In all of North America's professional sports there has perhaps never been an athlete that showcased more statistical dominance during his professional career than hockey's Wayne Gretzky. After all he's not known at "The Great One" for nothing.
Gretzky holds a massive number of the National Hockey League's records, including a number of all-time records and single season records, many of which are considered records that will never be broken, no matter how far into the future the game advances. It's for that reason that when a player manages to pass Gretzky in the record books that it becomes a truly noteworthy event.
On Monday night we got exactly that when none other than 19-year-old Winnipeg Jets star forward Patrick Laine, managed to surpass The Great One in at least one statistical category, the most goals scored as a teenager in the NHL. On Gretzky's career he managed to find the make of the net 76 times prior to turning 20 years of age, good enough for third all time until now.
On Monday night Laine recorded his 41st goal of the season during a 3 - 2 overtime loss against the Washington Capitals and while it was a disappointing night for the Jets organization, it was a huge evening for the young Laine. That goal was good enough for 77 career NHL goals as a teenager, bumping Gretzky down to fourth place on the all-time list and allowing Laine to claim sole possession of third place.
What makes this particularly interesting is the fact that Laine still has several games left to play in this current NHL season, something that means he could potentially go on to eclipse Gretzky's mark if he continues to find the back of the net. In fact Laine is on such a hot streak that there is a legitimate chance he could move up and claim the #2 spot on the list.
Currently sitting at that #2 spot is a former Winnipeg Jets player, although admittedly that franchise is now technically the Arizona Coyotes, former Jets center Dale Hawerchuk. Hawerchuk managed to score 85 as a teenager so catching him won't be easy, but it's also not outside the realm of possibility given the scoring touch that Laine has shown in his first two seasons.
At the very top of the list is former Los Angeles Kings center Jimmy Carson who had a total of 92 goals as a teenager. That mark while almost certainly out of reach for Laine, could have been a possible target had Laine not suffered a significant injury last season. Laine would need to score over a goal per game in order to reach that mark so we don't see him making it.
That being said Laine is going to have plenty of motivation to continue scoring this season as he has a legitimate chance at claiming the Rocket Richard trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer. Laine came into Monday night's game tied with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals. However Ovechkin managed to score 2 goals during his win over the Jets, while Laine himself only managed to nab one before his team lost in overtime.
For a 19-year-old this kid is awfully impressive.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press