In the world of sports, we love our round-number milestones. In the NHL, the line of greatness has long been set at the 500-goal mark. That makes sense, given that only 45 players have ever reached it. With what could be a shortened season, it might be a couple of years before we get the 46th, because Sidney Crosby is still 38 goals away. Most of the members of the 500 Goal Club are in the Hall of Fame, and all of them have an argument to be there. This includes the two active players who have hit the mark. Here are the members of this elite group, in order of increasing career goal totals.
McDonald really left it late in his career. In his final season he scored only 11 goals, but that last one got him to 500. Then, that same season, he won his first Stanley Cup, with the Calgary Flames. After that he immediately retired, having hit two huge milestones.
It took Mullen a while to get his 500th goal. He had only a single-digit goal total in his last two seasons and finally got over the hump in his age-39 season. It was a bit of NHL history, as Mullen was the first American player to score 500 goals.
Bondra was the star of the Capitals for over a decade, as 472 of his career goals came in Washington. He also twice led the league in goals, including one 52-goal season. Bondra stuck around for a final season with the Blackhawks when he scored five goals, giving him 503 when he retired.
The first three names on this list played at least part of their careers during a time when scoring in the NHL was quite high. Although, to be fair Bondra also had to play in the era of the neutral-zone trap. Beliveau, beloved in Montreal, began his career in 1950, a time when guys scoring 50 goals in a season was largely unheard of. Beliveau never did that, but he did lead the league in goals twice en route to 507 career goals.
If you are a Buffalo fan of a certain age you may remember Perreault, but otherwise he’s a bit underrated for how good his career was. He spent his entire career with the Sabres, winning a Calder trophy for Rookie of the Year when he scored 38 of his 512 goals.
Roenick has never been afraid to mince words, which is why he is no longer employed by NBC Sports. Quibble with his personality, but you can’t argue with his career. JR had two 50-goal seasons with the Blackhawks and then became one of the first stars for the Coyotes after the move from Winnipeg. He retired with 513 goals.
Yes, that’s right. Turgeon scored 515 goals in his career. Surprised? We don’t blame you. While he was obviously a great player, few people ever viewed Turgeon as a true star. After all, he made only four All-Star Games in his 19 seasons.
Hawerchuk timed his career pretty much perfectly. He began in 1981, a time when goals were plentiful in the NHL. The Hall of Famer had at least 37 goals in each of his first eight seasons. Hawerchuk ended his career just as the trap was taking hold, and sure enough his scoring dropped. Interestingly, Hawerchuk retired when he was only 33, but he still had 518 goals.
Verbeek earned a great nickname in his career: Little Ball of Hate. He also earned himself 522 goals. There was a bit of a compiler in Verbeek, as he played in 20 seasons and never once had 50 goals. That may be what is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame.
We remember Trottier from his time with the Islanders when he won four Stanley Cups. He also won a Calder and a Hart in New York. He then ended his career with three seasons in Pittsburgh as a veteran depth player, but he won two more Cups that way. Trottier scored exactly 500 goals with the Islanders and then added 24 more in Pittsburgh.
Will Hossa make it into the Hall of Fame? He retired only a couple of years ago, so he hasn’t been eligible yet. He was never a superstar, but he was always racking up goals as a key piece on some excellent teams. Hossa made five All-Star Games and finished with 525 goals after an illness ended his career.
It’s impressive Mahovlich scored 533 goals in his NHL career, but he could have had even more. After spending 18 years in the league, he played four more in the WHA. Granted, the competition wasn’t as stiff, but he scored 89 goals in the league, playing until he was 40. Of course, those years were included in the decision when he made the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Tkachuk has the most career goals of any Hall-eligible player. This is in spite of the fact he had two 50-goal seasons and won an Art Ross Trophy. He finished with 538 goals but hasn’t made the Hall since retiring in 2010. Tkachuk now has two sons, Matthew and Brady, racking up goals in the NHL.
Mikita will forever be iconic for being honor in “Wayne’s World” with Stan Mikita’s Donuts. Interestingly, he led the NHL in assists three times and points four times, but he never won the Art Ross. He scored 541 goals, all with the Chicago Blackhawks. Hence, the “Wayne’s World” love.
Richard started his career in 1942, earlier than anybody else on this list. He was also the first player ever to score 50 goals in a season, doing it in only 50 games. The Rocket led the league in goals five times and managed to notch 544 career goals without even playing in 1,000 career games.
