As we prepare for opening night of the 2021-22 NHL Season (less than a week to go!), the Tampa Bay Lightning have some players that are coming up on some career milestones. This is an exercise I usually like to do at the beginning of the season to see who is coming up on hitting those marks. For games played, I’ll focus on 400 games or more since 400 games marks six full seasons of NHL play. For goals, assists, and points, I like round 100 numbers. I try to keep it realistic though, as a player that usually scores 30 points is unlikely to get the 70 points they need to hit one of those milestones. Here is who to keep an eye out for different milestones.
Corey Perry currently sits at 1,094 games played so he will hit the 1,100 games plateau early in the season becoming the 202nd or 203rd NHL player to reach that mark. Jeff Carter is also still active with the Pittsburgh Penguins and is also sitting at 1,094 games played in his career. Assuming neither player misses any games to start the season, then Perry will hit 1,100 games played on October 25th on an away game against the Buffalo Sabres. Ironically, Jeff Carter would then hit 1,100 games the next night in a home game against... The Tampa Bay Lightning. So if Perry missed one of the first six games of the season, and Carter doesn’t miss any games, they would both play in the 1,100th game in the same game.
Steven Stamkos currently sits at 841 games played in his career and would hit 900 games on his 59th game of the season. The earliest that would come would be March 13th at the Vancouver Canucks if he doesn’t miss any games. Stamkos has built up quite an injury history over his career, so the likelihood of him missing some games is definitely there. However, from all reports, he’s feeling very good and healthy coming into the start of the season.
Zach Bogosian and Alex Killorn are both coming up on the 700 games mark. Bogosian has 689 career games, so he would hit the 700 game plateau early in the season. Killorn sits at 641 games, so like Stamkos, he should reach his milestone in March. When Killorn gets to 700 games, he’ll be just the 5th Lightning player to play 700 games with the organization behind Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis. Stamkos, and Victor Hedman.
Pat Maroon has played in 568 games in his career and needs 32 games to reach 600 games. The earliest possible game would be December 23rd on the road against the Arizona Coyotes. Ondrej Palat is also coming up on 600 games with 551 games played in his career. Even though he started in the NHL around the same time as Alex Killorn, Palat is trailing behind as he has had some injury issues almost every season of his career that has kept him from only playing more than 75 games once in his career. Palat could reach the 600 game mark in the last game before the Olympics Break on February 1st is he doesn’t miss any games. He would also be the 7th player to reach 600 games for the Lightning.
Brayden Point is entering his sixth season in the NHL and has played 351 games. He needs 49 games to reach 400 games that has him on the same schedule as Ondrej Palat for hitting his games played plateau. Point, like Palat, is likely headed to the Olympics, so it would be nice for him to get that mark before joining Team Canada.
There aren’t any players currently on the Lightning roster that are close to hitting a 100 milestone for goals. For most of the forwards, it would take 50 or more goals, and Steven Stamkos is one of only two players on the roster to hit that mark in a season (and would need 61 goals this season to reach 500 goals in his career). The other, is Corey Perry. Perry needs 14 goals to make it to 400 goals for his career. Perry hasn’t scored more than 9 goals since recording 17 in the 2017-18 season. Over the past three seasons, he has scored 20 goals in 137 games, which pro-rates over an 82 game season to 12 goals.
So for Perry, it might be difficult for him to make it to that 14 goal mark to get to 400. But it’s certainly not impossible. A lot is going to depend on how much ice time he gets up the line up throughout the season, but there’s no doubt he has the skill and the ability that if he finds himself really clicking with his linemates, as well as finding time on the second power play unit, to put enough pucks in the net, he could make it, especially if he goes on a hot streak.
Nikita Kucherov sits at 326 assists in his career. Now, this is one that would usually fail my “likelihood” test. But with Kucherov, there’s certainly the possibility that he can record 74 assists in one season. He had 87 in 2018-19 on his way to 128 points and the Art Ross trophy. He had 61 in 2017-18 and 52 in 68 games in 2019-20, which pro-rates to 62 over an 82 game season. It’ll take some work and some luck, but being paired on the top line with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat, the potential is certainly there for Kucherov to cross the 400 assists mark towards the end of the season.
Alex Killorn and Brayden Point will both be approaching 200 assists during the season. Killorn has the easiest road to 200 as he sits at 197 and just needs three to make it there. In theory, that should happen pretty early in the season. Point will need a little bit more time as he sits at 171 assists, needing 29 to get to 200. That should be a pretty easy mark for him to make as he has surpassed it three times in his career, as well as putting up 25 in 56 games last season.
This one is a little bit of a stretch, but is within the realm of possibilities. Anthony Cirelli currently sits at 67 assists, needing 33 to make it to 100. He’s never made it to 33 assists in a season, but recorded 28 in 68 games in 2019-20, which would equal 34 over an 82 game season. Cirelli played through an injury for much of last season which saw his offense take a drop. However, I expect a bounce back season from him and it’s within the realm of possibility for him to make it to the 100 assist mark by the end of the season.
Stamkos currently sits at 866 points for his career needing 34 to reach 900. That should be a pretty easy number for him to make it to around the mid-point of the season as he recorded 34 points in 38 games last year. There are currently 117 players that have made it to 900 points in their NHL careers. Claude Giroux, Joe Pavelski, and John Tavares are the only other active players that are in the mix to become the 118th. Giroux is close to Stamkos with 858 career points and could conceivably make it to 900 points before Stamkos. Pavelski likewise is not far behind with 843 points and is likely to make it to 900 by the end of the season, but would have to make up a lot of ground to hit 900 before Stamkos. Tavares is at 819 points and so would likely only make it to that point towards the end of the season.
Sitting at 547 career points, Kucherov is close to making the 600 point plateau, needing just 53 points to make it there. Unlike making it to 400 assists, 600 points should be easy for Kucherov to hit somewhere in the middle of the season. When Kucherov makes it to 600 points, it will make him the 15th Russian to do so and would see him move past Sergei Samsonov and Andrei Markov on the all-time Russian scoring list.
Victor Hedman is also not far off from 600 points, however, he would need to score 82 points to get from 518 points to 600. Hedman has never scored a point per game in his career, but has come close before. Hedman’s case is a “never say never” situation, but is a very unlikely one and is much more likely to happen next season.
Lightning new-comer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been in the league for seven seasons. He’s always been a bottom of the line up forward because of his strong defensive play and is not an offensive dynamo. However, he is just two points from hitting the 100 point mark. He is currently tied with Sebastien Bordeleau for the 2nd most points in the NHL by a French player at 98 points.