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Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A Look at 50-Goal Scorers. Will Draisaitl Join Them?

It is very fitting that the trophy for the NHL’s leading goal scorer is named after Maurice Richard. He was the first player to score 50 goals. He potted 50 goals in 1945 when the season only had 50 games. It was a remarkable achievement. Prior to him reaching 50 only three players prior had even scored 40 goals. Conney Weiland (43), Dit Clapper (41) and Howie Morenz (40) reached 40 goals in 1930 when they played 44 games.

Joe Malone was a sniper in the 1920s, scoring 39 goals in 24 games in 1920, while Newsy Lalonde potted 37 in 23 games the same year, but when Richard reached 50 goals in 1945 it became the new goal scoring standard.

Richard was the only 50-goal man for 16 seasons until Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion scored 50 in 1961. Bobby Hull scored 50 in 1962, and he became the first player to surpass 50 when he scored 54 in 1966.

Phil Esposito scored a ridiculous 76 goals in 1971, beating Hull’s previous high of 58 from 1969. Esposito’s record stood until a young lad named Wayne Gretzky potted an amazing 92 goals in 1982. Gretzky’s record still stands, and likely will never be broken.

Becoming a 50-goal scorer is an amazing feat. Only 91 players are in the 50-goal club and they’ve done it a total of 195 times.

Just 45 players managed to do it twice in their careers and only a special group of 20 managed it three times or more.

Luc Robitaille, Rick Vaive, Teemu Selanne, John Leclair, Cam Neely and Jaromir Jagr reached it three times.
Michel Goulet, Jari Kurri and Tim Kerr four times.
Bobby Hull, Phil Esposito, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Pavel Bure did it five times.
Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux did it six times.
Alex Ovechkin has eight 50-goals seasons.
Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy each reached 50 goals an amazing nine times.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored twice last night and has 49 goals. He has one final chance, tomorrow night in Calgary, to join a very exclusive club. Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares needs three goals tomorrow to reach 50. It has happened before.

QUEST FOR 50…

Thirty seven times a player has finished the season with exactly 50 goals. Of those, 21 players reached the 50-goal mark in their final game of the season.

Maurice Richard had 1-1-2 in 1945 @ BOS
Bobby Hull potted 1-0-1 in 1962 @ NYR
Rick MacLeish had 1-0-1 in 1973 @ PITT
Jeremy Roenick had 1-1-2 in 1983 v. TOR
Steve Yzerman scored 1-1-2 in 1983. It was his 64th game on March 1st. He didn’t play the rest of the season.
Hakan Loob potted 1-0-1 in 1988 vs the Minnesota North Stars.
John Leclair had 1-0-1 in 1997 v. NJ
Milan Hejduk had 1-2-3 in 2003 v. STL
Dany Heatley had 1-1-2 in 2006 @ NYR
The next year Heatley  had 1-2-3 in 2007 @ BOS
Jarome Iginla potted 1-1-2 in 2008 @ VAN
Evgeni Malkin scored 1-1-2 in 2012 v. PHI

A few others had an even bigger flair for the dramatics to reach the 50-goal mark.

Vic Hadfield scored 2-0-2 in 1972 v. MTL
Mark Messier potted 2-1-3 in 1982 v. LA
Mike Gartner had 2-2-4 in 1985 v. PITT
Stephane Richer scored 2-0-2 in 1988 @ BUFF. Richer scored a hat trick in his previous game. Five goals in his final two games to reach 50.

And three players scored a hat-trick to reach 50 on the nose.

Danny Gare potted 3-0-3 in 1976 v. TOR
Denis Maruk had 3-0-3 in 1981 v. DET
Alex Ovechkin scored 3-0-3 in 2016 @ STL

A few others needed the final game to join the club. On 26 occasions a player finished the season with 51 goals, and four of those players did it in their final game of the season.

