Given that the Toronto Maple Leafs were an Original 6 hockey team and have been around a long time, it’s a bit surprising that only eight NHL scorers in total have both played for the Maple Leafs AND have also scored 500 goals during their NHL careers. In fact, some of those players spent only a very short time with the Maple Leafs.
To begin, the Toronto team has not always been called the Maple Leafs. The “Maple Leafs” joined the NHL and played its first season in 1917 with the name the Toronto Arenas. Beginning in 1919-20, the Toronto team was called the St. Patricks; and, finally the franchise switched its name permanently to the Maple Leafs in 1927.
In this post, I’m going to go back through history and try to share information about all the players who both (a) scored 500 NHL goals and (b) played at least some of their NHL career in Toronto with the blue and white. Here’s my list. If I’ve missed a Maple Leafs player, give me a shout.
The Criteria for this List
One note about compiling this list of great NHL/Maple Leafs’ players, was that any NHL player who made the list had to have scored 500 NHL goals. That was easy enough to count. However, the second criterion, that a player could play any number of games with the Maple Leafs’ franchise, was a bit more difficult to make the franchise’s list.
As you read through this list of great NHL players, you’ll note that some of these players played most of their careers in Toronto. However, a few only played a few seasons with the Maple Leafs and most of their careers somewhere else. I’ve counted any player who’ve scored 500 goals in this list, whether they played 5 games or 500 games with the team.
Player #1: Mike Gartner
Mike Gartner is one of only six NHL players ever to score more than 700 goals – with 708. He’s also the only player ever to score 30 or more goals in a season with five different NHL teams. In fact, he holds the NHL record with 17 seasons with 30-goals.
However, despite his personal success, Gartner never achieved team success. He never played on a team that won the Stanley Cup, and he never even played in a Stanley Cup Final. He never won a major NHL award; he never won a scoring title; and, he was never named to the postseason All-Star Team.
But Gartner was a consistent scorer and is now a member of the Hall of Fame. He spent three seasons from 1993 to 1996 with the Maple Leafs and scored 53 goals in total with the Blue and White. He scored his 500th goal on October 14, 1991.
Player #2: Dave Andreychuk
Like Gartner, Dave Andreychuk wasn’t a superstar and, in fact, only made two All-Star Games. But the 6-foot-4, 220-pound power forward played a long time, stayed in good shape, and kept scoring goals from the beginning to the ending of his career.
Like Gartner, Andreychuk was a member of the Maple Leafs from 1992 to 1996; and, during his four seasons with the team, he scored 120 goals. He’s one of the few Maple Leafs players in NHL history to score 50 goals during a single season (he scored 53 goals and 99 points during the 1993-94 season).
Andreychuk scored 20 goals each of his last five NHL seasons; and, he scored more than 20 goals during the season after he turned 40 years old. He ended his career with 640 NHL goals. Andreychuk holds the record for most power-play goals ever with 274.
After playing 1,759 regular season and playoff games, Andreychuk finally won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. At that time he was the oldest player ever to win a Stanley Cup at just under 41 years of age. Since then Chris Chelios won a Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. He was 46 years old at the time. Andreychuk scored his 500th goal on March 15, 1997.
Player #3: Joe Nieuwendyk
Not only did Joe Nieuwendyk scoring 500 NHL goals, but he also belongs to a really exclusive club in that he is one of only five players to score more than 50 goals during his 1987-88 rookie season. Nieuwendyk won a Calder Trophy with the Calgary Flames and a Conn Smythe Trophy with the Dallas Stars, and he played for five teams in total.
He spent only the 2003-04 season with the Maple Leafs and scored 22 goals that season. Oddly, he moved around lots during the last few seasons of his NHL career. It was with the New Jersey Devils on January 17, 2003, that he scored his 500th NHL goal.
Nieuwendyk finished his NHL career with 564 goals. During his rookie season, of the 51 goals he scored, 31 were power-play goals (60.8%). His teams were consistent winners and, in total, he won three Stanley Cups with three different teams in three different decades.
Player #4: Mats Sundin
Mats Sundin was the long-time Maple Leafs captain of the Maple Leafs. He’s tied with Joe Nieuwendyk with 564 career goals and is the highest-scoring Swedish player in NHL history. He’s also the player who scored the most goals in Maple Leafs’ history with 420 (compared to Nieuwendyk who had only 22 with the team).
Sundin scored his dramatic 500th goal on October, 14, 2006. That goal was a short-handed goal, scored in overtime, to complete a hat trick. Sadly, he played at a time with the Maple Leafs were not a strong team and is one of only four players in the 500-goal club to never have played in the Stanley Cup finals.
Player #5: Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau scored his 500th goal on February 2, 2017. He’s the only active player to have scored more than 500 goals (with 562 goals, and counting). Of those goals, 518 were scored with the San Jose Sharks. Marleau played only two seasons with the Maple Leafs and scored 43 goals during that time.
Marleau is the all-time Sharks’ leader in goals, points, and games played. Prior to coming to Toronto, he played his entire season in San Jose.
Player #6: Ron Francis
I wonder how many Maple Leafs fans actually recall that Ron Francis either made the 500-goal list or actually played with the Maple Leafs. Francis only time with the Maple Leafs were his last NHL games in 2003-04, where he scored three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 12 games.
Francis is one of the NHL’s most underrated players and ranks fifth in NHL career points. He didn’t win individual awards, other a Selke for his defense and three Lady Byngs. He scored 549 goals before his NHL career was over. His 500th NHL goal was scored on January 2, 2002.
Francis was valuable almost everywhere he played. His 1,731 games are the third-most in NHL history. Francis is only one of a few members of the 500-goal club who never had a 50-goal season. In fact, Francis never had a 40-goal season. In fact, his highest goal total for any season was just 32 goals during 1989-90. But he was consistent and durable, which led to his long and successful career.
Player #7: Frank Mahovlich
Frank Mahovlich played 18 NHL seasons, and his first 12 seasons were with the Maple Leafs. He scored 533 goals during that career, and 296 were scored with the Maple Leafs. He played four more seasons (until he was 40) in the WHA and scored 89 goals with the Toronto Toros and the Birmingham Bulls.
Interestingly, although Mahovlich never scored 50 goals during any season, he was the first player to score 40 goals during a season with three different teams. Mahovlich scored 533 goals in his NHL career, but he could have had 622. After spending 18 seasons in the NHL, he played four WHA seasons and scored 89 more goals. The “Big M,” as was Mahovlich’s nickname, was the third NHL great to reach 500-goals. He did it playing with the Montreal Canadiens on March 21, 1973.
Player #8: Lanny McDonald
Like Frank Mahovlich, Lanny McDonald started his career with the Maple Leafs. During his first seven seasons in Toronto, he scored 219 goals. Sadly, McDonald was traded in 1979 to the Colorado Rockies in a move by owner Harold Ballard to hurt McDonald’s best friend Darryl Sittler.
In one great season (1982-83), McDonald scored 66 goals, second only to the Edmonton Oilers’ Wayne Gretzky. Interestingly, McDonald didn’t hit 100 points that season. On April 17, 1977, he was the first NHL player to ever score four goals in a playoff game loss when the Maple Leafs lost to the Philadelphia Flyers by a 6-5 score. His sweater number nine was the first ever to be retired by the Flames.
McDonald enjoyed great success with the Flames, and during his final season in 1988-89, he hit two milestones – one of the 11 goals he scored on March 21, 1989, pushed his total to 500. He also won his first Stanley Cup with the Flames, and then immediately retired at 500 goals.
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