After posting the era-adjusted leading scorers by season, I received an email asking about career scoring leaders and what happens to the numbers "especially the 70's and 80's" when you adjust them the same way. So I crunched some numbers
I didn't think much of it while I was doing the work, but as I started combing through the results, it became one of my favorite hockey-related projects I've ever done. You know you're way down the rabbit hole when you're looking at the career stats of the "Garbage Collector" and wondering how in the world a guy missing two fingers can appear from nowhere and disappear just as fast. Oh, and why didn't I know about the "Light Brigade Line"? Why don't we have guys named Duke Keats or Babe Dye or Elmer Lach anymore? And, man, Alex Mogilny was such a good player.
The table below shows the top 25 career era-adjusted scorers in NHL history sorted by era-adjusted points per game.
* - Denotes active player
The still active players have a chance to slide down the list as they age and their production decreases. Obviously Sidney Crosby isn't going to slide very far down the list, but his numbers should fall off. Seeing Lemieux, Crosby and Jagr drives home a point I often make about how ridiculous it is that the Penguins have essentially had the best player in the NHL on their roster for the last 25 years.
I was shocked to see Peter Forsberg that high up the list and even more shocked to see that defenseman in 5th place. Other eye-openers for me were Newsy Lalonde and Ziggy Palffy. Palffy came into the league just as the modern dead puck era began, and he didn't hang on at the end of his career as his production dwindled. Lalonde was 30 years old when the NHL began play in 1917 and only played for five seasons, plus a one-game appearance as a player-coach for the New York Americans five years after being sold to Saskatoon of the WCHL.
Author's Note: Developed by Jonathan Willis, these specific era-adjusted comparables are determined by adjusting each season as if there was an average of 6 goals scored per game while holding player production ratios constant.