The NHL 2017-18 season is still very much in its infancy. Teams have played but three games. But already we’re talking about player’s potential this season. So in that vein, what are some of the craziest on pace stats for the league.
When Connor McDavid scored three goals for the Edmonton Oilers 2017-18 NHL season opener the memes were quick and crazy. Images of McDavid being touted as this prolific goal scorer that will reach heights, not even Wayne Gretzky could achieve in the highflying 80’s.
It was absolute lunacy. McDavid was on pace for 246 goals after his game one hat trick. Imagine if that happened in a big east coast market. Boy, would that be insufferable?
Oh, wait. It did. Just last season Auston Matthews scored four in his NHL debut and season opener for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Turning what was already a barely tolerable fan base into a bunch of meandering banshees.
It’s in that meandering banshee spirit that we look at a number of crazy on pace stats for the 2017-18 NHL season.
Alex Ovechkin: 191 Goals
Forget what McDavid was doing on opening night. The great 8 matched that with a hat-trick of his own on the Washington Capitals 2017-18 NHL season opener. But then just a few days later Ovie hit another four goals. Three in the first period alone. That took his tally to seven in two games and an on pace goal mark of 287.
A number that even if he actually scored he still wouldn’t pass Wayne Gretzky on the all-time goal scoring charts. He wouldn’t be far off, just 49 goals short. Think about that. Even with a goalscoring season for the ages, and another 12 season, six of which he scored 50 goals or more, Ovie still can’t catch the Great One.
Nail Yakupov: 82 Points
Remember, the 2012 NHL Draft? When the Edmonton Oilers drafted their third first overall pick in Nail Yakupov? The kid that was tearing up the OHL with the Sarnia Sting, putting up 170 points in just 107 games played. He came out in his first NHL with 31 points in 48 games. And it looked like the Oilers got yet another great NHL caliber players.
And then the wheels fell off the bus. After years of underperforming in Edmonton, he was finally sent to St Louis. Where things didn’t get any better. With nine points in 40 games.
But now in Colorado, where Yakupov has hit rock bottom in the NHL, he’s finally producing again. With the Avalanche, Yak already has three points (2G,1A) in his first three games. Putting him on pace for 82 points by the season’s end. Considering he’s only on the Avs books for $875,000 this season, Joe Sakic did well to take the risk.
Vegas Golden Knights: 82 Wins
The Vegas Golden Knights have begun life in the NHL unbeaten. Through their first three games of the 2017-18 NHL season, they have a record of 3-0-0 and already have six points up on the board. That’s roughly 13% of what the Colorado Avalanche picked up throughout the 2016-17 season.
Marc-Andre Fleury and James Neal are a big part of that. What with Flowers squeaky clean 1.32 GAA and 0.963 SV% and Neal’s five goals through the first three games. They can’t keep this up. No one goes undefeated. But is Vegas better than we thought. Could that seriously challenge for a playoff spot in year one?
If they somehow do the happiest man alive won’t be owner Bill Foley, but one Gary Bettman esq. commissioner of the NHL as the sound of insane amounts of money he’s going to make with more expansions ringing through his ears.
Evander Kane: 710 Shots
We all know that Alex Ovechkin generally leads the league in shots on goal. His bazillion shots on goal leave everyone else in the NHL in the dust. It’s like he’s playing that Wayne Gretzky message on repeat in his head: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
But this season we might have a new challenger. Buffalo Sabres Evander Kane has 26 shots through his team’s first three games. That puts him on pace for 710 shots on goal by April. In 2016-17 Burns and Ovie topped the league with 320 and 313 respectively.
Kane is on pace to more than double that amount. Hopefully, that can translate to goals as new head coach Phil Housley tries to get his team out of the Eastern Conference basement.
Ryan Reaves: 929 Penalty Minutes
In our first show of the season, all three of us tried to figure out who’s going to get the biggest suspension. My vote was Pittsburgh Penguins new boy Ryan Reaves getting eight games for whatever reason.
And with his 34 penalty minutes in three games, he’s certainly not afraid to run against the rule of law in the league. You don’t get a suspension for the number of penalties you take. But the thought here is that he’s not going to shy away from being physical and that my friends often leads to issues with the Department of Player Safety