If you happen to be good enough or lucky enough to score 50 goals in an NHL season the odds are pretty good that your team is going to make the playoffs. It’s not a guarantee though. Records show that the 50-goal barrier has been reached 186 times in the league by 90 different players ever since Rocket Richard became the first to achieve the feat back in the 1944-45 season. However, on about two dozen of those occasions, the 50-goal scorer wasn’t able to help his club make the postseason. We’re going to take a look at the top 15 times an NHL 50-goal scorer didn't make the playoffs.
Some of these players hit the half-century mark in goals just once in their careers and weren’t really able to celebrate the feat since their teams didn’t fare too well. Other players scored 50 goals multiple times and may have missed the postseason just once while the truly unlucky ones missed the playoffs more than once while scoring 50 goals. Some of the top scorers in NHL history are on the list, including Hall of Famers. Number one may come as a bit of a surprise, as not only did the player score 50 goals and miss the postseason, he actually netted 70 goals and 98 assists and his team finished last in its division.
15 Alexander Ovechkin 2005-06 and 2013-14
Russian sniper Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has posted a remarkable seven 50-goal seasons so far throughout his amazing career and has guaranteed himself a spot in the Hall of Fame. However, in two of those seasons his team failed to make the playoffs. The first of these came in 2005-06 when he scored 52 times in 81 games as a rookie. Washington finished 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference that year with just 70 points and were 22 points out of the last playoff spot. The Calder Trophy winner was named the left-winger on the First All-Star Team and finished third in league scoring with 106 points. Ovechkin also missed the playoffs in 2013-14 when Washington finished with 90 points, just three out of the playoffs. Ovechkin was the only 50-goal scorer that year as he led the league with 51 in 78 outings. He was eighth in total scoring with 79 points.
14 Rick Martin 1973-74
The fifth-place Buffalo Sabres had 76 points in the 1973-74 season, which were 10 back of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the last playoff spot in the East Division. However, left-winger Rick Martin had the first of his two consecutive 52-goal seasons that year. Martin was a member of the famous French Connection Line with centre Gilbert Perrault and right-winger Rene Robert. He played for 11 seasons in the NHL with all but four games coming with the Sabres. Martin scored 384 goals and 701 points in 685 regular-season games and added 53 points in 63 playoff contests. His 52 goals the next season helped the Sabres tie Montreal and Philadelphia for the most points in the league at 113. They were the Adams Division and Prince of Wales champions and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final where they were beaten in six games by the Flyers. Martin’s number seven was retired by the Sabres and sadly he passed away at the age of 59 in 2011.
13 Ilya Kovalchuk 2005-06 and 2007-08
Russian left-winger Ilya Kovalchuk had plenty of skill, but had the misfortune of racking up two 50-goal campaigns and failing to reach the playoffs in each of them. Kovalchuk lit up the lamp 52 times in 78 games with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005-06 and repeated the feat in 79 contests with the same team in 2007-08. Atlanta had a decent season in 2005-06 with 90 points and 41 wins and finished in a tie with Toronto. However, they finished two points behind Tampa and three behind Montreal in the Eastern Conference. Kovalchuk had 98 points and finished eighth in league scoring. Two years later Atlanta finished 14th in the 15-team East with 76 points and missed the postseason by 18 points. Kovalchuk’s 87 points placed him 10th in league scoring. The former first-overall draft pick in 2001 is still playing pro hockey with the KHL in Russia and had 816 points in 816 games when he left the NHL.
12 Mickey Redmond 1972-73 and 1973-74
Right-winger Mickey Redmond was an underrated player in his day as he didn’t receive the same recognition other 50-goal scorers did. Redmond had the unfortunate luck of scoring 52 goals in 76 games with the Detroit Red Wings in 1972-73 and then banging in another 51 in 76 contests the very next season, but missing the postseason in both years. Detroit finished in fifth place in the eight-team East Division in 72-73, two points out of a playoff spot even though Redmond made the First All-Star Team. The Red Wings were even worse the next season and finished sixth in the eight-team East Division and 18 points out of the playoffs with Redmond being named to the Second All-Star Team. Redmond was the first Red Wing ever to score 50 goals in a season, but would play just 66 games over the next two seasons before retiring due to a back injury at the age of 28.
