The NHL's 100 Greatest Single-Season Performances: Nos. 100-81

theScore

Throughout the month of September, James Bisson and a cast of editors from theScore will share their rankings of the greatest players, teams, and moments in the 100-year history of the National Hockey League. This week's list focuses on the best individual seasons (* denotes a statistic led the league).

100-81 | 80-61 | 60-41 | 40-21 | 20-1

Voter List

100. Mark Messier, Edmonton Oilers (1989-90)

GP G A P +/-
79 45 84 129 19

It was a sensational year for the Hall of Fame forward, who added nine goals and 22 assists in 22 playoff games to propel the Oilers to their fifth Stanley Cup championship - and their first after trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. Messier was awarded the Hart Trophy for his efforts; he would win a second with the New York Rangers four years later.

99. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils (1996-97)

W L T GAA SV% SO
37 14 13 1.88* .927 10*

Two voters considered Brodeur's 1996-97 season one of the 60 greatest of all time - and the other six experts left it out altogether. Brodeur was a monster that season, winning the Jennings Trophy, finishing second in Vezina Trophy voting, and coming fourth in the Hart race; he'd finish in the exact same positions the following season.

98. Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings (1951-52)

GP G A P +/-
70* 47* 39 86* --

Coming off his first career Art Ross Trophy, the 23-year-old Howe (No. 9 shown above) rolled to his second straight NHL scoring title while adding his first Hart Trophy. He had two goals and five assists in seven playoff games, helping lead the Red Wings to their second Stanley Cup title in three years; in un-Gordie-like fashion, he had just two penalty minutes in that postseason.

97. Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings (1993-94)

GP G A P +/-
81 38 92* 130* -25

This marks the first mention of a guy you'll be reading about a lot in this series. Gretzky's 11th and final scoring title wasn't exactly full of roses and rainbows; his plus-minus was the worst of his incredible career, and he missed the playoffs for the first time. But you would be hard-pressed to find a player today who wouldn't "settle" for a season like this.

96. Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens (1977-78)

W L T GAA SV% SO
37 7 7 2.05* -- 5

It was a ho-hum season by Dryden's lofty standards, but it was still good enough to earn him his fourth of five career Vezina Trophies. Incredibly, the 1977-78 season marked the fifth time Dryden played a full complement of games and finished with single-digit defeats; he had just 10 losses in his other two full seasons.

95. Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers (2005-06)

GP G A P +/-
82 54 69 123 34

The 2005-06 season saw a number of virtuoso performances, but perhaps none were more surprising than Jagr's. After three consecutive good-but-not-great campaigns, the 33-year-old rolled to second place in the scoring race with his first 50-goal season since 2000-01. The sensational showing earned him the Pearson Award and a runner-up finish in the Hart race.

94. Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres (1996-97)

W L T GAA SV% SO
37 20 10 2.27 .930* 5

No superlative is too over-the-top when describing Hasek, who had a season to remember 20 years ago as he posted one of the best save percentages in the modern era. It was by no means his best season, but his performance - combined with no real standout offensive showing - led to his first of two straight Harts. This ranking is probably too low.

93. Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks (1973-74)

W L T GAA SV% SO
34 14 21* 2.04 -- 10

Esposito's fifth full NHL season didn't resonate with the majority of voters, but it's hard to ignore how effective he was; he lost just 14 games despite making a career-best 70 appearances, en route to his third and final Vezina Trophy. Esposito wouldn't reach those lofty heights again for six years, when he would finish third in Hart voting as a 36-year-old.

92. Steve Shutt, Montreal Canadiens (1976-77)

GP G A P +/-
80* 60* 45 105 88

Shutt enjoyed a quietly productive career, and the 1976-77 season was the highlight. His 60 goals marked the only time he scored 50-plus in a season, and he also led the NHL in even-strength tallies (52) and game-winning goals (nine). Shutt was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team, but was shut out of Hart voting that season.

91. Denis Savard, Chicago Blackhawks (1987-88)

GP G A P +/-
80* 44 87 131 4

This was the piece de resistance of Savard's impressive 18-year NHL career; the slick-skating native of Pointe Gatineau, Quebec finished fifth in Hart voting while trailing only Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky in league scoring. It was the last of five 100-point seasons for Savard, who finished with 1,338 points en route to a Hall of Fame nod in 2000.

90. Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche (2000-01)

GP G A P +/-
82 54 64 118 45*

Everything came together for Sakic in 2000-01, as he took home the Hart, Pearson, and Lady Byng Trophies while finishing second in Selke Trophy voting. His 12 game-winning goals easily surpassed his previous career best of nine, and he chipped in 13 goals and 13 assists in 21 games to lead the Avalanche to their second Stanley Cup title.

89. Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders (1977-78)

GP G A P +/-
77 46 77* 123 52

After two promising seasons with the up-and-coming Islanders, Trottier broke out in a big way in 1977-78, leading the league in assists to reach the NHL First All-Star Team and finish second in Hart voting. Trottier enjoyed plenty of success in his early 20s as part of the Islanders' dynasty, but - like many others - was overshadowed by Gretzky in the early '80s.

88. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks (2005-06)

GP G A P +/-
81 29 96* 125* 31

Not many players with top-100 seasons were traded at some point during their campaign, but Thornton is a notable exception. After being dealt from Boston to San Jose, Thornton recorded 92 points in just 58 games with the Sharks en route to the Hart and Art Ross Trophies; he would go on to lead the NHL in assists in three straight seasons.

87. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils (2006-07)

W L T GAA SV% SO
48* 23 7 2.18 .922 12*

Many expected the increased offense brought about after the 2004-05 lockout would dampen goalie statistics. Someone forgot to tell Brodeur, who followed an impressive 2005-06 by establishing a league record for victories while also leading the NHL in games played (78), total saves (2,011), and minutes played (4,697). That earned him his third of four Vezinas.

86. Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers (1975-76)

GP G A P +/-
76 30 89* 119 83*

He was known for being a rough-and-tumble player who provided great postgame quotes, but Clarke was also one of the premier playmakers of his time. His second consecutive 89-assist season led him to a career-best point total, earning him his third Hart Trophy in a four-season span. A third straight Stanley Cup title was not in the cards, however, despite Clarke's 16 playoff points.

85. Pavel Bure, Florida Panthers (1999-2000)

GP G A P +/-
74 58* 36 94 25

Even while the neutral-zone trap produced historically low scoring totals, Bure remained one of the biggest offensive threats of his generation. The former Vancouver Canucks megastar was a sight to behold in his first full season in Florida, leading the NHL in goals by a whopping 14 tallies to capture his first of two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies.

84. Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens (1978-79)

GP G A P +/-
80* 52 77 129 56

Lafleur's five-season stretch from 1975-76 to 1979-80 stands as one of the best in NHL history; while he didn't lead the league in goals or assists in 1978-79, he did have an NHL-best 12 game-winning goals - his fourth time leading the league in five years - and he finished second in the Hart race. He added 23 playoff points as the Habs won their fourth Cup in a row.

83. Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens (1988-89)

W L T GAA SV% SO
33 5 6 2.47* .908* 4

The '80s are known for producing many of the top offensive seasons in NHL history - but, as you'll see, the decade also offered a handful of goalie performances that warrant a mention. Roy had been solid in his first three full seasons, but took it to another level in 1988-89, rolling to his first Vezina Trophy; he also went 13-6 with a 2.09 GAA in the playoffs as Montreal fell in the final.

82. Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens (1960-61)

GP G A P +/-
64 50* 45 95* --

It's tough to be the second guy to achieve a major accomplishment - but Geoffrion resonated with more than half the voters after becoming the second player (following teammate Maurice Richard) to score 50 goals in a season. It helped that Geoffrion added 45 assists for his second NHL scoring title; he also won his only Hart Trophy that year in a narrow vote over Johnny Bower.

81. Peter Stastny, Quebec Nordiques (1981-82)

GP G A P +/-
80 46 93 139 -10

The second-leading scorer in the 1980s behind only Gretzky, Stastny improved dramatically on his 109-point rookie campaign, finishing third in league scoring (albeit 73 points behind The Great One) and earning fourth place in the Hart Trophy race. It was the best season of an illustrious career that saw Stastny reach the 100-point mark seven times.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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The NHL's 100 Greatest Single-Season Performances: Nos. 100-81
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