NHL Power Rankings: Every team's single-season goal-scoring record edition

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) skates after being announced as the night's first star following third period NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets, in Toronto, Thursday, March 31, 2022. (Frank Gunn/CP)

For four decades, Rick Vaive stood alone atop the Toronto Maple Leafs’ record books, his 54 goals scored during the 1981-82 season outlasting many excellent outputs from his peers and players that followed.

Now, he’s got company.

With his hat trick Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Auston Matthews’ goals total for the 2021-22 season matched the long-standing single-season record set by Vaive. One more, and he’ll have sole possession. Six more, and he’ll become the first Maple Leaf to ever hit the 60-goal plateau.

Matthews, of course, isn’t the only NHLer making this kind of history this season – but he is the most recent, and as the campaign nears its end, he’s setting a new standard with every puck that goes in as this year’s front-runner for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, awarded annually to the player who finishes the year with the most goals.

To peruse through the NHL history books of sensational seasons gone by is to remind ourselves of the era of high-scoring hockey and the legends who lit the lamp on a near-nightly basis. So, while many records are meant to be broken, it’s safe to say many more are here to stay.

With that in mind, we’re taking a little trip down NHL memory lane in this week’s power rankings, highlighting every team’s record hold for most goals in a single season. Let’s dig in.  

(x = clinched playoff berth)

1. x - Colorado Avalanche (50-14-6)

The man leading the front office also leads the Avalanche in the record books. You’ll find Joe Sakic’s name printed throughout the lists of single-season and all-time feats, and it’s no surprise that his success is directly tied to that of the team’s – he twice surpassed the 50-goal mark, and led the Avalanche to Stanley Cups in both years. But although Sakic’s 54-goal season in 2000-01 still technically stands in Avalanche history, it’s Michel Goulet who set the standard first while with the Quebec Nordiques before they moved to Denver. Goulet scored 57 goals in the 1982-83 season and spent the next three years trying to match it.

2. x - Florida Panthers (49-15-6)

Sunday’s playoff-clinching victory over Buffalo also saw Jonathan Huberdeau set a new single-season points record for Florida, his 97th of the season one-upping the previous mark set by teammate Aleksander Barkov in 2018-19. He’s now at 102 and counting, the first Panther to pass the 100-point mark in a season. Seventy-six of his points came on assists, also a franchise record. As for goal-scoring, however, that still belongs to Pavel Bure at the turn of the century. Since Bure put up 59 goals in 2000-01 with the Panthers, no one has come close to touching the franchise record.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (45-17-8)

Blaine Stoughton ushered in a new era for Hartford hockey in 1979-80, scoring 56 goals in the Whalers’ inaugural NHL season. Since the organization’s reincarnation as the Hurricanes, however, it’s Eric Staal’s 45-goal campaign en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2005-06 that stands as the single-season record in Carolina.

4. New York Rangers (45-20-6)

Considering he’s best known for his 10-year career with the Penguins over the course of the 1990s, it’s a bit surprising to see Jaromir Jagr’s name pop up atop the single-season goals list in New York a decade later. Ten years after putting up a personal-best 62 in Pittsburgh in 1995-96, Jagr wrote himself into the Rangers’ history books with a 54-goal effort in 2005-06 – his third and final 50-plus goal season in the NHL. Can Chris Kreider catch him? Kreider’s previous personal best was 28 goals in a season, and he’s currently got 47 – good for the sixth best goal-scoring season in franchise history. With 11 games to go, there’s a chance we see more history.

5. Calgary Flames (42-19-9)

The legendary Lanny McDonald (and his legendary moustache) blew away his previous personal bests when he scored a whopping 66 goals in 80 games during the 1982-83 season.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (45-19-6)

Pandemic and injuries kept Auston Matthews from reaching the 50-goal milestone the past two seasons, but he’s proven unstoppable this year as the front-runner to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. Matthews, who won the goal-scoring title last year, matched Rick Vaive’s single-season goals record of 54 (dating back to 1982) with a hat trick against the Lightning on Monday night.

7. Boston Bruins (44-21-5)

Phil Esposito’s early-1970s outputs landed him the top four spots on the Bruins’ single-season goals list. His 76 goals in 1970-71 stood as the league record for a decade until some guy named Wayne Gretzky came along. Esposito now ranks fifth league-wide on the all-time single-season goals list.

