In the world of ice hockey, where the name of the game is putting the puck in the back of the net, there’s a special place for those remarkable players who have made scoring goals an art form. The ability to score goals is undeniably important in ensuring the NHL remains thrilling and it is a defining quality that separates the truly great players from the rest. With that in mind, these are the top NHL all-time leading goal leaders.
10. Steve Yzerman – 692 Goals in 1,514 games
Steve Yzerman is a true icon in the hockey world, spending his entire 22-year career with the Detroit Red Wings from 1983 to 2006 during which he scored 692 goals. Yzerman was not just a prolific scorer; he had remarkable offensive talent and the stats to prove it. His unselfishness set him apart, always putting the team’s success above personal achievements.
Serving as the team’s captain for a long time, Yzerman led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup victories in 1997, 1998, and 2002. He left his mark on the franchise by holding almost every major Red Wings scoring record. Throughout his illustrious career, Yzerman had four seasons with 20+ goals, five with 30+ goals, one with 40+ goals, three with 50+ goals, and two astonishing seasons with 60+ goals.
9. Mark Messier – 694 Goals in 1,756 games
Mark Messier, nicknamed “The Moose” for his strength and aggression, stands as one of the most productive players in NHL history, with 694 goals under his belt. Over his impressive 25-season career, he left a lasting mark on the game. Messier is best known for his time with the Edmonton Oilers, where he won five Stanley Cups alongside the legendary Wayne Gretzky. He continued to shine with the New York Rangers, leading them to another Stanley Cup victory in 1994.
Although Messier’s 694 goals are an incredible achievement, he never won an NHL scoring title. His best finish was as a runner-up in the 1989-90 season. However, Messier will always be remembered for his fierce leadership, unwavering determination, and undeniable passion for the game. His unique distinction is that he’s the only player to captain two different teams to Stanley Cup championships, a testament to his leadership and impact on the ice.
8. Mike Gartner – 708 Goals in 1,432 games
Mike Gartner, with 708 career goals, holds the eighth spot in the all-time NHL goalscorers list. Gartner’s goal-scoring ability was unquestionable. In fact, he was the first player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in 15 consecutive seasons, a record that’s been equaled but never beaten. Over his 19 seasons in the league, Gartner managed to score at least 30 goals in 17 of those 19 seasons, showing an unmatched level of consistency.
Despite his impressive and lengthy career, Gartner never got to lift the Stanley Cup or play in the Cup Finals, and he didn’t win any individual NHL awards. However, his personal statistics place him among the elite forwards in NHL history.
7. Phil Esposito – 717 Goals in 1,282 games
Phil Esposito was a true offensive powerhouse in the NHL, and he lit up the scoreboard with 717 goals in his career. He set the pace for scoring, leading the NHL in goals six times, and was the first player to score 50 goals in a season five times in a row and even had a remarkable season in 1970-71 when he scored a then-record 76 goals.
Esposito began his career with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he played alongside fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Hull. However, he truly made a name for himself with the Boston Bruins, where he hoisted two Stanley Cups in the 1970s. After those glory days in Boston, Esposito played for the New York Rangers before calling it a career.
6. Marcel Dionne – 731 Goals in 1,348 games
Marcel Dionne holds the sixth spot on the all-time NHL goalscorers list with 731 goals. He began his career as a talented player on a struggling Red Wings team but then got traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where he became the star player of the Kings’ “Triple Crown Line.” The Kings were known for their exciting style of play in the regular season, but they didn’t have much luck in the playoffs. Eventually, Dionne found himself traded to the Rangers, where he finished his hockey journey.
When he retired in 1989, Dionne was second in assists, goals, and total points, but he had one unfortunate distinction – he’s the highest-scoring player who never won the Stanley Cup. Despite not having a Cup to his name, Dionne was an incredible scorer. He even clinched the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer in the 1979-80 season and scored 50 goals or more in a season six times during his 18-year career in the league.
5. Brett Hull – 741 Goals in 1,269 games
Brett Hull was a true scoring sensation, and he’s ranked fifth in NHL history with a total of 741 goals. People knew him as one of the best snipers in the game, a guy who could shoot the puck with incredible accuracy. Whether it was in the NHL or at any level, Hull was a scoring machine and once had an impressive streak of five consecutive NHL seasons where he scored at least 50 goals.
One of his standout achievements was the 86 goals he scored during the 1990-91 season, the third-highest single-season goal total in NHL history. Hull’s not just a regular-season star; he also made his mark in the playoffs. He won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and repeated the feat with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002.
When it came to goal-specific records, Hull was second in power-play goals with 265, and he’s third in game-winning goals with 110 and he’s tied with Wayne Gretzky with 24 career game-winning playoff goals, which is the most of all time.
4. Jaromir Jagr – 766 Goals in 1,733 games
Jaromir Jagr is a living legend in the world of hockey, and he’s been playing for a very long time – 35 seasons and counting in the NHL and overseas. He’s considered the greatest European-born player in the history of the game known for being an amazing goal-scorer with an impressive 766 goals scored in his 24-year NHL career.
Jagr was a scoring machine, taking home the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring champion five times, with four of those wins in a row. Jagr’s career also includes a unique record including the title for the oldest player to score a hat-trick. He last played in the NHL in 2018 with the Calgary Flames but continues to play for Kladno, his hometown team in the Czech Republic, and he’s still going strong at the age of 51.
3. Gordie Howe – 801 Goals in 1,767 games
Gordie Howe was famous for being a great goal scorer, incredibly strong, and playing for a really long time. He’s the only player who played in the NHL for five decades and when you play that long, you score a lot of goals.
He’s often called “Mr. Hockey,” and he was the top goal-scorer in the NHL four times and stayed in the top ten in scoring for 21 years in a row. He’s also the third player ever to score more than 800 regular season goals, with a total of 801.
Howe spent 26 seasons in the NHL and six in the WHA, but most of his time was with the Detroit Red Wings, where he won 4 Stanley Cups in the 1950s. He was an All-Star 21 times and had one final season with the Hartford Whalers before retiring at the age of 52. When he retired, his 801 goals, 1,049 assists, and 1,850 total points were all NHL records until Wayne Gretzky broke them.
2. Alexander Ovechkin – 822 Goals in 1,348 games
Alexander Ovechkin is a generational talent and currently holds the second spot in the all-time career goals list with 822 goals. However, it’s not just about the numbers; Ovechkin is a record-breaking machine. Ovechkin holds many goal-related records, such as the most power-play goals, most goals in away games, most overtime goals, and most goals with a single team in NHL history (the Washington Capitals). To underscore his prowess, he’s claimed the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy an impressive nine times, awarded annually to the NHL’s leading goal scorer.
In the 2022-23 season, Ovechkin surpassed Gordie Howe to become the second-highest scorer of all time. With two more years left on his contract after the 2023-24 season, he has a chance to break a record that was once considered unbreakable.
1. Wayne Gretzky – 894 Goals in 1,487 Games
Wayne Gretzky “The Great One,” set a bunch of NHL records. In fact, he has a whopping 61 records in total. These include 40 for regular season play, 15 for the playoffs, and 6 for the All-Star games. But the biggest and most important record is this: Wayne Gretzky is the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Gretzky was a master at scoring goals. He made winning look easy because, in hockey, goals win games. He was like a goal-scoring machine, always finding a way to get open for a shot.
During his 20-year career in the NHL, from 1979 to 1999, Gretzky played for the Edmonton Oilers, where he was a key part of the Edmonton Oilers’ success in the 1980s when they won four Stanley Cups. He then played for the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and the New York Rangers and scored a total of 894 goals in his career.
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