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Top 10 Most Efficient Playoff Scorers in NHL History

Scoring at a pace of 1.1 points per game or higher is a remarkable feat in today’s NHL, even in the regular season, as only five players are poised to finish at or above that point this season, three

Scoring at a pace of 1.1 points per game or higher is a remarkable feat in today’s NHL, even in the regular season, as only five players are poised to finish at or above that point this season, three of which (Stamkos, Tavares and Malkin) missed significant time due to injuries. Only Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf will have played at least 75 games and managed the feat, with Getzlaf currently sitting at a pace of 1.14 points per game and Crosby at 1.30. It is therefore astonishing that thirteen players who have played at least 20 career playoff games have managed the feat in the post-season as well.

Seven of the thirteen played many of their best playoff seasons in the 1980s and early 1990s, when scoring in the NHL was at its peak. There are also three current players and even one defenseman on the list. What unites them all, however, is their ability to produce significant offense when it mattered most, proving an ability to thrive under pressure

This list will only focus on the top ten, but for those who are curious, spots eleven through thirteen are taken by Peter Forsberg (171 points in 151 games), Peter Stastny (105 points in 93 career games) and Claude Giroux (55 points in 50 career games). Newsy Lalonde also achieved the feat, scoring 19 points in seven career NHL playoff games with the Montreal Canadiens from 1917-1919, but played fewer than 20 NHL playoff games, as most of his career was spent either in the NHA before the formation of the modern NHL in 1917 or in other professional hockey leagues across Canada.

10 Gilbert Perreault: 103 Points in 90 Games, 1.144 PPG

9 Jari Kurri: 233 Points in 200 Games, 1.165 PPG

8 Evgeni Malkin: 97 Points in 83 Games, 1.169 PPG

Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images

7 Mike Bossy: 160 Points in 129 Games, 1.24 PPG

6 Bobby Orr: 92 points in 74 games, 1.243 PPG

5 Mark Messier: 295 points in 236 games, 1.25 PPG

4 Sidney Crosby: 105 points in 82 games, 1.28 PPG

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images

3 Barry Pederson: 52 points in 34 games, 1.529 PPG

On this list, Barry Pederson would be the answer to the classic Sesame Street song "One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others)." Pederson was drafted 18th overall to the Boston Bruins in 1980 and scored 44 goals and 92 points, both still Bruins rookie records, in 1982, but lost the Calder to Dale Hawerchuk. That year in the playoffs, Pederson scored 18 points in 11 games, helping Boston defeat the Sabres in the first round, three games to one before falling to the Quebec Nordiques in a close seven-game series. The following year, he put up 46 goals and 107 points in the regular season and an MVP-caliber 32 points in 17 games. The Bruins gained their revenge by defeating the Nordiques in the first round 3-1, and defeated the Sabres for the second consecutive year to win the second round by four games to three, before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champions New York Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. He then set a new career high with 116 points in 1984, but recorded only one point in three playoff games, as the Canadiens swept the Bruins 3-0. That summer, Pederson was diagnosed with a benign tumour in his shoulder that was surgically removed and only played 22 games the next year before needing further surgery. The second surgery required part of his shoulder muscle to be removed, and afterwards he was never able to fully bounce back.

2 Mario Lemieux: 172 points in 107 games, 1.61 PPG

1 Wayne Gretzky: 382 points in 208 games, 1.837 PPG

To the surprise of few, highest career points-per-game average in the post-season is one of Wayne Gretzky’s many records. Gretzky scored at least 34 points in six different post-seasons, a total only 510 players have reached for their entire playoff careers. Gretzky set the single post-season assist record in 1988 with 31, but enjoyed his best post-season in 1985. After scoring 38 points in 1983 and 35 in 1984, Gretzky scored an almost inconceivable 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points in just 18 games, or 2.61 points per game in 1985. The 47 points is an NHL single-season playoff record and his 120 points in those three post-seasons alone would have put him amongst the top 50 playoff scorers of all-time. He also scored 40 points in 24 playoff games with the Kings in their 1993 playoff run. Even in 1997, at the age of 36, Gretzky was still able to score 20 points in 15 playoff games with the New York Rangers in his final playoff run. Along with having the highest post-season points per game total, his 382 career playoff points also leave him far ahead of Messier’s second-place 295 career playoff points. Winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1985 and 1988, Gretzky truly proved himself as “The Great One” in the playoffs, making him the greatest and most efficient playoff scorer of all-time.

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Top 10 Most Efficient Playoff Scorers in NHL History