NHL Elite: Consistent Point-Per-Game Players

Russian superstars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin joined a rare group of players who have averaged a point-per-game played (P/GP) or better for at least 10 seasons. They join Sidney Crosby as the only active players to do so – Crosby has 11.

I chose 40 games played as the minimum to qualify because it is low enough to preserve the difficulty of achieving the milestone while still allowing for minor injuries during the lockout-shortened seasons of 1994-95 and 2012-13 when only 48 games were played.

Russians Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin both averaged a point-per-game this season for the 10th time in their careers. (Flickr/clydeorama)

To put into perspective how difficult it is to maintain a P/GP average for at least 40 games, there were only 24 players to do so this season. That is a jump from the eight players who did so in each of the past three seasons and the 12 who maintained that average in 2013-14. Furthermore, in the past five seasons, there have only been 14 players who reached that average in multiple seasons.

The Retired Players

With only four active players with at least 10 seasons of a P/GP average, let’s look at those who have the most such seasons in league history.

Wayne Gretzky – 19 Seasons

With his 2,857 points and 1.92 P/GP the best in league history, it’s no surprise that “The Great One” has the most seasons with 19, spanning from his first NHL season in 1979-80 to his next-t0-last season in 1997-98. During that stretch, he was never below that mark and led the league in P/GP 11 times including a period of nine straight seasons between 1980 and 1988.

If you factor in his one World Hockey Association (WHA) season when he averaged 1.38 P/GP, Gretzky had 20 straight seasons. During the 19 seasons of his streak, he averaged 1.97 P/GP and reached a high of 2.77 in 1983-84 and had a low of 1.00 in 1994-95. Furthermore, between 1981 and 1989 he never averaged less than 2.05 P/GP.

Wayne Gretzky, Gretzky records, point-per-game

As the most accomplished player in league history, it should be no surprise that Wayne Gretzky has the most seasons as a point-per-game player. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

What’s remarkable is that he led his team in points-per-game every season including his last at 38 years old. Even more remarkable is that between 1980 and 1998, Gretzky’s 1.97 P/GP average was .69 higher than any other player with at least 750 games played. Even if you take away his 894 goals, his remaining 1.32 P/GP would still be the fourth-highest in history.

Gordie Howe – 17 Seasons

Gordie Howe, Point-Per-Game, Detroit Red Wings

Gordie Howe managed 26 NHL seasons in his career and was a point-per-game player in 19 of them.

Gordie Howe’s 17 seasons as a point-per-game player stretched from 1951 to 1969 missing the mark twice, in 1954-55 and 1966-67. The 19 seasons between his first point-per-game season and his last spanned from age 22 until he was 40.

Between 1951 and 1969, Howe averaged 1.15 P/GP which was .05 higher than anyone else with at least 750 games during the time period. He had a high of 1.36 P/GP in 1952-53 and 1968-69 and a low of .94 in 1966-67. He led the league in points-per-game seven times, including four straight seasons from 1951 and 1954. He also led the Detroit Red Wings in all but two of the 19 seasons.

Additionally, he was a point-per-game player in five of his six WHA seasons. Mr. Hockey’s career 1.05 P/GP rank 37th all-time, a testament to his longevity in the league.

Marcel Dionne – 15 Seasons

Between 1973 and 1987, Marcel Dionne’s 1.38 P/GP average was second in the league only to Mike Bossy’s 1.50. In those 15 seasons, Dionne was a P/GP player every year, the second-longest streak to Gretzky’s 19 consecutive seasons. Dionne’s streak started in his sophomore season and lasted until his 16th when he was 35 years old. He also only missed the mark in his rookie season by .01 P/GP and by .03 in his 17th season.

Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings

One of the best players of the 70s and 80s, Marcel Dionne had 15 consecutive seasons as a point-per-game player. (Photo by Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images)

Dionne never led the league in P/GP but did pace his team 14 times including eight consecutive seasons between 1974 and 1981. The main reason for his high scoring rate was from leading the league with 1,606 points between 1973 and 1987, 404 more than the next highest scorer. His 1.31 P/GP remains fifth all-time. Dionne may have never won a Stanley Cup but his place among the league’s elite is cemented.

