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'What if?' Could Jagr have matched Gretzky in goal scoring?

Jaromir Jagr is No. 3 all-time in NHL goals scored, with 742. Next up on the list is Gordie Howe, with 801. Jeff Sanzare/NHLI/Getty Images

Jaromir Jagr is third on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list with 742, 152 behind Wayne Gretzky’s record. Although Jagr, who turned 44 this month, has 20 goals this season, it is highly unlikely he will match Gretzky’s total.

But Jagr has missed all or part of six NHL seasons during his career to events not related to injuries, skill or suspension. Had he not missed that time, how many goals could he have scored?

Missed time

For three seasons, from 2008-09 to 2010-11, Jagr left the NHL to play in the Kontinental Hockey League, based in Russia.

In 1994-95 and 2012-13, lockouts resulted in 48-game NHL seasons. The 2004-05 season was canceled because of a lockout.

These factors caused Jagr to lose out on an estimated 371 games in his NHL career.

Projecting production in missed time

Assuming Jagr would have played to his averages in and around the seasons he missed, it’s possible to estimate how many additional goals he could have scored in those seasons.

1994-95: 23 goals

2012-13: 11 goals

2004-05: 33 goals

2008-09 through 2010-11: 108 goals (36 goals per season)

This projection for Jagr’s goals during his time in the KHL factors in his 54-goal season in 2005-06, a level he has not approached since. Using a more conservative projection, Jagr might have scored roughly 75 goals in those years.

Accounting for lost time, Jagr could have scored an additional 175 goals. He is on pace to score eight more goals this season, which would increase the total to 183.

Some rules, such as limits on the size of goalie pads and the rules on two-line passes, have changed since Gretzky's playing days. There is no way of accurately accounting for the effect of such rules changes in the projections.

It is important to note that Gretzky and Brett Hull (fourth on the goals list with 741) also dealt with work stoppages. Using the same thinking for all three players, the goals leaderboard could look something like the chart above.