Hockey February 12, 2019


Earlier this season, Kris Letang did his first major edit of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ record book when he crossed Paul Coffey’s name from the top of the list of highest scoring defensemen in franchise history.

Entering the campaign with 437 points, Letang needed only two games to get the four points necessary to surpass Coffey’s 440-point total. But the taller task facing Letang in his quest to put himself head-and-shoulders above Coffey in the pantheon of Penguins’ rearguards came with the goal total. At 96 coming into the year, Letang was 12 back of Coffey’s Pittsburgh-best mark of 112 goals, and that was no small hill to climb for Letang given he had only scored more than a dozen goals in a campaign once in his career prior to this season.

You can go ahead and make that twice, though, because on Monday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, Letang notched his 13th tally of the season and pushed himself one goal ahead of Coffey in the process. Letang is now officially the Penguins’ all-time leading goal-scoring defenseman and the highest-point scorer to ever skate on Pittsburgh’s blueline.

Letang isn’t alone in holding that distinction, though, as there are several other top defensemen who hold their franchise’s all-time marks in both goals and points, while a number of others are in tracking down organizational records in one or both categories. Here’s a look at the all-time and active blueline leaders in goals and points for each franchise:

Anaheim Ducks: Scott Niedermayer is likely the first defenseman one thinks of when they think about all-time great Ducks defensemen, thus making it fitting that he’s the greatest blueliner scorer in franchise history. His 60 goals and 264 points are both top marks in Anaheim’s history. Not for long, though. Cam Fowler is breathing down Niedermayer’s neck, and is just five goals and five points shy of overtaking both of the Hall of Famer’s Ducks marks.

Arizona Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 109 goals are already more than any other blueliner in Coyotes history, and that’s even if you rightly include the franchise’s days spent in Winnipeg. When it comes to points, though, ‘OEL’ is still more than 200 away from surpassing Teppo Numminen as the highest scoring defenseman in Arizona’s history. Numminen had 534 points with the Jets/Coyotes, while Ekman-Larsson sits at 317.

Boston Bruins: On about one-third of the teams in the league, Zdeno Chara’s 141 goals and 460 points would put him either atop or within striking distance the all-time goals and points leads among defensemen. On the Bruins, though, Chara is in a laughably distant fourth in goals and third in points. Chara trails Dit Clapper in the goals category by 71 tallies, while Bobby Orr’s 264 and 888 points place him second all-time and Ray Bourque nearly laps Orr with an incredible 395 goals and 1,506 points as a Bruin.

Buffalo Sabres: Sabres coach Phil Housley has a front row seat to those chasing his franchise-best 178 goals and 558 points by a blueliner. He’s likely watching one of the two defensemen who will pursue the mark, too. Rasmus Ristolainen’s 36 goals and 187 points put him the closest to top spot among active defensemen, but it might only be a matter of time before rookie sensation Rasmus Dahlin starts creeping up the list.

Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano is already third in goals with 123 and will likely move into third spot on the Flames’ list of highest scoring blueliners of all-time, surpassing Paul Reinhart’s 445 points by the end of the campaign. But currently at 432 points, Giordano has a ways to go before he can eclipse second-place Gary Suter, who had 564 points for the organization, and Calgary’s captain has about zero chance of catching Al MacInnis, who is in top spot with 822 points for the Flames. Giordano will, however, likely pass Suter’s 128-goal total. Not a bad consolation prize.

Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Faulk’s tenure in Carolina has been prosperous. So prosperous, in fact, that Faulk can lay claim to the franchise marks for goals by a defenseman (79) and points by a defenseman (243). The latter was claimed earlier this month, and he’s one of eight active defensemen who holds his franchise’s top points mark.

Chicago Blackhawks: There’s no question that No. 2 will hang from the rafters of the United Center when Duncan Keith hangs up his skates. Some will argue, too, that he was the best defenseman to ever pull on a Blackhawks jersey. He won’t be the highest-scoring rearguard in franchise history, though. His 565 points put him well behind Doug Wilson, who scored 779 points in Chicago. As for goals, Keith’s 94 put him in fourth spot, behind active leader Brent Seabrook, who has 100. Both are well back of Wilson’s 225 tallies, though.

Colorado Avalanche: Who’s the first blueliner who comes to mind when you think of the Avalanche? Adam Foote? Sandis Ozolinsh? Maybe Erik Johnson? All good picks for the highest scoring defenseman in franchise history, too. But it turns out Tyson Barrie is the all-time leader with 288 points, 13 more than John-Michael Liles. Barrie can take over the franchise lead in goals by a defenseman, too, with six more goals with the Avalanche. It’s currently held by Ozolinsh, who scored 72 goals.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Fedor Tyutin has played more games and scored more points than any other defenseman in Blue Jackets history, and also has the franchise’s second-highest goal total among defenseman, his 39 just two shy of Rostislav Klesla’s all-time mark. Both the goal and point marks are in peril, though, as Seth Jones continues to climb each list. At 153 points, he’s one back of Jack Johnson for second on the all-time list and 33 points shy of surpassing Tyutin’s 185 points as a Blue Jacket. As for goals, Jones needs only five more to pull ahead of Klesla.