8. Minnesota Wild (43-21-5)

Marian Gaborik scored 42 goals in 2007-08, and although Eric Staal matched it 10 years later, the record still belongs to the Slovakian superstar – for a few more days, anyway. Kirill Kaprizov has wasted no time writing his name into Minnesota’s history books since his arrival last season. First, he eclipsed Gaborik's longstanding rookie records for goals and points in 2020-21 and, just last weekend, he passed his single-season franchise record for points with his 84th of the year (he has 87 and counting). Two more goals and Kaprizov can claim that record, too.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning (43-20-7)

Five of the Lightning’s top seven single-season goals totals belong to captain Steven Stamkos, whose 60-marker campaign in 2011-12 has yet to be matched. That total is significant not just in Tampa Bay but around the league – no player has reached the 60-goal mark since.

10. Edmonton Oilers (41-25-5)

You already know it’s Wayne Gretzky. In case you need a refresher on just how great the Great One was, however: He scored 92 goals in 1981-82. Ninety-two. He also added 120 assists (!!!) for 212 regular-season points that year – just his third season in the NHL. It would be his first season surpassing 200 points, something he’d go on to do three more times during those Oilers dynasty days.

11. St. Louis Blues (40-20-10)

In 1990-91, Brett Hull scored an incredible 86 goals, surpassing Super Mario Lemieux and landing six goals shy of Wayne Gretzky’s league record 92. Hull’s total remains the third-best single-season total league-wide, and it’s safe to say this is a slice of St. Louis hockey history that will be preserved forever.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins (41-20-10)

Over the course of his incredible career in Pittsburgh, Mario Lemieux filled his trophy case with six Art Ross Trophies, four Ted Lindsay Awards, three MVPs, a Calder and a pair of Conn Smythes to go with his two Stanley Cups. His 85-goal campaign in 1988-89 is just one of the many ways he leaves a lasting impact on this franchise.

13. Washington Capitals (38-22-10)

Since first donning Capitals threads, Alex Ovechkin has led the team in goals every single season and has had his name engraved on the Rocket Richard Trophy a whopping nine times. He also won the Art Ross for his personal-best efforts in 2007-08, which included a team-record 65 goals.

14. Nashville Predators (40-25-4)

Unlike most other organizations, you don’t have to search the history books to find the single-season goal-scoring leader in Nashville. Just a few weeks ago, a two-goal night against Anaheim saw Filip Forsberg tie and then break the franchise record, set by Viktor Arvidsson in 2018-19. Three more goals since then has Forsberg’s record at 38 goals and counting, with 13 games still to go. (Arvidsson’s record had since also been surpassed by Matt Duchene.)

15. Los Angeles Kings (38-24-10)

Bernie Nicholls went from being a consistent 30- to 40-goal scorer throughout much of the 1980s to a 70-goal franchise history-maker practically overnight. Part of that was, of course, just his own elite skills. The other part? He started suiting up alongside his new teammate Wayne Gretzky on the power play in 1988-89.

16. Vegas Golden Knights (39-29-4)

William Karlsson set the bar pretty high, becoming one of the team’s most surprising stars during the Golden Knights’ inaugural season, in 2017-18. His 43 goals are 11 more than any Golden Knight has managed in a single season since.

17. Dallas Stars (40-26-3)

Dino Ciccarelli’s 55-goal season with the 1981-82 Minnesota North Stars technically holds the record, but Mike Modano’s 50 in 1993-94 is the best campaign ever put together by a player in Dallas.

18. Vancouver Canucks (33-28-10)

Pavel Bure put up historic numbers right from the start of his Canucks career. One year after setting the franchise record for goals scored by a rookie (34), Bure posted back-to-back 60-goal seasons, in 1992-93 and 1993-94. Bure, who later went on to enjoy great success in the Sunshine State with the Panthers, is one of just two players on this list to hold the single-season goals record for two franchises.

19. Winnipeg Jets (33-28-10)

The Jets’ complicated history makes this one, well, not as simple as just looking at the stats. Teemu Selanne scored the most goals while wearing a Jets sweater during his incredible 76-goal rookie season in 1992-93. Those Jets, though, became the Phoenix Coyotes. Because today’s Jets came courtesy of the Atlanta Thrashers relocation, you’ll find Ilya Kovalchuk atop the franchise records in single-season scoring, thanks to his 52-goal season in 2005-06. Since 2011, however, when the Jets officially returned to Winnipeg, it’s actually Patrik Laine who holds the record, with 44 goals in 2017-18 – though that record might not last long, considering Kyle Connor’s got 41 and still has 11 games to go.