Mike Bossy had 2-0-2 in 1984 @ WSH
Brendan Shanahan had 2-0-2 in 1993 v. TB
Sidney Crosby had 2-3-5 in 2010 @ NYI.

And once again Stephane Richer had the ultimate entrance into the 50-goal club. He scored 3-0-3 in his final game to reach 51 goals, after scoring twice in the previous game. Richer had two 50-goal campaigns in his career and both times he scored five goals over the final two games to make it. Unreal.

Of the other 22 who finished with 51 goals, 13 of them did score in their final game, but they were already at 50. So 17 of the 26 scored in their final game of the season.

The 49-GOAL CLUB

Nov 24, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) skates up ice with the puck while being defended by Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) during the third period at KeyBank Center. Buffalo beats Edmonton 3 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

It is interesting to note the 26 times a player has finished with 51 goals and 37 times they finished with 50. Only 13 times has a player finished with 49 goals, and of that group only four of them never scored 50 in another season.

Rick Middleton, Jimmy Carson, Richard Martin, Steve Shutt, Esposito, MacLeish, Goulet, Gartner and Ovechkin last season finished with 49, but reached 50 in another year.

Of these nine, Ovechkin, Esposito and Goulet scored twice in their final game to reach 49, while Gartner, Middleton scored once.

The heartbreak club of sitting at 49, but never reaching 50, includes Gordie Howe, Frank Mahovlich, Kent Nilsson and Rob Brown.

Nilsson scored twice in his final game to get close, while Mahovlich potted one. Brown and Howe were unable to score in their final game.

Look at it this way: In the history of the NHL, 96 players, including Draisaitl, have scored 49 goals, and 91 of them went on to score 50. Draisaitl wants to be number 92.

WILL DRAISAITL DO IT?

It is interesting to see how many players who were on the cusp of 50 goals scored in their final game to reach it.

It is a massive accomplishment to score 50 goals in a season, and last night Draisaitl had some great chances in the third period. After Aaron Dell made a pad save on one shot, Draisaitl looked skyward. He thought he should have scored on that shot.

The season has been a disappointment for the Oilers, but the individual play of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl has been anything but disappointing. They’ve been great, and Draisaitl would love nothing more than to score his 50th tomorrow.

“Absolutely. It is something special,” said Draisaitl. “I’m not sure I’ll ever get that chance again so I’m going to try and make the most of it. I really appreciate the guys trying to set me up.”

It will be a rallying point for the entire team.

“It will be for sure,” said Oscar Klefbom. “I don’t know the last time an Oilers scored 50 so it is going to be exciting. He’s had a great year. The way he and Connor have produced this year is really impressive. It’s probably more impressive for me as a defenceman, because I know how many good defencemen try to shut them down every night. It’s amazing.”

PARTING SHOTS…

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t had a 50-goal scorer since Gretzky had 62 and Kurri scored 54 in 1987. Craig Simpson had a total of 56 goals in 1988, but only 43 of them came as a member of the Oilers.

Scoring 50 goals in today’s game is very rare. Only Ovechkin, four times, has done it since 2012. Many organization haven’t seen a 50-goal man in decades.

Five franchises have never had a 50-goal scorer. New Jersey, Columbus, Minnesota, Nashville and Las Vegas. Vegas is only in their second season, while Columbus and Minnesota entered the NHL in 2000/2001 and Nashville arrived two years earlier. The real drought is the Devils organization. They started in Kansas City in 1974, then relocated to Colorado in 1976 and then to New Jersey in 1982. In 44 years this franchise has never produced a 50-goal scorer. Brian Gionta was the closest when he scored 48 in 2006, followed by Zack Parise’s 45 goals in 2009 and Alex Mogilny’s 43 and Patrik Elias’ 40 both in 2001.

Here’s the last 50-goal man for each franchise.

