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Nash, Crosby among candidates to reach 500 goals

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became the 43rd NHL player with 500 goals when he scored in the second period Sunday against the Ottawa Senators.

Later this season, Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa could become the 44th player; he scored two goals Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche to give him 493. San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who has 470 goals, likely will get there next season.

After them, who could be next? Vincent Lecavalier of the Los Angeles Kings (411) and Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils (409) are next on the active player list, but Lecavalier is 35 and has said this will be his final season, and Elias is 39 and has played 13 games this season -- none since Dec. 19 -- because of a knee injury.

As goal totals have slipped the past few seasons, it could be a while before we see another player reach 500 goals.

NHL.com examines who could be next to 500 and just how long it might take them to get there:

Rick Nash, New York Rangers

Goal stats: 390 goals in 901 games

Age: 31

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.43 goals per game, it would take him another 256 games, which would be the 2018-19 season.

Nash has scored at least 40 goals three times, most recently last season when he had 42, but it's his only season with more than 26 goals in three full seasons with the Rangers and he's on pace for 24 this season. He scored at least 30 goals in seven of his first nine NHL seasons.

Can he do it? Nash's recent goal scoring hasn't matched the pace he set during his first few seasons, and as he ages it's likely that pace will dip further. Three more seasons will put him at age 34; it's possible he's the next player after Marleau to get to 500.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Goal stats: 314 goals in 667 games

Age: 28

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.47 goals per game, it would take him another 396 games, which would be the 2020-21 season.

Crosby always has been seen as more of a playmaker, but he's scored at least 30 goals six times, topped by 51 goals in 2009-10. He has 12 goals in 40 games this season but six have come in the past eight games as the Penguins get used to playing for new coach Mike Sullivan.

Can he do it? Crosby's age certainly works in his favor, and after losing most of three seasons because of injury and a lockout, he's been mostly healthy the past three seasons. Crosby remains one of the most gifted players of his generation and in the five seasons he'll likely need to get to 500 goals, he'll be 33. That's a bit past prime age for elite-level scorers but it's hard to see Crosby, health permitting, not getting to 500 and beyond.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

Goal stats: 294 goals in 534 games

Age: 25

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.55 goals per game, it would take him another 375 games, which would be the 2019-20 season.

After Ovechkin, the 25-year-old Lightning captain could be the best goal scorer in the League. He's two goals shy of his eighth straight 20-goal season in what's considered by some to be a "down" season for him. He's scored at least 40 four times and is one of 20 players ever to score 60, which he did in 2011-12.

Can he do it?: Stamkos has another 3-5 seasons as a peak offensive talent, assuming he stays healthy. And besides the broken leg he sustained during the 2013-14 season, when he still scored 25 goals in 37 games, he's remained healthy. It's likely a matter of when, not if, Stamkos reaches 500 goals and how far beyond it he goes.

Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild

Goal stats: 290 goals in 724 games

Age: 31

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.40 goals per game, it would take him another 527 games, which would be the 2021-22 season.

Parise is seventh among all players in goals since the 2005-06 season and he's on pace for his seventh 30-goal season. He's the No. 1 offensive option for the Wild and likely will remain that way for the next few seasons.

Can he do it? Will he remain a worthy No. 1 option for six more seasons? Outside of a knee injury that limited him to 13 games in 2010-11 Parise has been healthy. If he can stay that way until he's 37, he'll get to 500 goals.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

Goal stats: 312 goals in 763 games

Age: 30

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.41 goals per game, it would him another 458 games, which would be the 2020-21 season.

Perry has been among the League's top goal-scorers the past five seasons; his 194 goals since 2010-11 are third behind Ovechkin (232) and Stamkos (220). He's also stayed mostly healthy during his 11 seasons while playing a hard, physical game.

Can he do it? Power forwards, especially ones who play with a physical edge as Perry does, generally don't remain productive as they age. Perry's pace puts him at age 35 when he gets to 500. Can he remain an elite-level scorer at that age? It's possible he gets to 500 goals but he might have to adjust the way he approaches the game.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Goal stats: 287 goals in 628 games

Age: 29

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.45 goals per game, it would take him another 473 games, which would be the 2021-22 season.

Like Crosby, Malkin is viewed as more of a playmaker than a scorer. He still has four 30-goal seasons, and with 19 goals in 41 games this season he's on pace for 38. That would be the most he's scored in a season since his NHL-best of 50 in 2011-12.

Can he do it? Malkin has a 13.0 career shooting percentage but fewer than 215 shots in four of the past five seasons. The exception was 2011-12 when he had 50 goals on 339 shots. He's on pace for 232 shots this season. If Malkin keeps shooting he's proven he can score goals, and he should be able to get to 500 goals.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Goal stats: 230 goals in 620 games

Age: 27

Pace to 500: At his career average of 0.37 goals per game, it would take him another 730 games, which would be the 2024-25 season.

Kane has been a consistent 20-goal scorer in his first eight seasons. But he's taken his game to a new level this season; he has 25 goals in 44 games and is on pace for 46. Is this the start of Kane emerging into a top goal scorer?

Can he do it? Kane has become a star in the League based on his elite vision and playmaking skills. But he's scored 30 goals once and 29 goals in 2013-14. If he can go from consistent 20-goal scorer to the 30-goal range, Kane could make a run at 500 when he's 36 years old.

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