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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Junior scoring records don't guarantee NHL success

A disclaimer before you read this post: yes, some players who hold junior scoring records did not go onto success in the NHL. However, they have still achieved a level of success that the vast majority of us reading never achieved in hockey. This post is not meant to belittle the accomplishments of these men, but rather to point out how truly difficult it is to translate success at the junior level of hockey into the NHL.


With that out of the way, let's look at the players who hold the single-season scoring records for goals, assists and points in the three major Canadian junior leagues (WHL, OHL and QMJHL) and the NCAA:


WHL

  • Goals - 108 - Ray Ferraro, 1983-84 with Brandon Wheat Kings

  • Assists - 136 - Rob Brown 1986-87 with Kamloops Blazers

  • Points- 212 - Rob Brown 1986-87 with Kamloops Blazers

Ferraro is featured in this week's post and scored over 400 goals in his NHL career. Brown scored 49 goals with Pittsburgh as a sophomore, and won league MVP in the IHL in 1994. His exploits are featured in a previous post.


OHL

  • Goals - 87 - Ernie Godden, 1980-81 with Windsor Spitfires.

  • Assists - 110 - John Goodwin, 1980-81 with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

  • Points - 177 - Doug Gilmour 1982-83 with Cornwall Royals.

Godden played five games with the Maple Leafs the year after setting the record, and was out of hockey by the mid-1980s. Goodwin played in the AHL from 1981-87 and never made it to the NHL. Gilmour played 20 seasons in the NHL and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.


QMJHL

  • Goals - 133 - Mario Lemieux, 1983-84 with Laval Voisins.

  • Assists - 157 - Pierre Larouche, 1973-74 with Sorel Black Hawks.

  • Points - 282 - Mario Lemieux, 1983-84 with Laval Voisins.

Lemieux is Lemieux, no need to expand on that. Larouche played 15 NHL seasons, was a two-time 50 goal scorer and averaged over a point-per-game in his career (over 800 games).


NCAA

  • Goals - 59 - Mike Donnelly, 1985-86 with Michigan State Spartans.

  • Assists - 76 - Wayne Gagne, 1986-87 with Western Michigan Broncos.

  • Points - 116 - Tony Hrkac, 1986-87 with North Dakota Fighting Sioux.

Donnelly played 10 NHL seasons, recording back-to-back 29 goal seasons with the Kings in the early 1990s. Gagne played in the minors from 1987-93, including a season in the Netherlands. Hrkac played for nine NHL teams over 12 seasons, winning a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.


Card 309 - Ron Sutter
















A centre, Sutter was drafted fourth overall by Philadelphia in 1982, making him the Sutter brother with the highest draft selection. At the time of his drafting, Ron had played three seasons with Lethbridge in the WHL, returning for a fourth season in 1982-83, while also playing in 10 games for the Flyers that season.


In Sutter’s true rookie season of 1983-84 he played 79 games, scoring 19 goals and 51 points. Over the next seven seasons in Philadelphia he developed into a premier defensive forward, earning Selke Trophy votes five times, finishing second in the 1985-86 to Troy Murray. Sutter also scored a career-high 60 points that season. With the Flyers he made two Cup Finals appearances, losing in both 1985 and 1987 to the Edmonton Oilers.


In September 1991 he was traded to St. Louis in a four-player deal that landed Philadelphia Rod Brind’Amour. Ron would unite with his twin brother Rich on the Blues for three seasons before being dealt to Quebec early in 1994 in a five-player trade. He played only 37 games with the Nordiques before being sent to the New York Islanders, a team his brothers Brent and Duane had played for earlier in their careers. The trade to New York saw the two teams swap draft picks so the Islanders could move up to select Brett Lindros; the Nords landed Uwe Krupp and drafted Wade Belak (1990s drafts were really weird).


Sutter played 27 games with the Islanders, then signed with Boston for the 1995-96 season. He played in only 18 games with the Bruins, spending time in the AHL that season. Sutter revamped his career in 1996-97, signing with San Jose, then coached by brother Darryl. Ron played 78 games his first season with the Sharks, his most in a single season since 1990-91. He spent two more seasons with the Sharks and one final season with Calgary in 2000-01 before retiring.


In 19 NHL seasons Ron Sutter played in 1093 games, scoring 205 goals and 535 points. He was captain of the Flyers from 1989-91 and was an assistant captain during his time in St. Louis. Since retirement he has worked for Calgary, first as a pro scout, then as director of player development from 2010 to 2019 and currently in his role as a development coach.


YouTube clip: mixing it up with Steve Yzerman during a January 1993 Wings/Blues game.