Hartford/Carolina: Blaine Stoughton in 1982
Edmonton: Gretzky and Kurri in 1987
Montreal: Richer in 1990
Buffalo: Pat Lafontaine and Mogilny in 1993
Chicago: Roenick in 1993
Los Angeles: Robitaille in 1993
New York Islanders: Pierre Turgeon in 1993
Boston: Cam Neely in 1994
Detroit: Ray Sheppard and Sergei Fedorov in 1994
Dallas: Mike Modano in 1994
St.Louis: Shanahan and Brett Hull in 1994
Toronto: Dave Andreychuk in 1994
Arizona: Keith Tkachuk in 1997
Philadelphia: Leclair in 1998
Vancouver: Bure in 1998
Florida: Bure in 2001
Colorado: Hejduk in 2003
New York Rangers: Jaromir Jagr in 2006
San Jose: Jonathon Cheechoo in 2006
Ottawa: Heatley in 2007
Atlanta/Winnipeg: Ilya Kovalchuk in 2008
Calgary: Iginla in 2008
Anaheim: Corey Perry in 2011
Pittsburgh: Malkin in 2012
Tampa Bay: Steven Stamkos in 2012
Washington: Ovechkin in 2019

Teams 50-Goal seasons

The Penguins have had nine players score 50 goals for a total 16 times, the most in NHL history.
Edmonton is second with 15 times (four players)
Washington: 14 times (five players)
Los Angeles: 14 times (six players)
NY Islanders: 12 times (four players)
Philadelphia: 12 times (six players)
Boston: 11 times (five players)
Detroit: 11 times (six players)
Montreal: 11 times (five players)
CGY/ATL: 10 times (eight players)
Chicago: 8 times (three players)
COL/QUE: 8 times (four players)
St.Louis: 8 times (three players)
Buffalo: 6 times (four players)
Toronto: 5 times (three players)
Anaheim: 4 times (three players)
Dallas/North Stars: 4 times (three players)
ARI/WPG: 4 times (three players)
Vancouver: 4 times (two players)
NY Rangers: 3 times (three players)
Tampa Bay: 3 times (two players)
Florida: Twice (one player)
CAR/HFD: Twice (one player)
WPG/ATL: Twice (one player)
Ottawa: Twice (one player)
San Jose: Once
NJ/COL/KC, Nashville, Columbus, Minnesota and Vegas: None

Draisaitl could end a lengthy drought for the Oilers organization and also tie the Penguins for the most 50-goal seasons.

Enjoy the game, and don’t be the ultimate fun sponge who says, “Draisaitl won’t do this again, or his SH% will regress to the mean.”

Fifty goal seasons are rare, and over half of the 91 players who managed do to it once never did it again.

They are so rare in fact, that for the first time ever here at the Nation….

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl scores his 50th.

Recently by Jason Gregor:



  • Abagofpucks

    Not only do i want Leon to get to 50 but i want him to at least tie vegetable and win the Rocket Richard. Then Conner picks up 3 assists and a goal to get him to 120 points, and lil nudgy pots a couple to get to 30. If somehow a few Flames players get banged up in the process and have to leave the game early that will be ok with me too. AHH HAHAHA Calgary blows goats.

  • McHitch

    McDavid Drai Nuge

    Nurse Klefbom Bouchard Klefbom

    We also have Yamo, JP, Benson, Jones and some other decent prospects coming up.

    This team will be good in a couple years, once we clear out some useless salary and bring up some of the farm.

    Another top 10 pick coming up. Be interesting to see what the new GM does with it.

  • Abagofpucks

    I have question for you gregor how many players score 50 or better on a bad hockey team like the oilers are this year. My guess is not very many, which in my mind makes it even more special if he can pull it off.

  • Billsbills

    I hope Draisaitl does it. It is a huge exclamation mark on how bad so much of the team is. Two 100 point players and a 50 goal scorer can’t make the playoffs. Pathetic.