11 Gary Roberts 1991-92
The 1991-92 season was a memorable one for winger Gary Roberts of the Calgary Flames as he reached the 50-goal mark for the one and only time in his career. Roberts banged in 53 goals in 76 contests, but there wasn’t really much reason to celebrate since his Flames missed the playoffs. Calgary finished in fifth-place in the six-team Smythe Division with 74 points, seven back of the Winnipeg Jets. However, with the way the NHL playoffs were set up back then, the Minnesota North Stars made the postseason even though they finished four points behind the Flames. The Stars finished fourth in the five-team Norris Division and that was good enough to take the last playoff spot in the Campbell Conference. It was a career year for Roberts as he added 37 assists for 90 points in 1991-92. He was an underrated scorer who retired with 438 goals and 472 assists for 910 points in 1,224 games. Roberts also scored 93 points in 130 playoff matches.
10 Mark Recchi 1992-93
Philadelphia Flyers’ power forward Mark Recchi (#8 Pictured Above) finished the 1992-93 season with 53 goals and 73 assists for 123 points and placed 10th in the scoring race. However, his efforts didn’t help the Flyers reach the dance that season as they finished fifth in the six-team Patrick Division with 83 points and were a game under .500. They missed out on the postseason action by just four points as the New Jersey Devils took the playoff spot. It was Recchi’s best year scoring-wise in the NHL and his only 50-goal season, but 14 players scored at least 50 goals that year. He played 22 years in the league and won three Stanley Cups, each in a different decade. Recchi played with seven different teams in his career and retired with 577 goals and 956 assists to his name for 1,533 points in 1,652 regular-season games. He also scored 148 points in 189 playoff contests.
9 Rick Vaive 1981-82 and 1983-84
Right-winger Rick Vaive will remain in the history books as being the first Toronto Maple Leafs player to ever score 50 goals in a season. In fact, Vaive reached the 50-goal barrier three years in a row back in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the Leafs missed the playoffs in two of those seasons. Vaive, a former Leafs captain, scored 54 goals in 77 games in 1981-82 when the Leafs placed fifth in the six-team Norris Division, 16 points out of the playoffs. Vaive followed up with 51 goals in 78 games the next campaign, but the Leafs made the playoffs even though they won just 28 regular-season games. Vaive made it a hat trick of 50-goal seasons in 1983-1984 with 52 goals in 76 games. The Leafs were fifth and last in the Norris Division though and missed the playoffs by seven points. Vaive retired in 1992 with 441 goals and 788 points in 876 career games with Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver, and Buffalo.
8 Blaine Stoughton 1981-82
Blaine Stoughton scored 56 goals in 80 games with the Hartford Whalers and all was well as the team made the playoffs that 1979-80 season. However, the right-winger followed it up with a 56-goal season in 80 games in 1981-82 and the Whalers were on the outside looking in come season’s end. Hartford finished fifth and last in the Adams Division that year with just 21 wins, 40 losses and 60 points. There were just three teams worse than the Whalers that year and they finished it 22 points out of the playoffs. It would be hard to blame Stoughton though as he was an accomplished scorer in both the NHL and WHA. Stoughton played a combined 745 regular-season games in both leagues and netted 347 goals and 281 assists for 628 points. He also had 16 points in 19 playoff games. Stoughton’s 56 goals in 1879-80 led the league along with Danny Gare and Charlie Simmer.
7 Marcel Dionne 1982-83
By the time the 1982-83 season rolled around, scoring 50 goals a campaign was an old hat for Los Angeles Kings’ centre Marcel Dionne. This would be the sixth and final time he would score at least 50 goals in a season and he did it in style by setting off the goal light 56 times in 80 games. However, the Hall of Famers contributions in 82-83 weren’t enough to lift Los Angeles into a playoff position. They were one of the league’s worst teams that year as they finished in fifth and last place in the Smythe Division. The Kings won just 27 games and finished eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets and the last playoff spot. Dionne finished fifth in league scoring that season and registered a point on 107 of his team’s 308 goals. Dionne had a remarkable NHL career and retired with 731 goals and 1,771 points in 1,348 contests.
6 Bobby Hull 1968-69
The first time a 50-goal scorer failed to make the playoffs was back in the 1968-69 season when Bobby Hull found the back of the net 58 times in 74 games for the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the fourth out of five times Hull would score 50 goals in an NHL campaign and the only time he missed the postseason when doing so. At the time, Hull was just the third NHL’er to hit the half century mark after Rocket Richard and Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadiens. Hull would finish his NHL career with 610 goals and he added 303 more in the WHA, where he had four straight seasons of 50-plus goals. The Blackhawks wouldn’t miss the playoffs again until 1997-98 season after Hull’s 58-goal campaign, which was a new NHL record for goals at the time. Hull was a first-team All Star that year, but the Hawks still finished in sixth and last place in the East Division with 77 points, eight back of a playoff spot.
