Patric Hornqvist and James Neal (Getty Images)
Jamie Benn scored his first career hat trick Tuesday, but there are still five players you might not expect who are waiting for their own regular season trio. The top two come as huge surprises.
Multi-goal games happen on a near nightly basis, but it takes a special night for a player to complete a hat trick. There have been strange hat tricks in NHL history – heck, Mason Raymond has three in his career – but even most gifted offensive talents have struggled to net their own.
Take Jamie Benn, for instance. Tuesday night marked his first career hat trick and it was his 401st NHL game. Shane Doan was drafted in 1995 and scored his first trio in 2012. Brad Richards was nearly 33 before he scored his first.
Two players on this list have had playoff hat tricks, but the regular season feat remains out of their grasp. The names will shock you, too. These are five players waiting for their first career hat trick:
5. Mike Green, Washington Capitals
It’s hard to believe this is Green’s 10th season in the NHL and ninth full campaign, because it seems like just yesterday he burst onto the scene as the Capitals flashy, high-powered blueliner that was burying goals left, right and center.
In 2008-09, Green scored 31 goals from the back end, finishing second in Norris Trophy voting with 73 points in 68 games. If he had played a few more, Green might not be on this list, but as luck would have it he has yet to cash in three times in a single regular season contest.
He’s scored a pair 16 times. Maybe number 17 will be good luck.
4. Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
Koivu has 486 points in 657 games. He’s had 13 multi-goal games. Not a single one of those has been a hat trick.
When you consider Koivu’s aptitude as a playmaker, it makes it less surprising that he’s never netted three, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s more likely to reach 500 points before he finally scores three in a night. His career bests came in 2009-10, when Koivu scored 22 goals and 71 points in 80 games. He also scored twice three times that season. So close.
3. Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins
Hornqvist’s career spans seven seasons, and he’s netted at least 20 in four of them. In 2009-10, he potted a career-high 30, and followed that with seasons of 21 and 27. He has the scoring touch and he’s been known to score in bunches. This season, playing with the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-led Penguins, it seemed like a near certainty that Hornqvist was headed for another big season. Unfortunately, injury has sidelined him for more than a dozen games.
In his career, Hornqvist has found the back of the net twice in 16 games, and it’s his 2009-10 30-goal season which will haunt his hat trick dreams. Five times that season he scored a pair of goals, but he was never able to complete the feat. An Oct. 18 contest this season, when the Penguins faced the New York Islanders, will also forever be in his mind as he put 12 shots on net with only two finding mesh.
2. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Yes, there is something to be said about his two playoff hat tricks, but Kane is still waiting to net three in one regular season outing. Incredible, right?
Kane has had 24 multi-goal games in the regular season and not once has he scored a hat trick. He is the 45th highest scoring active player, yet still, even with 556 career points, it is the trio of goals that eludes him. Kane is having the best season of his career with 63 points in 57 games and currently leads the NHL’s point-scoring race.
He’s well on pace to have the best scoring season of his career, only three goals off of his career-high with 25 games remaining. Barring injury, Kane is going to set new personal bests in goals and points, and it sure would be nice to see him finally get the hat trick to go along with that.
1. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
The ‘Magic Man,’ of all people, doesn’t have a hat trick in the regular season. He has scored three in the post season, that coming against Dallas in the 2008 playoffs, but he has yet to score three in a regular season game throughout his illustrious career.
If you thought Kane’s 24 multi-goal games without a hat trick was mindboggling, Datsyuk has done it 34 times, most recently against Winnipeg on Valentine’s Day this season. His best shot came in October 2013 when Datsyuk had two goals and eight shots against the Colorado Avalanche.
Datsyuk is the 14th highest scoring active player with 846 points and one of the most creative and skillful stickhandlers the game has ever seen. He’s still got two years left on his contract with the Red Wings after this season, and if this is his final NHL run, it would seem unjust for him to finish his career without a single regular season hat trick.