A milestone of any kind is a big achievement. Hard work, work ethic, and longevity go a long way in pursuing a milestone. Being on a good team also helps, but talent also goes a long way. In the NHL, milestones are hard to come by as one would have to play many years to achieve such a goal. First goal, first point, or a first win are things that every kid hopes to achieve upon reaching the NHL.
Will these NHL milestones be reached in the 2023/2024 season?
When a player gets that first in the NHL, they set a personal goal to get 100, then 200, and so on and so forth. Entering the 2023/2024 NHL season, there are nine players with milestones within reach this season. They should be easy to reach but one cannot take out the risk of injury, trade, or reduced playing time. With that said, here are those nine players chasing milestones this season, along with what milestones are in reach, along with their first in the NHL.
Los Angeles Kings center, and captain, Anze Kopitar has been consistent throughout his NHL career. His work ethic and dedication to his crafted his Kings teams to two Stanley Cup in his career. While Kopitar is not getting any younger, his offensive production is not lacking. Kopitar enters this season seven goals short of 400 for his career. This should be obtainable rather easily in the first half of the season, especially if his wingers are still Adrian Kempe and Quinton Byfield. Kopitar scored his first NHL goal against the Anaheim Ducks on October 6, 2006.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews is a goal scoring machine as he scored no fewer than 34 goals in any season. His wrist shot is lethal and he can score from anywhere using this shot. His goal scoring was evident from his NHL debut on October 12, 2016 against the Ottawa Senators when he scored four goals. He has not let up since, filling the nets every chance he gets. Matthews is one goal away from 300 in his career and could get that goal on opening night thisa season.
Elite Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon is one of, if not the best, player in the entire NHL. He is consistently leading the Avalanche in points and in the top-10 in points every season, making him a constant threat on the ice. MacKinnon is 16 goals away from number 300 for his career and, given Colorado’s potent offense, should be obtainable at some point this season. MacKInnon scored his first NHL goal against Michael Neuvirth of the Washington Capitals on October 12, 2013.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is also going for a career milestone this season. He is two goals away from 200, given his shot, could be early this season when he reaches that milestone. It is hard to believe that he has not reached the 200 goal plateau yet given his blistering slap shot. Playing on the first line with center Johnny Gaudreau for a full season should help as Gaudreau is a gifted passer. Laine scored his first NHL goal on October 12, 2016.
Former New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kaneis one of the best American born players in the history of the NHL. After many seasons with the Blackhawks, Kane made his way to the Rangers on broadway. Kane is looking to make a statement this season, as he is looking to grab 14 more assists to reach 800 for his career. Also a consistent scorer, Kane should have no issues reaching that total as soon as he finds a team to play for as he is currently a UFA. Kane notched his first assist on October 6, 2007 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Toronto Maple Leafs center, and captain, John Tavares is an example of letting your skills on the ice do your talking for you. After many years of playing for the New York Islanders, Tavares made his way to Toronto and blended in perfectly. He had been consistent in his play and offensive production with New York and took that mindset to the Maple Leafs. Tavares is 25 points away from 1,000 in his career and could have that in the first half of the 2023/ 2024 NHL season. Tavares recorded his first goal and assists in his first game on October 3, 2009 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Iron man Phil Kessel is a coach’s dream as far as being available to play. He is always on the ice and shows no signs of slowing down. Kessel has had a successful career to this point with three Stanley Cup trophies in the past seven seasons. One milestone that Kessel is hoping to achieve is the 1,000 point plateau, to which he is eight points short. Like Kane, Kessel is a UFA and could be a real asset to any team, therefore getting those eight points sooner than later. Kessel got his first NHL point, a goal, on an assist from recently retired Boston Bruins legend, Patrice Bergeron, on October 12, 2006 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Longtime Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkinhas one big goal on his mind before he hangs up the skates. While Wayne Gretzky’s goal record is within reach, so is his 1,500 career points, which he is 15 points away. Ovechkin continues to produce offensively into his late 30’s and is not slowing down. This should be a very approachable milestone for the great Ovechkin. Ovechkin scored his first two NHL points, both goals, on October 5, 2005 against goaltender Pascal LeClaire and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
MInnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the best goaltenders in NHL history. Persistent, he is a goaltender that does not give up and always spreads positivity on the ice. With nothing more to prove after three Stanley cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury is only about personal achievements at this point of his career. His next milestone is that of 552 wins by an NHL goaltender and he is eight wins shy of that mark. Eight more wins would place him second all-time in wins, behind Martin Brodeur, who has 691 wins. Fleury’s first NHL win came against the Detroit Red Wings on October 19, 2003.