5 Pavel Bure 2000-01
The Florida Panthers managed just 22 wins and 66 points in the 2000-01 season even though Russian right-winger and future Hall of Famer Pavel Bure scored 59 goals in 82 games. This was the Russian Rocket’s fifth and final 50-goal season in the NHL, but the Panthers wasted it by finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference and 22 points out of a playoff spot. Bure, the former Rookie of the Year, won the Rocket Richard trophy for the Panthers that season by leading the league in goals. He was also named to the Second All-Star Team. Bure finished seventh in league scoring that year as he added 33 assists and finished the campaign with 92 points. He was drafted 113th overall by Vancouver in 1989 and ended his career at the end of the 2002-03 season with the New York Rangers with 437 goals and 779 points to his name in 702 games. Bure also scored 35 goals and 70 points in 64 playoff encounters.
4 Dennis Maruk 1980-81 and 1981-82
Centre Dennis Maruk was just 5-feet-8-inches tall, but he scored 356 goals and 522 assists for 878 points in 888 career regular-season games with the California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, Washington Capitals, and the Minnesota North Stars. He also added 36 points in 34 playoff outings. Maruk is another one of those players who actually posted a pair of 50-goal seasons and missed the playoffs in each of them with the Capitals. Maruk banged in 50 goals in 80 games in 1980-81 and followed it up the next season with a career-high 60 goals in 80 games in 81-82. The Capitals finished fifth and last place in the Patrick Division in 80-81 though, just four points out of the playoffs, and the next season were 10 points put of the postseason and cellar dwellers again. Maruk’s 76 assists and 136 points in the 81-82 campaign are still Capitals single-season records and he was the first Cap to reach 100 points in a year.
3 Steven Stamkos 2009-10 and 2011-12
It may be hard to believe, but Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has racked up a total of two 50-goal seasons and has missed the playoffs in both of them. He had 51 goals in 81 contests in 2009-10, but Tampa finished the season in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and eight out of the postseason. His 51 goals tied Stamkos with Sidney Crosby for the league lead and they shared the Rocket Richard Trophy. Stamkos then won the trophy outright in 2011-12 when he netted 60 goals in 82 games. Along with Dennis Maruk of Washington in 1981-82, it was the third-most goals scored by an NHL player in a season while missing the playoffs. Stamkos was fifth in league scoring in 2009-10 with 95 points and his 97 points in 2011-12 placed him second in the scoring race. He was also named to the Second All-Star Team that year.
2 Steve Yzerman 1989-90
Hall of Fame centre Steve Yzerman, who spent his entire career from 1983 to 2006 with the Detroit Red Wings, scored 62 goals in the 1989-90 season, but had to watch the playoffs on TV. It was the second-highest goal total by a non-playoff player in NHL history. Yzerman added 65 assists that year for 127 points and finished third in league scoring. His Red Wings didn’t fare too well though as they came in ninth place in the 10-team Campbell Conference and missed the playoffs by five points. It was Yzerman’s third 50-goal season and he would go on to record two more. The former Red Wings captain finished his career with 692 goals and 1,063 assists for 1,755 points in 1,514 games and added 185 points in 196 playoff outings. He won numerous individual awards in his career and also led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup titles.
1 Mario Lemieux 1986-87 and 1987-88
The great Mario Lemieux (Pictured Above Holding the Stanley Cup)is another multi-time 50-goal scorer who managed to miss the playoffs on two occasions while achieving the feat. The Hall of Fame centre with the Pittsburgh Penguins missed the postseason in back-to-back campaigns in 1986-87 and 87-88, which were his first two 50-goal seasons. He would reach the 50-goal barrier a total of six times during his career. The Penguins missed the playoffs in 86-87 after Lemieux scored 54 goals and 107 points to finish third in scoring in just 63 games. He was also a Second Team All-Star, but Pittsburgh finished fifth in the Patrick Division and four points out of the playoffs. Remarkably, the very next season Lemieux scored a league-high 70 goals and added 98 assists to lead the league in scoring with 168 points. The Penguins missed the playoffs again though even though Lemieux was a First-Team All Star and posted his second-best season totals ever. Pittsburgh finished last in the Patrick Division that season with 81 points, just one back of a playoff position. It was the greatest ever season in history by an NHL player who missed the playoffs.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!