Dallas Stars: Sergei Zubov holds the Stars’ all-time marks and it’s not particularly close. His 111 goals and 549 points are 13 and 136 more than second-place Craig Hartsburg’s 98 goals and 413 points. John Klingberg is in hot pursuit of Zubov’s franchise-best marks, though. Klingberg has already scored 49 goals and 241 points in 340 games in Dallas, paces that work out to nearly 120 goals and 600 points should Klingberg’s tenure with the Stars last as long as Zubov’s.

Detroit Red Wings: It goes without saying that Nicklas Lidstrom is the leader in both categories and will be for a long, long time. His 1,142 points are more than double that of any other defenseman in franchise history, and his 264 goals are nearly 80 more than Reed Larson’s second-best 188 goals. The most of any active defenseman in both categories Niklas Kronwall’s 82 goals and 419 points. After that, no other active rearguard has either 30 goals or 200 points. Lidstrom’s marks may go untouched for decades upon decades.

Edmonton Oilers: Paul Coffey is the second-highest scoring defenseman in NHL history, posting an incredible 1,531 points during his career. But his franchise mark in Edmonton, 669 points, actually isn’t all that unattainable. Yes, it’s a sizeable total, but add a high-scoring rearguard to the mix and it’s a number that’s within reach across a career spent with the Oilers. Coffey’s 209 goals, on the other hand? It’s going to take a world-class talent to even think of touching that.

Florida Panthers: Want an idea of how historically thin the Panthers’ defense corps has been? Robert Svehla is the all-time leader with 290 points and Aaron Ekblad, he of five seasons in the NHL, is already the franchise’s fourth-highest scoring defenseman — and active leader — with 159 points. You can bank on Ekblad, whose 63 goals are the most ever by a Panthers defenseman, taking over top spot within three to five seasons.

Los Angeles Kings: Hall of Famer Rob Blake’s franchise-leading 494-point total won’t stand much longer with Drew Doughty knocking on the door. There promises to be some lean years in Los Angeles in the coming seasons, but the Kings blueliner will undoubtedly continue to pile up points. And at 453 points, only 42 point shy of surpassing Blake, Doughty could realistically take over top spot in franchise history as soon as next season. As for the goal total, Doughty might need the bulk of his eight-year pact to surpass Blake’s franchise-best 161 tallies.

Minnesota Wild: Ryan Suter’s big-money deal might be a bit of an albatross for a team that might find itself in a state of flux in the near future, but he’s certainly earned his keep. Across seven seasons in Minnesota, he’s become the franchise’s top scorer with 292 points and counting. Meanwhile, he’s helped Jared Spurgeon, the blueline’s all-time goals leader with 66, really round into form. The chase is on, though, courtesy of Matt Dumba. He’s sidelined right now, but Dumba’s offensive showing this season brings with it the promise of increased contributions in the near future. His 56 goals put him only 10 back of Spurgeon, while his 150 points are about half of Suter’s output.

Montreal Canadiens: If forced to hazard a guess at which active Canadiens blueliner was the closest to Larry Robinson’s franchise-best 197 goals and 883 points by a rearguard, who would you pick? If it was anyone other than Jeff Petry, you’re wrong. He’s the highest scoring active Canadiens defenseman, nearly six goals and 52 points clear of Shea Weber. Before the franchise let him walk, Andrei Markov was third in goals (119) and tied for second all-time with 572 points, matching Guy Lapointe’s total.

Nashville Predators: Here’s where Shea Weber does have top spot. Over the course of his 11-season tenure in Nashville, Weber notched 166 goals and 443 points. The former is safe. No one is catching Weber anytime soon. The latter, though? Weber isn’t in immediate danger of losing the franchise mark, but it won’t be all that long before Roman Josi takes top spot. His 337 points put him little more than 100 points behind Weber, and Josi has scored at a roughly 59-point clip over his past five seasons. That would suggest he’s in line to take spot by 2020-21, assuming Nashville retains his services beyond the 2019-20 campaign.

New Jersey Devils: Niedermayer is the one of two defenseman to lead two franchises in both categories, and he tops the Devils with a franchise-best 112 goals and 476 points. Close behind him is Scott Stevens, who scored 93 goals and 430 points during his tenure in New Jersey. The best active defensemen are Andy Greene, who has 45 goals and 225 points, and, surprisingly, Damon Severson, whose 25 goals and 119 points put him within striking distance of a top-10 spot in scoring among blueliners in Devils franchise history.

New York Islanders: The Islanders highest active scoring defenseman is Nick Leddy, who has notched 37 goals and 183 points in his five seasons with the franchise. That still puts him nearly 270 goals and 900 points shy of matching Denis Potvin’s franchise record 310 goals and 1,052 points by a defenseman. Not until New York lands a surefire cornerstone defender will Potvin have a true challenger. Even then, his marks will probably remain safe.

