Monday, March 22, 2010

600 goals, who's next?

Teemu Selanne just became the 18th player to score 600 career NHL goals. Of these 18 guys, Selanne has scored a goal at the rate of 0.51 per game which is the seventh best among six hundred goal men. The question is, how many if any 600 goal scorers will there be in the future. Is Selanne the last member of this exclusive club?

Mark Recchi is currently at 560 goals, Mike Modano is at 556 and Keith Tkachuk sits at 536. Can any one of them find the 600 goal level? Recchi is 42 years old, Modano is 39 and Tkachuk is a week away from 38. Logic would dictate that it will be tough for any of them to hang around long enough, especially at their current goal scoring rates. Luckily there is a way to make an educated guess.

When I was a kid I loved reading the baseball analysis books of Bill James who was an innovator in statistical analysis and is currently employed by the Boston Red Sox. He developed a fomula to project career stats that he called "The Favourite Toy". Using a player's age, current stat total in any category and established level over the last three seasons, he was able to project a career total and a percentage chance to achieve a stated level. The tool for this formula is found on at

I very slightly modified this so it works for career goals in hockey. Following is the current players that have any chance whatsoever to reach 600 goals.

Not many surprises. Ovechkin projected to finish with 712 career goals, and the three oldsters Recchi, Modano and Tkachuk look like they will fall just short of 600. Among active players, four look like a good bet to crack the 500 goal mark; Ovechkin, Iginla, Gaborik and Heatley. Crosby, Nash, Lecavalier, Hossa project to come within 10 goals of 500, but fall just short. It would seem that it's a pretty good bet that Selanne will not be the last 600 goal scorer, but there wont be many more to join him.

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