As the Calder Trophy is one of the few accolades that Wayne Gretzky was never permitted to collect, The Great One bounces out of contention for rookie-based NHL records. 

Presumably, that’d make something like the NHL record for the most goals in a rookie season more attainable, and yet, the record – much like many of Gretzky’s – blows the competition out of the water and sits beyond reach. 

Here’s a look at the most prolific goal-scoring rookie the NHL has ever seen, the player who sets the bar for rookie scoring in the playoffs, and how Gretzky’s first season compares.

Who Has The NHL Record For The Most Regular Season Goals In A Rookie Season?

Teemu Selänne is the NHL record holder for the most goals in a rookie season, and there hasn’t ever been anything close to a competitor to the Finn’s crown

Selänne came into the NHL as a 22-year-old right wing for the 1992/93 campaign and finished it as the star of the Winnipeg Jets with 76 goals scored in his rookie season. 

The NHL record stands head and shoulders above the next-highest goal count by a rookie. The bar was set high by Mike Bossy with 53 goals in 1977/78, which was almost met by Alex Ovechkin in 2005/06 with his 52-goal tally.

Selected tenth overall in the 1988 Entry Draft, he was sent back to Finland to hone his craft for a few seasons with Jokerit. That time permitted by the Jets led to one of the most memorable rookie seasons of all time. 

During this carnage of a goal-scoring season, Selänne scored his first goal in his second game, netted his first hat-trick in his fifth game, tallied 11 by his 12th game, and finished the season with four hat-tricks.  

In the playoffs this season, the Jets certainly could have done with this kind of high-scoring rookie, having been ousted in five games by the +250 second-favourites in the NHL odds to win the Western Conference. 

Who Has The NHL Record For The Most Postseason Goals In A Rookie Season?

The rookie with the NHL record for the most playoff goals is Dino Ciccarelli, who put up 14 goals in 19 games for the Minnesota North Stars in the 1980/81 postseason. 

Ciccarelli and the North Stars charged to the Stanley Cup Finals in 14 games but lost in five when it counted the most. The Ontario-born rookie played every playoff game despite his short stint in the regular season. 

He began the campaign with the Oklahoma City Stars in the CHL and was called up to the NHL lines late on. Kicking off a hot run to the postseason, Ciccarelli posted 18 goals and 30 points in 32 games. 

Dino’s penchant for scoring in the playoffs ended him with 73 goals in 141 postseason games as well as 608 goals in 1,232 regular season games. His final team, the Florida Panthers, are among the betting favourites for the Eastern Conference this season. 

For reference, Selänne’s romp in the regular season was cut short when the postseason began, with the Winnipeg Jets being unable to trump the Vancouver Canucks, bowing out in six games and leaving the Finn with four goals. 

Unlike Selänne’s NHL rookie record for goals scored, Ciccarelli does seem more likely to be usurped down the line. In 2016/17, Jake Guentzel came close for the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 13 goals en route to their Stanley Cup triumph. 

How Many Goals Did Wayne Gretzky Score in His First NHL Season?

Wayne Gretzky scored 51 goals in his first NHL season. If it counted as a rookie season, The Great One would rank tied for fourth for rookie goal-scoring alongside Joe Nieuwendyk. 

That season, the Oilers capitulated in the playoffs. In the three-game sample that Gretzky could feature in, he scored two goals and three points. So, he wouldn’t rank well for that NHL record. 

The NHL record for the most goals scored by a rookie belongs to Teemu Selänne, and it doesn’t seem likely that the legendary Finnish winger will ever be usurped.

*Credit for all images in this article belongs to Alamy*

Ben is very much a sports nerd, being obsessed with statistical deep dives and the numbers behind the results and performances.

Top of the agenda are hockey, soccer, and boxing, but there's always time for the NFL, cricket, Formula One, and a bit of mixed martial arts.