New York Rangers: The active leader was at one point Dan Girardi, and then he was bought out. Then it was Ryan McDonagh, and he was traded. (Coincidentally, both now play for the Tampa Bay Lightning.) And that means the active leader in both categories is Marc Staal, who has 41 goals and 176 points during his time with the Rangers. There’s no use comparing any of those rearguards to the all-time leader, though, because Brian Leetch’s 240 goals and 981 points will probably remain the top marks well into the future.

Ottawa Senators: Unless Erik Karlsson makes Senators fans’ dreams come true and returns to Ottawa, he will remain the all-time leader at 126 goals and 518 points but his franchise-best marks will stop climbing there. The good news, though, is that Ottawa has found another defender with as much offensive flair. Thomas Chabot’s 20 goals and 68 points put him second among active defensemen — Cody Ceci’s 30 goals and 110 points are tops — but he’s got the offensive wizardry to eventually challenge Karlsson’s all-time marks.

Philadelphia Flyers: For a franchise as storied as the Flyers, the all-time scoring marks for a defenseman are rather obtainable. Mark Howe holds the record with 138 goals and 480 points in Philadelphia. Shayne Gostisbehere, who has 42 goals and 173 points and is the active leader and Ivan Provorov, who has 27 goals and 89 points, is steadily climbing. If either are around for the long haul, Howe’s marks could realistically fall.

San Jose Sharks: All Brent Burns has done over the past few seasons is widen the gap between he and the rest of the field. At 116 goals and 398 points, Burns is now 41 goals and 100 points ahead of active challenger Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is third and second on the respective all-time scoring lists. It’s unlikely that anyone is going to catch him within the next decade.

St. Louis Blues: MacInnis joins Niedermayer as the one of two defenseman to lead two separate franchises in both blueliner scoring categories. If the Blues retain the services of Alex Pietrangelo long term, though, MacInnis is could very well lose his spots atop St. Louis’ list. There is only a 41-goal and 74-point margin between Pietrangelo (86 goals and 378 points) and MacInnis (127 goals and 452 points). At his current scoring rate, Pietrangelo probably needs another two or three seasons in St. Louis to take top spot on the points list, while another five or six seasons should take care of the goals mark. Whether he achieves that may come down to his desire to re-sign with the Blues.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Across his 10 campaigns with the Lightning — yes, it’s been 10 seasons — Hedman has surpassed every scoring mark set by Tampa Bay blueliners in the past. He’s the all-time goals leader with 89, all-time assists leader with 312 and his 401 points are nearly 150 more than Dan Boyle, who’s the second-highest scoring defender in franchise history. There’s no other active defenseman anywhere close.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Borje Salming took over as the highest-scoring defenseman in Maple Leafs history during the 1980-81 campaign and the all-time goals lead the following season. He has held the marks ever since. The closest anyone has come to overtaking Salming is Tomas Kaberle, who ended his Toronto tenure with 83 goals, while his 520 points rank second all-time. And while Jake Gardiner is the active leader with 242 points, Morgan Rielly is the only realistic contender to pass Salming. Already ahead of Gardiner with 45 goals and only narrowly behind with 226 points, Rielly could take a shot at passing Salming’s 148-goal and 768-point total down the road.

Vancouver Canucks: Alex Edler steadily climbed the Canucks’ all-time list over the past several seasons and staked his claim to top spot on the points list last season when he surpassed Mattias Ohlund. Now, Edler’s 354 points are more than any other defenseman in Canucks history. But Edler, who has 89 goals for Vancouver, still needs five more tallies if he’s going to snatch the goals mark away from Ohlund, who scored 93 goals during his time with the Canucks.

Vegas Golden Knights: Given the Golden Knights are in their second season, the all-time list will likely be ever-changing. For now, though, it’s Colin Miller in top spot with 64 points and Shea Theodore’s 14 goals that lead all blueliners.

Washington Capitals: Calle Johansson’s days with the top point total among defensemen in Capitals’ history are numbered. His 474 points have been the top mark since he departed the franchise in 2003 and will remain the top mark though the remainder of this season, at least. It could be as early as next season, though, that John Carlson swoops in to take top spot. His 382 points are already the fifth-most among Washington defensemen. He is on pace to climb to 405 points by season’s end. And if he matches this season’s projected 72-point output again next year, he would pass Johansson by the end of the 2019-20 campaign. The goal total will be trickier for Carlson, though, as his 85 tallies are 64 fewer than Kevin Hatcher’s franchise-best 149.

Winnipeg Jets: Another instance of an active rearguard simply bolstering his spot atop the scoring list as Dustin Byfuglien continues to build on his franchise-best 122 goals and 415 points. Maybe someone — Josh Morrissey, perhaps? — can eventually pass Byfuglien’s point total, but good luck to anyone wishing to overtake that goal total. No active defenseman has more than 40, and the next-best all-time is Toby Enstrom, who scored 54 goals during his time with the franchise.



Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*