Wayne Gretzky's Stats vs. Today's Top 5 Hockey Players
For his 20-years as a professional hockey player, Wayne Gretzky's stats were unbelievable. As an NHL player, he played for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and the New York Rangers. As the Center for each of these teams, Gretzky racked up record after record and helped popularize hockey in America. After his retirement in 1999, Wayne Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also gained the title of the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season.
Wayne Gretzky's Stats From His 1979-1999 Career
Wayne Gretzky's rise and eventual induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame came after years of breaking countless records. As a freak, or athletic god, of nature, Gretzky spent his time as a pro NHL player earning every superlative name in the book. By the end of his career, he held 61 NHL records, 40 regular-season records, and 6 All-Star records. His final stats include 2,857 points, 894 goals, and 1,963 assists. These numbers mean he topped his role model Gordie Howe's record for goals and remained the NHL's top scorer to this day.
One of the many remarkable facts about Wayne Gretzky's career is that he would still be the leading NHL scorer just based on assists. Talk about unbelievable talent. It's also a bit funny to consider how some of today's top NHL players are barely older than 20, the age of Gretzky's career. The best way to compare today's NHL players to Gretzky is by analyzing their stats per season to Wayne Gretzky's stats. In total, Gretzky impressively averaged 195.5 points (92 goals and 130 assists) per season.
Current NHL Players' Stats
To understand the magnitude of Wayne Gretzky's stats and success, we will look at how these top five NHL players are performing. We chose the players based on the NHL's 2019 top players list made by researchers, producers, and on-air personalities.
1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers.
At only 23-years-old, McDavid has topped the NHL's list of the best players for three seasons in a row. His 2018-19 career stats on the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky's old team, include 116 points, 41 goals, and 75 assists. Not to mention, he's reached 100 points three seasons in a row. Plus, he had at least one point in 66 out of the 78 games. Another impressive feat of McDavid's is that he won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, which Gretzky also won nine times. This young prodigy is talented in his own right, but even his stats pale compared to Gretzky's stats.
2. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kucherov is another impressive NHL player who's even beat out other famed Gretzky era players such as Mario Lemieux for his impressive stats. For his 2017-18 season, Kucherov led the NHL with 128 points, 41 goals, and 87 assists. This is the most points an NHL player has scored since Mario Lemieux's 161 as the Penguins forward. It's vital to mention Mario Lemieux's career because he's another legendary NHL player for his 17 seasons with the Pittsburg Penguins from 1984-2006. Lemieux averaged 141 points per season, close to Gretzky's 195 average, so he might have carried the torch after Gretzky's retirement in 1999. Now, it seems like Kucherov has taken that torch too with his record-breaking stats.
3. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburg Penguins.
Lemieux's team took on a young blood Sidney Crosby, noted as "the most complete forward in the NHL." He earned this title due to his lead with 551 points, 208 goals, and 343 assists since his 2013-14 season. He's also earned 84 points for six straight seasons, and for his 2017-18 season, he racked up 100 points, 35 goals, and 65 assists. Also, Crosby earned 3 Stanley Cup championships by the time he turned 30, which is only one less championship than Gretzky. He's also gained 2 Olympic gold medals and World Cup MVP titles for his home country, Canada. He did this despite several severe injuries during his 20s. Some say if you give him 5 or 10 more years, he might be neck and neck with Gretzky.
4. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche.
Another young player named Nathan MacKinnon has made waves in the NHL. When he first entered the NHL, he was the No.1 pick in the 2013 Draft, similar to Sidney Crosby. By 25, MacKinnon has already helped the Colorado Avalanche move to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. He was also the runner-up for the acclaimed Hart Trophy for his 2017-18 season due to his 97 points, 39 goals, and 58 assists. This season placed him fifth overall in the League.
5. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane, a big name in Chicago, made the list of top NHL players for his stats and contribution towards three Stanley Cup wins. Kane racked up 110 points, 44 goals, and 66 assists in his 2019 season. Also, in his past four seasons, he's racked up 381, which is currently the most of any active player. He's also scored at least 100 points with 21 goals in each of those four NHL seasons. Although this is a significant achievement, Wayne Gretzky's average of 195 points with 92 goals still stands as the numbers to beat.
It's Clear That Wayne Gretzky Is Still "The Great One"
After looking at five of the NHL's top hockey players today, it's safe to say that Gretzky's stats were on another level. For one, his record for goals in a season still stands today. He's also the only NHL player to total over 200 points in a single season. Today, top players typically total 100-110 points per season. His record for assists is also unmatched as his average was 130 per season. The active player with the highest score is Nikita Kucherov with 87 assists.
The Magic Behind Wayne Gretzky's Stats
While current NHL players may never reach Gretzky's stats, they are successful by today's standards. There are also a few reasons why it might be unfair to pit them against Gretzky. For one, there's always at least one player in each sport whose skill goes far beyond athletic, or even human, expectations. Think Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Phelps. Wayne Gretzky is on their level of unbelievable talent. But the funny thing is, Gretzky didn't look like a hockey player with record-breaking stats. At 6'0" and 185 pounds, he wasn't incredibly big or strong. He wasn't the fastest on the ice either. However, he could always hit his spot when he saw an opening. The combination of his hawk-like eyes and calculating mind made him an unstoppable force. And as you learned, nobody has won like him since.
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