Here’s the thing about milestones; it doesn’t matter what achievement has been reached, it means you’ve been doing something for a long, long time and you’ve been doing it well.
It’s one thing to make it to the NHL, but to stay there for an extended period of time is another thing.
Here are a few stats for the average NHLer:
The average NHL player will appear in 248 games, or just over three seasons, scoring 43 career goals and 112 points. That works out to 14 goals and 37 points per season.
In the low scoring era of the 1990s, 2000s and today, those numbers are probably considered high; last season there were only 179 players who had 37 points or more (out of 882 who played). Every year, fans get to witness players overcome the odds, make history by reaching certain milestones which will never be seen by most players. There are players that have spent years and years grinding away, chipping in here and there, getting hot, playing through slumps, and maybe having a bit of luck while re-writing the record books.
Milestones are great, because they give fans the opportunity to look back at some of the legends of the sport and what they accomplished during their career. It give those players a chance to be remembered and celebrated for their ground-breaking moments.
It also allows fans to take a moment to appreciate the history we’ve been slowly watching develop before our eyes.
Here’s a list of the top 15 milestones to watch for during the 2015-16 NHL season:
15 Zdeno Chara
The big Slovak and captain of the Boston Bruins, Chara has built himself quite a career. He’s won a Norris (2009), has been named to the NHL First or Second All-Star team seven times, and won a Stanley Cup in 2011.
Chara will look to surpass two milestones this season; he needs to play in five games to hit 1,200 GP. If he’s assessed 61 penalty minutes, which shouldn’t be a problem since he’s averaged 1.38 per game, he’ll have 1,700 PIM, which would put him 89th on the all-time list, and 30th among defensemen.
14 Joe Thornton
Let’s be honest, the only milestone most people want to see Thornton hit, is scoring four goals in a game. Until that happens, we can looks forward to these.
Thorton has become known as one of the premiere set-up men in the league. He needs 26 assists to move into 17th on the all-time list, 35 assists will move him into 14th and 56 into 13th. Since he’s averaged 0.7 assists per game, he has a good shot of moving up that list.
Thornton will also hit the 1,300 GP mark once he plays 15 games this season, passing names like Dave Keon and Pierre Turgeon.
13 Marc-Andre Fleury
It’s a little bit crazy that Fleury is already 30 years old, and has been in the NHL for parts of 11 seasons, missing a full season and then half of another because of the lockouts.
He’ll play in his 600th game this season, he only needs five more to reach that milestone, moving to 45th on the all-time list.
He also needs two shutouts to get this 40th of his career, which shouldn’t be much of a problem considering he had 10 all of last season. Once he hits 40, he’ll be tied with John Vandiesbrouck and Frank Brimsek at 34th all-time.
12 Chris Neil
At the age of 36, Neil’s career probably won’t be lasting much longer, especially with his style of play.
The longtime enforcer of the Ottawa Senators needs just sux penalty minutes to hit the 2,300 PIM mark. He’s the active NHL leader in that category, way ahead of Zdeno Chara (1649 PIM).
Neil had 78 PIM in 2014-15 appearing in only 38 games, suffering through multiple injuries. In 2013-14, he was assessed 211 PIM while playing in 76 games, so it seems like it will all depend on how many games he suits up for.
He is currently 34th on the all-time penalty minute list.
11 Sergei Gonchar
Gonchar is still looking for a permanent place to play next season, sort of. The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed him to a try-out deal and at the tender age of 41, Gonchar probably has a decent chance of making the team.
If he does make the cut, Gonchar is 9 assists away from tallying his 600th career assist, which would make him only the 17th defenseman in NHL history to hit the mark.
It might be a bit of a long-shot, but if Gonchar can get 28 assists, he’ll move into a tie with fellow Russian, Sergei Zubov for the most assists by a Russian defenseman.
10 Jonathan Quick
Quick’s trophy case is already well stocked with two Stanley Cups (2012, 2014), a Conn Smythe (2012), a Jennings Trophy (2014), and he was named Second Team All-Star in 2012.
With three more shutouts, Quick will have hit 40 in his career. He currently has just one less than Marc-Andre Fleury, but Quick has done it while playing in 188 less games.
Quick currently ranks 41st on the all-time list, tied with Tommy Salo and Johnny Bower.
9 Steven Stamkos
Stamkos is entering only his seventh NHL season, and at the age of 25 he’s already nearing poised to surpass some very prolific NHLers.
The first milestone Stamkos will attain, will be getting his 500th point; he only needs to score two to get there, which he will probably do before he even plays in his 500th game, (he’s played in 492).
