHL before becoming a regular with Vancouver's AHL affiliate in Manitoba. He made his NHL debut a year and a half later with the Canucks and proved himself a valuable agitating force on the team's fourth line.
That appeared to be his ceiling, but, like Samuelsson above, playing with the Sedins can elevate the skills of even the most stone-handed forwards. Burrows topped 25 goals in four consecutive seasons from 2008-12; in 2009-10 he recorded a career-high 35 goals. Through 842 games, Burrows has 199 career goals.
9 Dustin Penner
Edmonton - and Los Angles, Anaheim, and Washington - fans had enough of Dustin Penner prior to the end of his tenure with the team. Given his somewhat lazy reputation, it might be easy to forget that, in 2009-10, the big-bodied winger scored 32 goals. An undrafted free agent signing by the Anaheim Ducks, Penner was tendered an offer sheet by the Oilers in the summer of 2007, which resulted in a fiery war of words between Ducks General Manager Brian Burke and Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe.
Fortunately for Burke, he declined to match the offer, which resulted in the Ducks receiving the Oilers first, second, and third draft pick in 2008. Penner's success in Edmonton was short-lived. He was dealt by the struggling franchise to the Los Angeles Kings at the 2011 trade deadline and played just three more seasons, failing to top 13 goals.
8 Matt Moulson
Not only did Matt Moulson score 30 goals in the NHL, but he did so in three consecutive seasons, in large part thanks to his friendship and on-ice chemistry with John Tavares. A former ninth round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2003 NHL Draft, Moulson went unsigned by Pittsburgh and, after four years at Cornell University, joined the Los Angeles Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester. He proved himself through two seasons in the AHL and earned 29 games over two seasons in the NHL. Yet, the Kings weren't impressed enough to offer him a contract extension.
So in the summer of 2009, Moulson signed with the Islanders and the following season scored 30 goals and added 18 assists, establishing himself as a proven finisher in the league. He scored 31 goals the following season and added a career-high 36 markers in 2011-12. Since moving on from the Islanders - and Tavares - he has failed to score more than 14 goals in a single season.
7 Brad Boyes
Brad Boyes is another player who, if going by recent memory, is hard to remember as a player who reached the 30-goal mark in the NHL. Like a lot of the players on this list, he was never really known for his foot speed, but possessed a decent shot and an ability to find the open spaces on the ice. In his first five seasons in the league, Boyes appeared to be on his way to sustaining his reputation as a goal scorer, but from 2009-16 he topped 20 goals only once.
Prior to 2009, however, Boyes reached the 30-goal plateau twice, including a 43-goal campaign in 2007-08 as a member of the St. Louis Blues. He scored 33 the following season and recorded a career-high 72 points, but it was all downhill from then on, as he would fail to surpass 42 points in each of the following seven seasons.
6 David Booth
A former second round pick of the Florida Panthers, David Booth had great potential early in his career, but the Michigan native was ultimately hampered by injuries and inconsistent play later in his career. He had a breakout sophomore campaign with the Panthers in 2007-08 with 22 goals and 18 assists and the following season he led the team in goals with 31, nine more than second-leading goal scorer Nathan Horton.
Booth was limited to just 28 games in 2009-10, however, and, although he bounced back with a 23-goal season in 2010-11, he was never quite the same. In his final season in the league, Booth scored just seven goals in 59 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played for Omsk Avangard of the KHL during the 2016-17 season and scored four goals in 19 games.
5 Daymond Langkow
Daymond Langkow was a dominant goal scorer in junior as a member of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans, but he was more so a second-tier scorer in the NHL. The Edmonton native scored 67 goals in 72 games in his third season with the Americans and, although that touch never translated to the NHL, he was a consistent 20-goal scorer.
With the Phoenix Coyotes, Langkow recorded three consecutive 20-goal seasons from 2002-04, but he enjoyed an increased scoring touch upon joining the Calgary Flames in 2005, perhaps owing to the fact he played alongside Jarome Iginla. Regardless, Langkow scored 33 goals in his second season with the Flames and followed that up with a 30-goal campaign in 2007-08. He retired in 2012 following an 11-goal season with the Coyotes.
4 Eric Daze
Along with Kyle Calder, Eric Daze was once thought to be the future of the Chicago Blackhawks. He and Calder were, in a sense, expected to be the team's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the mid-90s. Needless to say, that didn't quite work out, although it's easy to forget that Daze was in fact a talented goal scorer for awful Blackhawks teams of the 90s and early 2000s.
In fact, the 6-foot-6 Montreal native scored 30 goals as a rookie in 1995-96, which perhaps led to over-inflated expectations. While he was never really able to improve much upon those numbers, he did reach the 30-goal mark again in 1997-98, 2000-01, and 2001-02, when he scored a career-high 38 goals. Back injuries limited his career as he played in just 19 games during the 2003-04 season and one game in 2005-06 following the lockout.
3 Mark Parrish
Mark Parrish was a productive two-way winger throughout much of his 12-year NHL career, but he was never specifically known as a dominant goal-scoring threat. Through 722 career games, the Minnesota native scored 216 goals, 30 of which came during the 2001-02 season as a member of the New York Islanders. Parrish scored 30 and added 30 assists that season to finish second in team scoring behind Alexei Yashin and ahead of players like Shawn Bates, Oleg Kvasha, and Mariusz Czerkawski. What a time be to an Islanders fan.
He was most productive during his time with the Islanders; Parrish scored 20-plus goals in each of the next three seasons, but failed to reach the mark through the rest of his career. He retired from hockey in 2012 after playing 51 games for the AHL's Binghamton Senators.
2 Andy McDonald
Andy McDonald is a surprising 30-goal scorer because, like Parrish above, he was best known for his defensive play, especially as a member of the Anaheim Ducks' dominant shutdown line which included Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer and helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup in 2007. Yet, McDonald had his most productive offensive seasons that year as well as the year prior, scoring 27 and 34 goals respectively.
Prior to the 2004 lockout, the undrafted McDonald was primarily a third and fourth line center whose career high in goals was 10. He topped 20 goals in successive seasons with the St. Louis Blues, but was never able to replicate the offensive performance he accomplished in 2005-06. McDonald retired following the 2012-13 season with 489 points in 685 career games.
1 Mike Sillinger
Mike Sillinger tops the list because, despite his obvious talents and ability to be an impactful player, nobody seemed to want him. Or was it that he was so good that every team wanted him? Regardless, Sillinger owns the NHL record for most teams played for with 12. And while you might think that record would belong to a valuable fourth-line energy player with little scoring touch, Sillinger scored 20-plus goals four times throughout his career. In three of the four seasons he accomplished the feat, he did so between two teams.
The Saskatchewan native scored 22 goals in 48 games as a member of the St. Louis Blues during the 2005-06 season and, looking to continue the trend of dealing Sillinger at the trade deadline, the Blues shipped him off to Nashville, where he scored 10 goals in 31 games, giving him a combined total of 32 goals in 79 games. Sillinger retired in 2009 with 240 career goals in 1,049 games.