Goulet may be the most surprising 500-goal scorer. That may be because he played almost all of his career with the Quebec Nordiques, a team that hasn’t existed for decades. They aren’t exactly showing Goulet love in Colorado. The French Canadian is in the Hall, thanks largely to his 548 career goals in the NHL (plus 28 more in the WHA).
Francis is an all-time underrated player. He’s fifth in career points! And yet the only awards he ever won were the Selke and three Lady Byngs. While he was better as a playmaker than as a goal scorer, he still notched 549 goals before starting a career as a coach and front office executive.
Jean Beliveau handed the reins of the Canadiens to Lafleur, and he ran with them. The Flower had six consecutive 50-goal seasons, leading the league in goals once when he scored 60. He won two Harts and a Conn Smythe and naturally is in the Hall of Fame. It’s weird he spent three seasons at the end of his career not in Montreal, but it helped him tally 560 goals.
For a long time, Joe Mullen was the all-time leading American goal scorer. Then Modano came along (also Keith Tkachuk is American, but he’s below Modano in career goals). Modano had only one 50-goal season, and after an entire career with the Stars he spent one season with the Red Wings where he scored only four goals. However, it was still a great career, culminating in 561 goals, still the most of any American.
We’ve reached the first active player! That means by the time you read this the numbers might be different, depending on when and if the season resumes. Marleau, now with Pittsburgh, along with Joe Thornton, still is viewed as one of the two faces of the San Jose Sharks as a franchise. He has 518 career goals in teal and black, and overall he has 562 goals.
Now we get to a guy whom Marleau could still pass in career goals, and maybe even has if you are reading this in the future. Nieuwendyk won a Calder in Calgary and a Conn Smythe in Dallas, and he racked up some goals at a couple of other stops. He barely spent any time in New Jersey but weirdly ended up scoring his 500th goal there. The Canadian added more, finishing with 564 goals.
We have our first tie! Sundin, like Nieuwendyk, has 564 career goals. That makes him the highest-scoring Swedish player in NHL history. He’s also scored the most goals in Maple Leafs history.
What could have been? If not for injury, Bossy would be much higher on the charts. Of his 10 NHL seasons, he scored at least 60 goals five times. He never had fewer than 38 goals in a season, and that was in his injury-shortened final campaign of his career. Bossy was only 30. He could have finished with way more than 573 goals.
Recchi was a compiler but a steady presence. He had many 20-goal seasons over his 22-year career. Recchi played in 1,652 games overall and kept scoring double-digit goals per season well into his 40s. That helped him register 577 goals before finally hanging up his skates for good.
Yes, Kurri played the bulk of his career in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when goals were plentiful. Sure, he spent a lot of his career alongside Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky. The Finn finished with 601 goals. He’s the first 600-goal scorer on this list. Obviously, he was a great player, even if he had some help.
This may surprise you, especially if you remember Ciccarelli from the end of his career when he made his bones deflecting pucks in front of the net on the power play. Early on, though, he had a more well-rounded game. Ciccarelli had several 40-goal seasons, and all those deflections added up. He finished with 608 goals.
This is the first, but not the last, Hull on this list. Bobby was one of the first guys to harness the slap shot. This was also a time when stick curve rules were more lax, and Hull was known for having a wicked one on his stick. Hull had 610 goals in the NHL, but he actually spent a ton of time in the WHA. He spent seven seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, before they moved to the NHL, scoring a whopping 303 goals. That’s second most in WHA history.
Sakic is the face of the Colorado Avalanche, thanks to his play on the ice and his work in the front office. He spent his entire career with the franchise, seven in Quebec and then 13 in Colorado. He never won an Art Ross, or led the league in goals, but he still tallied 625 of them, 391 of which came after the franchise’s move.
We have our second and final tie. There was a stretch of time when Sakic and Iginla were both in their primes and among the best players in the NHL. However, Iginla was playing until as recently as 2017, which is why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame yet. After all, a guy with 625 career goals is a lock to be in the NHL, especially considering that he began his career in 1996, well into the throes of the trap era.
Andreychuk was never a superstar and only made two All-Star Games, but he kept himself in great shape, which is how he was able to rack up so many goals. He had 20 goals in his five final full seasons, including one season when he was 40. After the lockout he returned for a shortened season as a 42-year-old, adding six goals to his total. That got him up to 640.