Card 310 - Mike Tomlak

















A forward, Tomlak was drafted 208th overall by Toronto in 1983. He took a long route to the NHL, playing two more seasons with Cornwall in the OHL and then four seasons with the University of Western Ontario. In his time at Western, Tomlak was a two-time CIAU all-star and was the Mustangs all-time leading scorer upon the end of his university career.


In November 1988 Tomlak signed as a free agent with Hartford, turning pro for the 1989-90 season with the Whalers at the age of 25. He played 70 games that season, scoring seven goals and 21 points, which all turned out to be career-highs. Tomlak played one more full season with Hartford, then appeared in six games combined in the 1991-92 and 1993-94 season. From 1990 to 1994 he played in the AHL with Springfield, scoring 44 goals and 100 points in the 1993-94 season.


From 1994 to 1998 Tomlak played with Milwaukee in IHL, winning both the John Cullen Sportsmanship Award, and the Ironman Award (given to the player who played in all of his team’s games and showed high skill) in 1998. He played his final pro season in 1998-99 in Slovenia.


In four NHL seasons Tomlak played in 141 games, scoring 15 goals and 37 points. He represented Canada twice at the Spengler Cup, including a tournament victory in 1988.


YouTube clip: drawing an assist on Whalers teammate Ray Ferraro’s goal during a January 1990 game versus Boston, providing a perfect segue to our next player…


Card 311 - Ray Ferraro


















A centre, Ferraro was drafted 88th overall by Hartford in the 1982 draft. He played two seasons with Brandon in the WHL following the draft, setting a single-season league record for goals with 108 during the 1983-84 season. Ferraro also recorded 192 points that season, and not surprisingly was named the WHL Player of the Year.


He turned pro following his record-setting season, splitting the season between Binghamton in the AHL and Hartford, scoring 11 goals and 28 points in 44 games in the NHL. Over the next five seasons in Hartford, Ferraro scored 20+ goals each season and 70+ points twice. In 1986-87 he led the league with a 28.1% shooting percentage, and scored a career-high 41 goals in 1988-89.


In November 1990 he was traded to the New York Islanders for defenceman Doug Crossman. In his second season with the Isles Ferraro scored 40 goals and a career-high 80 points. He was a key contributor to the Islanders team that upset the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division Finals in 1993. The Islanders went on to make the Prince of Wales Conference Finals, with Ferraro leading the team in playoff scoring at 13 goals and 20 points in 18 games, finishing second to Wayne Gretzky in playoff goal scoring.


Ferraro’s numbers began to dwindle through the mid-1990s, still scoring 20+ goals in two of three seasons. For the 1995-96 season he signed with the rival New York Rangers, but lasted less than one season before a seven-player trade to Los Angeles that saw the Rangers acquire Jari Kurri and Marty McSorley.


Ferraro scored 25 goals in his first season in Los Angeles, but missed a significant number of games due to injury over the next two seasons. In 1999-00 he signed with the expansion Atlanta Thrashers, which led to a career revival, culminating with 29 goals and 76 points in 2000-01 to lead the team in scoring and being named team captain for the 2001-02 season. At the 2002 trade deadline Ferraro was traded to St. Louis for a draft pick. He scored six goals and 10 points in 15 regular season games, however the Blues were eliminated in the Western Conference Semi-Finals by Detroit and Ferraro retired at season’s end.


In 18 NHL seasons Ferraro played in 1258 games, scoring 408 goals and 898 points. He ranks 18th all-time in career shooting percentage at 18.9%. Since retiring Ferraro has developed into one of the premier colour commentators for the NHL, currently working for TSN but with previous stints at NBC, ESPN and Sportsnet. He also lends his voice to the EA Sports NHL video game series.


YouTube clip: Ferraro’s back-to-back overtime winners in Games 3 and 4 of the 1993 Patrick Division Semi-Finals against Washington.


Card 312 - Dave Hannan


















A centre, Hannan was drafted from Brantford in the OMJHL, 196th overall by Pittsburgh in the 1981 draft. He turned pro later that year, scoring 70 points in 76 games with Erie of the AHL. 1982-83 was his rookie season with the Penguins, scoring 11 goals and 33 points. From 1983 to 1985 Hannan would play primarily in the AHL, appearing in 54 games for the Penguins.


He returned to the NHL for good in 1985-86, scoring a career-high 17 goals and 35 points. Early the following season he was sent to Edmonton with Craig Simpson as part of the package that landed Pittsburgh Paul Coffey. Hannan would play in 12 games during the 1988 playoffs with Edmonton, good enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup for the first time.


In October 1988 he returned to the Penguins via the waiver draft, and a season later was claimed by Toronto in the waiver draft. Hannan played parts of three seasons with the Leafs before being traded to Buffalo in March 1992 for a draft pick. During this season Hannan played for the Canadian National Team, winning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville. He scored eight points in eight games, finishing behind Joe Juneau and Eric Lindros in team scoring.


