What If…Pavel Bure had an injury-free career?

The Hockey News
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)

By Nathan Kanter

Pavel Bure was one of the purest snipers ever, but his career was cut short because of knee problems. He retired in 2005 with 437 goals in just 702 games, an average of .623 goals per game, which ranks fifth all-time. But what if Bure didn’t have to deal with a chronically injured knee? What if… he had an injury-free career?

Bure came into the NHL as a 20-year-old in 1991 and played until 2002-03. He averaged just 59.8 games played, not including the 1994-95 lockout campaign. Let’s say he averaged 75 games during those 11 seasons for a total of 825 games. That would give him 514 career goals. Add the 20 he scored during the lockout and by the end of the ’02-03 he would have had 534 career goals. And still be just 32 years old.

But who retires at 32? Let’s say Bure played until he was 35. Taking his goal-scoring pace from his last season (.487) and applying it to two more seasons at 75 games played each would add another 73 goals, for a career total of 607 (18th all-time). Retiring at 35, however, might still be modest. Three more 31-goal seasons (a .378 pace) would vault Bure to 700 career goals, moving him from 63rd to seventh on the all-time goals list.

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 edition of The Hockey News. For more great analysis, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to THN magazine.