Ron Francis – 15 Seasons

Ron Francis, Hartford Whalers, Point-Per-Game

Ron Francis was the face of the Hartford Whalers for a generation and for good reason. His .99 P/GP is the franchise’s best among those who played at least 500 games in their sweater.

Ron Francis only missed the point-per-game mark twice between 1982 and 1998. His streak started in his rookie season and ended when he was 34. After his streak ended, he had two more seasons in which he knocked on the point-per-game door. He had a .94 P/GP average in 1999-2000 and .96 in 2001-02 when he was 38.

During the span of 17 seasons between his first and last point-per-game season, Francis averaged 1.16 P/GP with a high of 1.55 in 1995-96 and a low of .77 in 1991-92. Largely the result of playing in an era with Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier, and Mario Lemieux, Francis never had the league’s highest scoring rate. However, he did lead the Hartford Whalers each season from 1982 to 1991 when he was traded midseason to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mark Messier – 15 Seasons

Between 1982 and 1997, Mark Messier averaged at least a P/GP in all but one season, missing the mark by .02 P/GP in 1984-85. During those 16 seasons, he averaged 1.29 P/GP with a high of 1.63 in 1989-90. During that span, Messier’s rate was third-highest in the league behind Gretzky and Yzerman.

Messier never led the league in points-per-game and because he was teammates with Gretzky, he didn’t lead his team until the 1989-90 season. Including that season, Messier led his team in P/GP seven times, the last occurring in 1996-97 when he and Gretzky tied for the New York Rangers scoring lead.

Joe Sakic – 15 Seasons

In his 20 year career, current Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic never finished a season averaging less than .80 P/GP. His 19 seasons with at least 40 games played while maintaining that average are tied for the fourth-most behind Howe, Gretzky, and Messier.

Joe Sakic, Colroado Avalanche, Quebec Nordiques, Point-Per-Game

Lifelong Quebec Nordique/Colorado Avalanche forward, Joe Sakic averaged at least a point-per-game in 15 of his 20 seasons.

Arguably the best player in Avalanche history, Sakic averaged at least a point-per-game in 15 of his 20 seasons, beginning with his sophomore season and ending with his age-37 season. Between 1990 and 2007, he missed that mark just twice with a .98 P/GP rate in 1997-98 and .96 in 2001-02. Between those years, he averaged 1.22, second-highest behind Jaromir Jagr, and had a high of 1.46 P/GP in 1995-96.

Sakic never led the league in scoring rate but led the Quebec Nordiques/Avalanche 11 times. Had he not played with Peter Stastny and Peter Forsberg, he would have led his team more often. Stastny led the team in 1988-89 while Forsberg led them in 1996-97, 1997-98, 2002-03, Sakic retired with a 1.19 career P/GP average, 12th all-time, and between 1990 and 2007, his 1.20 P/GP average was third-highest in the league among those with 750 games played.

Ray Bourque – 14 Seasons

Ray Bourque is the only defenseman in history to have 14 or more seasons of at least 40 games while maintaining a point-per-game average. His .98 P/GP for his career may only tie for 65th all-time but he is third among defensemen with at least 750 games played behind only Paul Coffey and Denis Potvin.

Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins, Points-Per-Game

Long-time Boston Bruins captain Ray Bourque is third all-time in points-per-game among NHL defensemen. His five Norris Trophies are second-most in history and a testament to his prolific play on the blue line.

Between 1982 and 1996, Bourque averaged at least a P/GP in 14 of the 15 seasons, equal to a 1.10 average during those 15 seasons. He had a high of 1.26 P/GP in 1993-94 and a low of .93 during the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95.

As a blueliner, he never led the league in points-per-game but finished among the top-five for defensemen in all 14 seasons. He led his position in the stat twice, in 1986-87 and 1993-94, unsurprising considering he finished his career with more points than any other defenseman. He also managed to lead the Boston Bruins in scoring rate five times.

Jaromir Jagr – 13 Seasons

Between the 1992-93 and 2006-07 seasons, Jaromir Jagr was a P/GP player in 13 seasons, including 11 consecutive seasons between 1993 and 2003. During those 14 seasons, Jagr’s 1.35 P/GP was .15 higher than Sakic in second place. This includes a high of 1.82 in 1995-96 and a low of .96 in 2003-04. He also only missed the mark by .01 P/GP in 1991-92.

