Since there have been a grand total of 43 players to reach the 500-goal milestone in the NHL there’s 28 of them that didn’t make this list. These include some of the most prolific goal scorers of all time such as Brett Hull, Phil Esposito, Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Luc Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan, Mike Modano and Dave Andreychuk. However, we’ve picked the top 15 NHL players in the 500-goal club based on a few different things. We’ve included criteria such as leadership, overall hockey skills, charisma, and their flair for the dramatic, as well as for entertaining fans.
A dozen of these 15 players are already in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But the only reason they’re all not inducted as of now is because Teemu Selanne has to wait the five-year eligibility period since he retired and Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Ovechkin are still active. However, you can bet the house and your neighbour’s house that all three of these 500-club stars will step foot in the hallowed hall as soon as they become eligible. These players were so good, there’s no way they could be left off the list. Many of them were team captains, played on Stanley Cup winners, and also took home several individual pieces of silverware during their fine careers.
They all had a positive effect on the game of hockey with many of them being trailblazers, true icons, and legends. Unfortunately, a few players on the list suffered serious injuries or setbacks during their careers and retired earlier than fans had hoped. In addition, a few players such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe all played in the WHA while Jagr spent a few seasons in the KHL. It’s fun to imagine what those players could have achieved if they had spent their entire careers in the NHL.
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15 Guy Lafleur
Who can forget the sight of Guy Lafleur streaking down the right wing for the Montreal Canadiens with his Donald-Trump hairstyle blowing in the breeze? Lafleur was one of the NHL’s most popular stars from 1971 to 1991 with the Habs, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques, ending his career with 560 goals and 1,353 points in 1,126 contests. ‘The Flower’ was the first NHLer to score at least 100 points and 50 goals in six consecutive campaigns and the former number-one draft pick of 1971 also won five Stanley Cup rings with the Canadiens. Lafleur currently ranks 25th on the all-time goals list.
14 Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic’s 625 career goals ranks him 15th all time and he added 1,016 assists for 1,641 points in 1,378 games. He spent his entire 20-year career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise and was voted to play in 13 All-Star games as well as being named to the first All-Star team three times. The skilled centre was one of the best captains in NHL history and led the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup title in 1995-96 and again in 2000-01. Sakic was named the MVP of the 1995-96 postseason and of the 2000-01 regular season. He managed to reach the 50-goal mark twice and the 100-point plateau six times.
13 Jari Kurri
Right-winger Jari Kurri of Finland was a pure sniper with or without Wayne Gretzky as his centre. Kurri netted 601 goals in 1,251 games to rank 19th on the all-time list. He also chipped in with 797 assists for 1,398 points. Kurri also shone in the playoffs with another 233 points in 200 outings. Kurri skated with Edmonton, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers, Anaheim, and Colorado between 1980 and 1998 and led the league in scoring with 68 goals in 1985-86 with the Oilers. Kurri played on five Stanley Cup Championship teams, won a pair of Lady Byng trophies, and was named a first All-Star twice and a second team All-Star three times.
12 Steve Yzerman
Centre Steve Yzerman enjoyed a stellar NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings between 1983 and 2006. He netted 692 goals to currently rank ninth all time and added 1,063 assists for 1,755 points in 1,514 contests. His 185 points in 196 playoff games helped the Wings capture a trio of Stanley Cups. Yzerman captained Detroit for two decades and became the longest-serving skipper of any North American pro sports franchise in history. Yzerman also took home a Lester B. Pearson Award along with a Conn Smythe, Selke, and Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Yzerman was named to NHL’s All-Rookie team in 1984 and the First All-Star Team in 2000 and was the first 18-year-old to skate in an All-Star game.
11 Jean Beliveau
Classy Montreal Canadiens’ centre Jean Beliveau will always be known as ‘Le Gros Bill.’ He skated with the Habs from 1950 to 1971 and racked up 507 goals and 712 assists for 1,219 points in 1,125 games. He ranks 40th on the all-time list in goals and was the second NHL player to reach 1,000 points and the fourth to hit 500 goals. Beliveau took home a pair of Hart Trophies and led the league in scoring in 1955-56. Beliveau won 10 Stanley Cups with the Habs and was the first-ever winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1964-65 as the MVP of the playoffs.
10 Teemu Selanne
Right-winger Teemu Selanne was known throughout his career as 'The Finnish Flash' and could probably still be playing in the NHL today. He played 21 seasons in the league with Winnipeg, Anaheim, San Jose, and Colorado. He’s the highest scoring Finnish player in NHL history with his 684 goals, ranking 11th all time with his 1,457 points ranking 15th on that list. Selanne blew the doors off the NHL as a rookie in 1992-93 by scoring a record 76 goals and wining the Calder Trophy. Selanne topped 50 goals on three occasions and reached at least 100 points four times. He led the league in goals in 1998-99, captured the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2005-06, and won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2006-07.
9 Bobby Hull
'The Golden Jet 'was famous for barreling down the left wing with the Chicago Blackhawks at 30 miles-per-hour and unleashing one of the most fearsome slap shots the world of hockey has ever known. Even though Hull’s son Brett actually outscored his dad by 741 goals to 610, Bobby was a true hockey innovator, legend, and icon with Chicago, Winnipeg, and the old Harford Whalers. Hull posted 1,170 points in 1,063 NHL outings, won two Hart and three Art Ross Trophies. Hull helped Chicago win a Stanley Cup back in 1960/61. Hull was named to the First All-Star Team 10 times and the Second Team twice. His 610 goal rank him 17th on the all-time list.