Cue the Irish jig! Detroit Red Wings fans of the ‘90s will get that reference. An Irish tune was played whenever Shanahan scored at Joe Louis Arena, and he did that many times. After all, he tallied 356 of his 656 career goals wearing the Winged Wheel. Also 44 of them were in his one season with the Hartford Whalers.
He was known as “Lucky Luc,” and that’s maybe because of some of the guys he had as teammates. Although, it’s actually Wayne Gretzky who joined him in Los Angeles, not the other way around. Also, Robitaille hit the ground running in his career, as he scored 45 goals in his Calder-winning rookie campaign. Those were the first goals of the 668 he finished with.
Speaking of coming out of the gates with a bang, nobody has ever done that quite like Selanne. No seriously. The Finnish Flash scored 76 goals as a rookie, still an NHL record. It was one of three seasons where he led the league in goals, two of which came in Anaheim where he played the bulk of his legendary career. Selanne hung on until he was 43 but never quite got to 700 goals. Still, finishing with 684 is none too shabby.
Lemieux had a great career. He scored 690 goals and won three Hart trophies. And yet it could have been so much better. Injuries and illness limited “Super Mario” to a mere 915 career games. That’s an incredible goals-per-game ratio. With better health, Lemieux would have soared past 700, and possibly even 800, goals.
Early in his career, Yzerman was an offensive dynamo. He had back-to-back seasons with at least 60 goals. Then Scotty Bowman showed up and got Stevie Y to focus on his defensive play. It won him a Selke and helped him lift three Cups but may have hindered his goal scoring a bit. Despite that, he finished with 692 goals, eking past Lemieux.
Speaking of contemporaries who just eked past each other, and franchise legends, Messier finished with 694 goals. Of course, he retired two seasons before Lemieux and Yzerman. What’s the matter, guys? Couldn’t hang on to score a few more goals? Yes, Messier spent a lot of time in Edmonton with Gretzky, but he scored 302 goals after leaving the Oilers.
We’ve got our final active player and also, the first member of the 700 goal club. Ovechkin did that in 2019-20, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down. He’s led the NHL in goals eight times. Some are even wondering if Ovechkin could take a run at the career mark for goals. He has a long way to go, but he’s only 35, and he already has 716 tallies.
We don’t expect you to be surprised by the fact Gartner scored over 700 goals in his career, but only because we’ve spent over a decade saying, “Can you believe Gartner scored over 700 goals in his career? It’s true, though. He never led the league in goals or points. He never made an All-NHL team. What he did, though, was score at least 30 goals in 17 of his 19 NHL campaigns en route to 708 career goals.
Esposito was the first player to hit the 700-goal mark. He completely changed the landscape of the NHL when he scored 76 goals in the 1970-71 season. That was one of the six times he led the league in goals, and that was six consecutive seasons by the way. When all was said and done, Espo had 717 goals, mostly with Boston.
It was hard for Dionne to get as much love as he deserved, given that he began his career in the shadow of Phil Esposito and then found himself overshadowed by Wayne Gretzky. He never led the league in goals, and won only one Art Ross. Dionne won two Lady Byngs but zero Harts. Oh well. He’ll have to settle for having 731 goals.
For years, Dionne was the third-highest goal scorer in NHL history. Then, Hull, son of Bobby, bested him. This is a dude who scored at least 70 goals three seasons in a row. Once he lit the lamp a whopping 86 times! He had at least 25 goals in every season of his career (we’re forgetting about his five-game stint with the Coyotes) and tallied 741 total goals.
Jagr is another case of what could have been. When he was 35, Jagr left the NHL and went to the KHL. He then returned when he was 39. Had he stayed, might he have set the record? He left the NHL with 766 career goals. We say “left the NHL” because he’s still playing in the Czech Republic. After all, Jagr played in the NHL until he was 45. That kind of balanced out the years in Russia.
Now we get to the big two. Let’s start with Mr. Hockey. Before "The Great One," he was the greatest player in NHL history. Howe did play 26 seasons in the NHL, which is partially why he managed to score 801 goals. On top of that, he played six seasons in the WHA, suiting up for the Whalers until he was 50. He added 174 more goals in that league.
You knew where this list ended. Gretzky owns so many NHL records, yet he was actually more of a playmaker. Gretzky led the league in assists 16 times but led in goals “only” five times. Of course that includes a season where he scored 92 goals, a record that will never be beat. When Gretzky hung up his skates, he had 894 goals. Will somebody beat that record someday? Possibly, but for now, nobody has scored like Gretzky.