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Phil Kessel and the 1,000-point quest

Observers of National Hockey League milestones took great interest when the Vancouver Canucks brought in veteran forward Phil Kessel for a workout last week. That’s because along with his three Stanley Cup victories Kessel is also well within reach of a major scoring mark – 1,000 career points.

Kessel played last season for the Vegas Golden Knights, picking up 14 goals and 36 points in 82 regular-season games to push him to 992 career points. An unrestricted free agent in the summer, the 36-year-old forward failed to get a contract to start the season, keeping him eight points shy of 1,000 points.

That has him sitting 100th all-time in NHL scoring, with 98 players having put up 1,000 points over the course of their NHL careers and Jason Spezza sitting just ahead of him in 99th spot with 995 points.

Ironman Kessel began his career with the Boston Bruins

Kessel, the NHL’s ironman with a record streak of 1,064 consecutive games, started his career with the Boston Bruins after being taken fifth overall by them in the NHL Draft of 2006. He was then traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring at least 20 goals in all six of his seasons in Toronto, before getting dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins he won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017.

Kessel then played three full seasons for the Arizona Coyotes before signing with the Golden Knights.

But even if Kessel does not reach 1,000 points for his career he will still be sitting among some select company on the NHL all-time scoring list. Just behind him is Paul Kariya, with 989 points in 989 games – thanks to a career cut short by injuries. Rick Middleton, Dave Keon, and Andy Bathgate had 988, 986, and 973 points, respectively, in their NHL careers, while longtime Coyotes captain Shane Doan had 972.

And then there’s The Rocket himself, Maurice Richard, who managed 966 points (including 544 goals) over the course of his 978-game NHL career for the Montreal Canadiens from 1942 through 1960.

Zetterberg, Muller, Robinson, Tocchet topped 950 points

The only other players above 950 career NHL points are Henrik Zetterberg (960), Kirk Muller (959), Larry Robinson (958), and Rick Tocchet (952). Blake Wheeler (943) had a chance to reach 950 points this year but suffered a lower-body injury and is not expected to return during the regular season. Wheeler will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, and at 37 years old will try to latch on for one more season.

While Wheeler will not get to 950 points this season, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will surely surge past that mark and set himself up at the very least to reach 1,000 points early next season.

McDavid enters action on Friday with 85 points in 51 games, and 935 points in 620 games in his career. That leaves him needing 65 points to reach 1,000, with just 29 games left in the season for the Oilers. But that is not an impossible mountain to climb for McDavid – he has 14 points in his past five games.

Ten active NHL players have hit the 1,000-point plateau

Whoever hits the 1,000-point plateau next – be it Kessel or McDavid – they will join a club that includes only 10 active NHL players. Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are well ahead of that field with over 1,500 career points each, and Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane have both passed the 1,200-point mark.

Anze Kopitar and Steven Stamkos have both gone past the 1,100-point mark, while Claude Giroux, Joe Pavelski, Nicklas Backstrom, and John Tavares are also members of the 1,000-point club – Tavares hit the number back in December against the New York Islanders, accomplishing the feat in 1,054 career games.

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With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.