8 Maurice Richard
There’s no way to leave fiery Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard off of this list. He was the first NHL player to score 500 goals and to hit 50 in a season, which he managed to do in 50 games during the 1944-45 campaign. The right-winger currently ranks 29th all time in goals with his 544 and let’s not forget the former Habs’ captain added 421 assists for 965 points in 978 games between 1942 and 1960. And of course, the Rocket Richard Trophy is now given out each season to the league’s top goalscorer. The Rocket was leading the league in career goals when he retired, but before he hung up his skates he also won eight Stanley Cups, a Hart Trophy, and was named to 14 NHL All-Star Teams. Richard was such a legend that the Hockey Hall of Fame decided to waive the five-year waiting period before inducting him.
7 Jaromir Jagr
The NHL was basically dominated by North Americans up until the 1970s when Europeans such as Borje Salming started to arrive and prove they were just as good. Jaromir Jagr will go down in history as the top-scoring European ever with his 749 goals, 1,119 assists, and 1,868 points, which all rank third-best in each category in NHL history. Jagr has achieved all of this in 1,629 regular-season games and he’s one of only two active players on this list. He’s just 20 points from passing Mark Messier and moving into second place on the all-time points list and should easily achieve this if he plays next season. Jagr would already be second overall if he didn’t leave the NHL for three years to play in Europe several seasons ago. We’ll wait until the 44-year-old finally retires to list all of his NHL achievements.
6 Alexander Ovechkin
Russian winger Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored the fifth-fasted 500 goals in NHL history when he achieved the feat against Ottawa this January in his 802nd game. He may only be ranked 33rd on the all-time goal list at the moment, but the 30-year-old former number-one draft pick could possibly play for another decade. Ovechkin is fifth all-time in goals per game, but the team captain is a complete player who can also pass and instill fear into opponents with his thunderous body checks. He was the Calder Trophy winner in 2005-06 with 106 points on 52 goals and 54 assists. Since then, Ovechkin has won six Rocket Richard Trophies for leading the league in goals as well as winning an Art Ross and Ted Lindsay Trophy along with two Hart Memorial and Lester B. Pearson Awards. The sky’s definitely the limit for the seven-time 50-goal scorer before he retires.
5 Mark Messier
Centre Mark Messier will go down in history as one of the NHL’s best all-time leaders and clutch performers. He’s currently hanging onto second place in all time scoring with 694 goals and 1,193 assists for 1,887 points in 1,756 games with 92 of his goals being game winners. Messier skated with Edmonton, the New York Rangers, and Vancouver between 1978 and 2004. He won six Stanley Cups and is the only player ever to captain two championship-winning franchises. Messier won a pair of Hart and Lester B. Pearson Awards along with a Conn Smythe Trophy. His 1,756 regular season games are the second-most in NHL history, just 11 behind Gordie Howe.
4 Mike Bossy
The New York Islanders’ Mike Bossy was one of the NHL’s best and most consistent goalscorers from 1977 to 1987 when he was forced to retire due to a back injury. The right-winger netted 573 goals in just 752 games, but he was an excellent playmaker too with 553 assists for 1,126 points. Bossy added 85 goals in 129 playoff games as a part of the Islanders’ dynasty that won four Stanley Cups in the 1980s. Bossy is currently the only NHL’er to score two straight Stanley-Cup winning goals and four game-winning goals in a playoff series. In addition, he’s the all-time leader in goals per game, ranks third for points per game, and once scored 50 goals in 50 games. In fact, he had a record nine-straight 50 goal campaigns and reached 60 five times. Bossy also brought home three Lady Byng Trophies as well as the Conn Smythe and Calder. One can only imagine what Bossy could have achieved if he didn’t retire prematurely.
3 Mario Lemieux
There’s no doubt former Pittsburgh Penguins centre Mario Lemieux will go down as one of the top five NHL players of all time. Lemieux won a boat load of awards during his career and currently sits at number three on the goals-per game list and is second in points-per game. He racked up 690 goals and 1,033 assists for 1,723 points in just 915 games between 1994 and 2006 and scored his 500th goal in his 605th contest. Lemieux captained his team to a pair of Stanley Cups by using his size and skill and will be known as one of the best stick handlers ever. He battled back from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and, in total, played just 915 out of a possible 1,428 regular-season contests between 1984-85 and 2005-06. Lemieux currently sits eighth in all-time points and could have been close to number one if he had remained healthy.
2 Wayne Gretzky
If centre Wayne Gretzky, 'The Great One,' was a one dimensional player as some critics point out, he surely owned that dimension. Gretzky basically rewrote the NHL’s offensive record books during his excellent career with Edmonton, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and the New York Rangers between 1979 and 1999. In fact, there’s no way to list his records since he owns 60 of them and many of them will never be broken. However, we must point out that he ranks number one all-time in goals with 894, assists with 1,963, and points with 2,857. He’s also the best ever in points-per game with 1.92 and has more assists than anybody else has total points. He also scored the fastest 500 goals by achieving the feat in 575 games. Gretzky won four Stanley Cups with Edmonton and is simply the best offensive hockey player ever. However, he ranks number two on this list next to his boyhood idol.
1 Gordie Howe
‘Mr. Hockey’ could do it all. Gordie Howe was the complete player who lived up to his name by excelling at everything including skating, scoring, hitting, fighting, and setting up teammates. Howe played the most career NHL regular-season games at 1,767 and racked up the fourth-most points in history at 1,850 with his second-ranked 801 goals and 1,049 assists. Howe played in the non-watered-down era of the six-team league, won four Stanley Cups with Detroit as well as six Hart and Art Ross Trophies and appeared in a record 23 All Star Games. He also set numerous other career firsts for NHL players and his legacy lives on with a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game still being known as a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. We should also remember that Howe’s totals would have been even higher if he never jumped to the old World Hockey Association (WHA) for six seasons.
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