Scoring 500 goals in the NHL is a huge milestone. As is often said, scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in hockey. Since the formation NHL in 1917, only 46 players have recorded at least 500 goals. When Sidney Crosby hit that prestigious milestone last season, I started wondering about which players could be future 500 goal scorers and approximately when they might reach that mark. Here are who I think the next six 500-goal scorers will be.
Future 500 Goal Scorers
The captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning started the 2022-23 season with 481 career goals and already has four more in the first three games of the season. Since he is the active player who is the closest to 500 goals, it’s easy money to say that he will be to be the next player to reach the milestone.
Stamkos has also averaged 0.522 goals per game for his career, so he could reach the mark soon. However, my prediction is that he will cool off a bit after his hot start and not reach 500 until January 2023.
With his PPG last night, Steven Stamkos notched the 973rd point of his career & broke into the top 100 for career points in NHL history. Passing Shane Doan, who ranks 101st with 972 career points, Stamkos is now tied with Andy Bathgate for the 99th-most points all-time. pic.twitter.com/ReO5pYdiTx
— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) October 12, 2022
Malkin is 36 years old to start this season and is the oldest of the players on this list. Because of this, there is a chance that he significantly slows down and doesn’t end up reaching 500 goals. However, he is also currently second closest to the milestone among active players (445 goals) and has averaged 34 goals/82 games over the last three seasons.
Playing some of his shifts with Sidney Crosby also doesn’t hurt his chances. If he can remain healthy, he should reach 500 goals around April 2024.
3. Patrick Kane
No NHL player has more points over the past decade than Patrick Kane. However, though Kane has scored some highlight-reel goals in his career, he has been predominantly a playmaker. Of all the players on this list, Kane has the lowest goals-per-game rate (0.388).
However, he currently has 430 goals and is only 34 years old, so he still has a good chance of reaching 500 goals. Playing on the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks will probably slow him down a bit, but I still have him scoring his 500th in March of 2025.
4. John Tavares
Potentially the most controversial name on the list, John Tavares started his career with a reputation as an elite goal scorer. His numbers were hampered a bit playing in defense-first Long Island, but he scored his career-high 47 goals during his first season in Toronto. His goal-scoring rates have declined over the past three seasons, but he has still been averaging 30 goals per 82 games.
Tavares is only 32 years old and playing top-6 minutes for the high-octane Toronto Maple Leafs should keep his goals from continuing to drop too much. I see him reaching the 500 goal mark in November 2026.
The NHL’s reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Matthews also has the highest goals-per-game average of all active NHL players (0.63 goals-per-game compared to Ovi’s 0.61). Matthews currently only has 260 goals, but his other-worldly goal-scoring pace means that he will still definitely pass the 500-goal mark this decade.
Barring any serious injury, my prediction is that Matthews will reach the milestone in March 2028. He will only be 31 at that time, so he will still have lots of time to continue pursuing higher goal milestones.
Connor McDavid is a point-producing machine; it is conceivable that he could pass Wayne Gretzky’s record of 10 Art Ross Trophy wins (McDavid currently has four). He has, however, never won the Rocket Richard Trophy. In fact, the most goals he has ever scored in a season is 44.
Despite this, McDavid is still young enough that he should eventually hit 500 goals. His goals-per-game average is currently 0.50, and if he can keep up that pace with only minor injuries, he should reach the milestone by April 2030.
Fun Facts About 500 Goal Scorers
- The first player to reach the 500-goal mark was Maurice Richard (19 Oct 1957).
- The fastest player to 500 goals was Wayne Gretzky who scored his 500th goal in his 575th game. The slowest player to 500 goals so far was Ron Francis who scored his 500th goal in his 1533rd game
- Of those 46 players who have scored at least 500 goals, four are either still playing or not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame
- Of the 42 who are eligible, 37 have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame
- The five players to score at least 500 who are not in the Hall of Fame are Keith Tkachuk (538 goals), Pat Verbeek (522 goals), Pierre Turgeon (515 goals), Jeremy Roenick (513 goals), and Peter Bondra (503 goals).
- Three different players (Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, and Joe Mullen) scored their 500th goal against Patrick Roy. No other goalie has had that happen more than once.
- Keith Tkachuk, Mike Bossy, Jari Kurri, and Wayne Gretzky all scored their 500th goal into an empty net.
- The teams who have had the most players score their 500th goal as a member of their team are the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings (both have had five).