20. New York Islanders (32-28-9)

To fully appreciate the incredible talent that was Mike Bossy in the '70s and '80s, head over to the Islanders’ franchise stat page. Eight of the best-ever goal-scoring seasons, including the top six, belong to Bossy. In 10 NHL seasons, all on Long Island, Bossy surpassed the 50-goal milestone nine times and passed 60 five times. No Islander has scored more than Bossy, who tallied 573 goals in 752 regular season games. His 69-goal season as an NHL sophomore in 1978-79 still stands as his best. Truly one of the game’s all-time greats.

21. Buffalo Sabres (26-34-11)

Alexander Mogilny’s 76-goal season in 1992-93 saw him finish the campaign with 20 more goals than any other Sabre in franchise history. And he did it in just 77 games.

22. Columbus Blue Jackets (33-32-6)

Six of the Blue Jackets’ top 10 individual goal-scoring seasons belong to Rick Nash, whose 41 goals in 2003-04 saw him lead the league in the category. In 2018-19, Cam Atkinson matched Nash’s record but it remains undefeated.

23. Detroit Red Wings (28-34-9)

As captain of the Red Wings for two decades, Steve Yzerman led the team to a trio of Stanley Cups and wrote his name into the record books several times over. He put up five of the 10 best goal-scoring totals in team history, his 65-goal season in 1988-89 still standing as the best.

24. San Jose Sharks (29-31-9)

In 440 games over six seasons in San Jose, Jonathan Cheechoo scored 165 goals – one third of which came in a single season. His remarkable performance in 2005-06 saw Cheechoo score a team-record 56 goals and earn the Rocket Richard Trophy in the process. His 24 power-play goals that season is also a franchise record.

25. Anaheim Ducks (28-32-12)

In addition to holding the single-season goals record for the Jets-turned-Coyotes franchise with his 76-goal rookie season in 1992-93, Teemu Selanne also has the record in Anaheim. He scored 52 goals in 1997-98 to break his own record from one season prior. One year later, Selanne again led the league in goals, with 47, and became the first-ever recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy awarded annually ever since.

26. Chicago Blackhawks (24-35-11)

Of all the single-season goal-scoring records throughout the league, the Blackhawks’ has been held the longest. Bobby Hull’s 58 goals in 1968-69 is still intact. Al Secord and Jeremy Roenick are the only Blackhawks not named Hull to reach the 50-goal mark in a season. Hull managed it five times throughout his NHL run.

27. Ottawa Senators (26-37-6)

Dany Heatley’s first two seasons as a Senator brought nearly identical back-to-back 50-goal campaigns, in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Twenty-three of his 50 goals in 2005-06, which landed him atop the franchise single-season rankings, came on the power play.

28. New Jersey Devils (24-40-6)

No Devil has ever scored 50 goals in a season, but Brian Gionta came close in 2005-06. His 48 goals that year, half of which came on the power play, were far and away the best output of his career.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (22-37-11)

Reggie Leach went on a remarkable run in 1975-76, leading the reigning Stanley Cup champs with 61 goals – a record few Flyers have come close to reaching – but what he accomplished in the post-season that followed was even more impressive. That spring, Leach scored 19 goals and tallied 24 points in 16 playoff games. Even though they ultimately lost the Stanley Cup Final, the Montreal Canadiens spoiling their search for a third straight championship, Leach was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. To date, he’s one of just a handful of players to earn the award while losing the Stanley Cup Final, and the only non-goalie to do so.

30. Montreal Canadiens (19-40-11)

With such a rich history of goal-scorers – including the man behind the scoring title’s trophy, Maurice “Rocket” Richard – it’s a fun exercise to scroll down the list of Habs greats of decades past. That list is topped by Steve Shutt and Guy Lafleur, whose 60-goal seasons came back-to-back, in 1976-77 and 1977-78, respectively. No Canadien has hit the 60-goal milestone since.

31. Arizona Coyotes (22-43-5)

Considering the organization’s history in Winnipeg before being moved to the desert, the Coyotes’ record book is understandably filled with Jets legends. Teemu Selanne’s remarkable rookie record of 76 goals remains the highest single-season total, and the late, great, Dale Hawerchuk has six of the top 10 seasons. The only player to break the top 10 while wearing Coyotes threads, however, was Keith Tkachuk, whose 52 goals in 1996-97 is good for third all-time and first since landing in Arizona.

32. Seattle Kraken (22-42-6)

To be determined, but with 25 goals to his name and 12 games left on the schedule, it looks like Jared McCann will be the first to own this slice of franchise history.

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.