In five seasons with the Sabres, Hannan’s most memorable moment came in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against New Jersey. Locked in a scoreless tie in the fourth overtime, Hannan’s backhander past Martin Brodeur ended what was at the time the sixth longest game in NHL history and is still the second longest 1-0 game.

At the 1996 trade deadline Hannan was sent to Colorado. He played in four regular season and 13 playoff games, enough to win his second Stanley Cup, eight years after his first. Hannan played one final regular season with Ottawa in 1996-97 before retiring.


In 16 NHL seasons, Hannan played in 841 games, scoring 114 goals and 305 points. In retirement he went back to school to complete a Bachelor of Science and now works in the IT industry.


YouTube clip: you had to know it would be the quadruple OT winner.


Card 313 - Randy McKay

















A right winger, McKay was drafted 113th overall by Detroit in 1985, having played one season of college hockey with Michigan Tech. He would play another three seasons with the Huskies before turning pro in 1987-88 with Adirondack of the AHL. McKay spent another two seasons primarily in the AHL, winning a Calder Cup in 1989 while appearing in 36 games with the Red Wings.


The 1990-91 season saw McKay earn a roster spot with Detroit, playing 47 games and scoring one goal and 8 points to go along 183 penalty minutes. A trade to New Jersey in September 1991 as compensation for the Wings’ signing of Troy Crowder was the break McKay needed for his NHL career.


In his first season as a Devil he scored 17 goals and 33 points to go with 246 penalty minutes. McKay became an integral part of the Devils’ forward core, joining Bobby Holik and Mike Peluso to form the Crash Line. During this time he would score 20+ points in four seasons, and record 200+ penalty minutes twice. McKay won his first Stanley Cup in 1995, finishing second on the team in playoff goals scored with eight.


In 1997-98 he took his offense to another level, scoring 24 goals and 48 points, both career-highs. McKay would score 16+ goals each of the next three seasons, scoring four in a single game against Pittsburgh in 2000. In 2000 he won his second Cup with the Devils and went to his third Finals in 2001.


At the 2002 trade deadline McKay was sent to Dallas with Jason Arnott for Jamie Langenbrunner, Joe Nieuwendyk and a first round pick. He finished the season with Dallas, then signed with his hometown Montreal Canadiens for the 2002-03 season, retiring after one season with the Habs.


In 15 NHL seasons McKay played in 932 games, scoring 162 goals and 363 points while recording 1731 penalty minutes. From 2007-2012 he was the team manager for his alma mater, Michigan Tech.


YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner in Game 4 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against Boston.


Card 314 - Rod Langway

















A defenceman, Langway was drafted 36th overall by Montreal in 1977. Langway’s path to hockey was not the typical one; the son of an American serviceman, he was born in Formosa (now Taiwan) and did not start playing hockey until the age of 13 when he had moved back to the United States. Langway played two seasons at the University of New Hampshire, and turned pro in 1977-78 with the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA.


After one season with the Baby Bulls, Langway joined the Habs for 45 regular season games, scoring seven points. He appeared in eight playoff games in 1979, enough to earn his first Cup. In his third season in Montreal, Langway scored career-highs in goals (11) and points (45), finishing fifth in Norris Trophy voting. The following season he scored 39 points and earned a +66 rating, good for fifth in the league.


September 1982 saw Langway traded to Washington with three other players in exchange for Rick Green and Ryan Walter. He was named team captain right away and quickly developed into the best defensive defenceman in the NHL. In his first three seasons with the Capitals (1982-85) Langway was a finalist for the Norris Trophy all three seasons, winning twice, and was three times selected for the post-season all-star team (two first-teams and one second-team). Perhaps most impressive was finishing top four in Hart Trophy voting each season, finishing runner up to Wayne Gretzky in 1984.


The offensive statistics Langway put up in his early days with the Habs were long gone during the latter part of his career in Washington. From 1986 to 1993 he played in 487 games, scoring only nine goals during, including three entire seasons without scoring a goal (1989-90, 1991-92, 1992-93).


Langway retired from the NHL after 23 games during the 1992-93 season. He returned in 1994-95, playing six games as a player-coach with Richmond in the ECHL. The following season he was player-coach with San Francisco in the IHL and played in 10 games in 1997-98 with Providence of the AHL while also having coaching duties. Langway retired for good after that season, coaching with Richmond in the ECHL from 1998-2000 and Richmond in the UHL in 2003-04.


In 15 NHL seasons, Langway played in 994 games, scoring 51 goals and 329 points. He played in six straight all-star games (1981 to 1986), was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.


YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the 1990 Patrick Division Finals 1990 playoffs. This was the only goal that Langway scored this season.

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