The second milestone, which will be a little more difficult but should still be manageable for Stamkos is getting to goal number 300. He needs to score 24 goals to reach it, but considering he’s scored more than 25 every year but his rookie season, a healthy Stamkos means we'll see it this year.
8 Shane Doan
The only remaining player to have played with the original Winnipeg Jets, Doan is currently second on the games played list, among active players.
Once Doan suits up in six more games, he’ll hit the 1,400 GP mark, becoming the 34th player in NHL history to achieve the milestone.
Doan will also register his 900th point and should move into the top 100 point scorers by the end of the season, needing only 10 points to tie Scott Stevens who holds down that spot.
7 Daniel & Henrik Sedin
Why wouldn’t these two go together?
The Sedin twins will both play in their 1,100th game this season. Henrik will be the first to pass the mark, since he only needs to play in eight games and Daniel should get there midway through the season, as he needs to play in 39 games.
It’s a bit of a long-shot, but Henrik needs 85 points to reach the 1,000 point mark too. The last time he scored that many points was in 2010-11 when he had 94 points.
Daniel needs 19 points to hit the 900 point mark, which should happen for him this season, since he’s never scored less than 31 points on a season.
6 Patrick Marleau
Having spent his entire career with the San Jose Sharks, Marleau needs only 12 points to become part of the 1,000 point club, something that has only been done by 82 people.
Marleau will become just the 14th player to score all 1,000 with the same team.
Marleau hasn’t missed a regular season game since the 2008-09 campaign, so he has a chance to play in his 1,400 game as well, needing to play in 71 games. If he were to keep up his scoring rate, he could easily break into the top 70 scorers of all time.
5 Henrik Lundqvist
Already Sweden’s winningest goalie, Lundqvist has been one of the league’s elite goalies since he broke in at the age of 23, five years after being drafted in the 7th round by the New York Rangers.
With 11 wins this season, Lundqvist will hit the 350 wins mark, becoming the 19th player to ever to that. Once he does that, he’ll need only four wins to surpass Evgeni Nabokov and six wins to pass Rogie Vachon.
With three more shutouts, Lundqvist will move into 19th on the all-time list; five shutouts will move him into 17th.
4 Alexander Ovechkin
At 29, Ovechkin is right around the mid-point of his NHL career (assuming he stays in North America), and he’s already moved through the record books.
The first milestone he’ll hit this season, will be scoring his 900th point, he only needs to score five points to reach the achievement, and he’ll need 15 or so to move into the top 100 on the all-time list.
Ovechkin needs 25 goals to reach the 500-goal club which has only been reached by 42 players. If he scores 50 again this season, he’ll pass over legends like Jean Beliveau, Jeremy Roenick, and Bryan Trottier.
3 Roberto Luongo
Under contract into his 40s, Luongo could still manage to move within the record books. He already has the most wins for two franchises, the Vancouver Canucks (252) and the Florida Panthers (142).
With three more wins, Luongo will move into 9th on the all-time list, passing Grant Fuhr. With seven more wins, he’ll pass Glenn Hall for 8th on the list and with 23 more wins, he’ll pass Tony Esposito for 7th.
Luongo needs just two shutouts to get his 70th career shutout, which would make him one of 13 players to achieve the mark. Four shutouts would move him into 11th on the all-time list, and nine shutouts would move him past Ed Belfour and Esposito for 9th all-time.
2 Jarome Iginla
It’s hard to imagine it’s been almost 12 years since Iginla last won the Maurice Richard Trophy. Iginla spent 16 seasons with the Calgary Flames, which is where he enjoyed his most productive years.
Iginla needs to play in just eight games to reach the 1,400 GP milestone, which should be the first one he gets to, unless Iginla goes on a tear at the beginning of the season.
He needs 11 goals to score his 600th of his career, and he needs 13 goals to move past Jari Kurri for 18th place on the all-time list. Scoring 20 goals will move him past Dino Ciccarelli and 22 goals will get him in 16th place, past Bobby Hull.
1 Jaromir Jagr
Let’s be real, every season that Jagr is still playing in the NHL, fans should be looking to see what ground he’s about break.
Jagr needs to play in 15 games to move to 10th place on the all-time list, and 50 games to hit the 1,600 GP club.
He needs to score 10 goals to become the 4th highest goal-scorer, moving ahead of Marcel Dionne.
He needs 20 assists to hit 1,100 career assists.
Lastly, Jagr needs 49 points to move into 3rd all-time, passing Gordie Howe.
Imagine if the NHL wouldn’t have missed five years of Jagr playing in the KHL as well as missing a full season and two half seasons because of lockouts. Jagr will be remembered as one of the top 3 players to every play, certainly the best player not from North America.