Jaromir Jagr, Calgary Flames, Points-Per-Game

Shown here as a Calgary Flame, legendary player Jaromir Jagr maintained a point-per-game average in 13 of 14 seasons between 1993 and 2007. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Jagr led the league in scoring three straight seasons from the 1997-98 season to 1999-00, alongside three of his Art Ross Trophy seasons. Jagr also led his team in scoring rate a total of 11 times, including six seasons in a row from 1998 to 2003.

His 1.11 career P/GP is 25th all-time and fourth among active players. However, had he retired after the 2013-14 season when he had 67 points in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils, his career average would be 1.19 P/GP and he would be tied for 13th all-time.

The Actives

Sidney Crosby – 11 Seasons

Since he entered the league in 2005, Sidney Crosby’s 1.29 P/GP are .10 higher than any other player during that time period. His scoring rate is the sixth-highest all-time and the best among active players. He has averaged at least a point-per-game in all 13 of his seasons but he didn’t reach the 40 game threshold in 2011-12 or 2012-13, giving him 11 qualified seasons.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, Points-Per-Game

Pittsburgh Penguin captain Sidney Crosby is sixth all-time in points-per-game and has the highest scoring rate among active players. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In those 11 seasons, Crosby averaged 1.26 P/GP with a high of 1.52 in 2006-07 and a low of 1.06 in 2015-16. He has led the league in scoring rate five times if you include the two seasons in which he played less than 40 games. And two of those times he was also awarded the Art Ross Trophy. He has also led the Penguins in points-per-game eight times with a minimum of 40 games played.

Evgeni Malkin – 10 Seasons

Fellow Penguin Evgeni Malkin is second in scoring rate since 2005 with a 1.19 P/GP average. He has achieved at least a point-per-game average in all but one of his 12 NHL seasons. In 2010-11, he averaged .86 P/GP in 43 games while in 2012-13, he only played in 31 games, giving him 10 qualified seasons.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins, Points-Per-Game

Evgeni Malkin traditionally lives in Sidney Crosby’s shadow but has been prolific in his own right, averaging 1.19 P/GP. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

From the 2006-07 season through 2017-18, Malkin averaged 1.17 P/GP in his qualifying seasons with a career-high of 1.45 in 2011-12, the season he led the league in the category. He also received one of his two Art Ross Trophies that season. Malkin also led the Penguins in scoring average in 2008-09 and 2017-18. Malkin’s career 1.19 P/GP rate is 13th all-time and second among active players.

Alex Ovechkin – 10 Seasons

Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin is the fourth and final active player with at least 10 seasons averaging a point-per-game or better. Since entering the league in 2005, Ovechkin has appeared in at least 40 games every season and has been a point-per-game player in 10 of them. He missed that mark in 2011-12, 2015-16, and 2016-17. He led the league in scoring rate in three consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2010 and won an Art Ross Trophy in 2007-08.

Washington Capitals, Alex Ovechkin, Points-Per-Game

Alex Ovechkin was the latest player to have 10 seasons averaging at least a point-per-game. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

For his career, Ovechkin has averaged 1.12 P/GP, tied for 19th all-time and third among active players. His high of 1.51 P/GP occurred in 2009-10 and his low of .83 P/GP was in 2011-12. In addition to leading the league in scoring rate, Ovechkin has led the Washington Capitals in all but two of his seasons.

Other Active Players Who Can Reach 10 Seasons

Although no active players, apart from Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin have more than eight seasons as point-per-game players, there are several with the possibility of reaching 10 seasons in the future.

Ryan Getzlaf has seven such seasons, most recently in 2017-18. He also has seasons of .99 and .91 P/GP. Patrick Kane also has seven seasons and 2017-18 ended a streak of five seasons as a point-per-game player. He missed it this season by .07 P/GP. Steven Stamkos has been a point-per-game player in five seasons including the past two. He also reached that average in 2013-14 but only played in 37 games.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, Points-Per-Game

With seven seasons as a point-per-game player in his first 11 seasons, Patrick Kane could be the next player to reach 10 seasons. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Of course, there are also players like Connor McDavid and Mark Scheifele who have averaged better than a point-per-game each of the past two seasons and are young enough to reach 10 seasons in the future.

*All stats came from Hockey-Reference

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