  • _Bubba

    Good article Jason- I’ve been wondering about that “49” goal clucb for a few days now, interesting stats… If we go by the odds he will either score Saturday, or go 49 and follow up with 50 next year. Neat!

  • Loil

    Either way, he already holds the record for most goals scored in a season by a German born player. I really hope to see him get that number 5 0 though! I’d also love to see McDavid grab another 4 points to hit 120 and 3 points for Nugey.
    We can dream, can’t we?

  • Randaman

    Reider will not score in an Oiler uniform. Embarrassing to say the least. Drai and Connor will have to be hungry. I expect a full Flames line up to play to be ready for game 1.

  • Old school

    Fun article Jason but l am reminded of the old saying “ what counts can’t always be counted and what can be counted doesn’t always count” .. when current day sport writers compare players from other eras much is often omitted or overlooked .. something called context . Let’s take Howe’s 49 goal year as an example. That season the NHL played 70 games .. adjusting his scoring to a 82 game schedule would have him scoring 57 goals that year . In fact adjusting the game data based on current 82 game seasons show Howe would have scored 50 goals or more 4x in the current 82 game format. I have seen era adjusted articles showing if Howe had played in the high scoring Gretzky era that he would have scored more than 60 goals several times , including 70 , 80 and a 90 goal season . Extrapolation of course but based on real data. Lastly An interesting side note is that Howe played Rocket and his Canadians on the last game of the 52-53 season attempting to get his 50th goal and the Canadians played with a single purpose dedicated to stopping Howe from scoring and equaling Richards record . They literally swarmed him the entire game as winning the game was subordinate to stopping Howe . Lastly l love stories of the Rocket and his 50 goals but let’s face it that achievement should come with an aesterick- if not context – it was the last year of the war and many of the best players were in service and the lineups were thinly stocked. 50 goals has always been a gold standard in the NHL and is a tremendous accomplishment but many true hall of famers didn’t score 50 and many “ average “ players did in the goal era. But lm old school

    • Old school

      No Abagof l doubt that .. you’re insinuating that the old 6 team NHL was inferior which it wasn’t . It was another era . Howe would be a star in any era . This wasn’t meant to denigrate Gretzky but the era he happened to play in was the highest scoring era of all time . Any of the truly great players would have inflated numbers if they played on that era . It’s just data

  • Ted

    Let us look at Lucic again the $1M/goal guy! With Draisaitl’s contract he’s making about $170,000 /goal. If they were paid per goal at that rate Lucic would have made $1.2M a much more reasonable rate for a fourth liner!

  • madjam

    Draisaitl should get his 50th tomorrow as Flames unlikely to be to concerned about finishing against the Oilers . Give Leon the goal early , and Oilers should roll over for rest of what might be a very boring game .

  • madjam

    Best players can only be judged their eras they played in(it’s all relative to times) , and how they played above their opposition at those times . I have had the priviledge of watching NHL from The Richards , Howes , Orr etc. on up . Gretzky was probably the biggest spread thru his era , and thus remains Mr.Hockey for most of us . Even he will admit todays dealth of hockey players have quite a step above when he played with personnel trainers and coaching they have .

  • Alfonso

    These hapless Oilers are winless in their last 4 road games as well as 8-18 in their last 26 meetings in Calgary and the home team is 5-1 in the last 6 games in this series … it’s been complete & thorough ownage by the Flames …

    • Leichs

      Not even close buddy. We swept the flames the first two years connor was drafted. All these skewed numbers go back years before connor and leon were drafted to the Iginla and Kipper days. Go back to mcd draft year and oilers have a winning record against the Flames since then.

  • cujo_83

    Forgot the Line combos
    Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian
    Draisaitl-Nuge-Chaisson
    Draisaitl-Gagner-Lucic
    Draisaitl-Draisaitl-Draisaitl

    Klef-Draisaitl
    Draisaitl-Nurse
    Benning-Draisaitl

    And starting in Goal
    Draisaitl