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Top 10 greatest NHL playoff performances of all time
Connor McDavid finished the postseason with 33 points. (Credit: Walter Tychnowicz/USA TODAY Sports)

Top 10 greatest NHL playoff performances of all time

EDMONTON, Alberta (BVM) — Despite his team being swept in the Western Conference finals by the Colorado Avalanche, Connor McDavid put together one of the most historic postseason runs of all time. 

After the Oilers got through the Los Angeles Kings and the Calgary Flames, McDavid was receiving Gretzky-like comparisons with his dominance. But where do his numbers stack up next to “the Great One?” Where do they stack up against some of the greatest individual postseasons of all time? Here are the 10 greatest playoff performances by a skater in NHL history.

  1. Mario Lemieux, 1990-91, 1.91 PPG
Lemieux played over 900 career games with the Penguins. (Credit: RVR Photos/USA TODAY Sports)

In the season prior, Lemieux suffered a back injury that got progressively worse. This would force him to have surgery prior to the beginning of the 1990-91 season, ultimately missing 50 games throughout the year. Lemieux made up for his time missed, scoring 45 points in 26 games in the regular season, allowing him to get into a groove just in time for the postseason.

Lemieux scored 44 points in 23 playoff games helping lead the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup over the Minnesota North Stars. The 44 points stand as the second most in a single postseason, making him the obvious candidate for the Conn Smythe trophy that year.

  1. Rick Middleton, 1982-83, 1.94 PPG
Rick Middleton holds the record for points in a single playoff series. (Credit: Dick Raphael/USA TODAY Sports)

Middleton’s 96 regular season points were a big part of the Bruins’ success in the 1982-83 season. Boston won 50 games, accumulating a league-best 110 points.

Middleton would put up 33 points in 17 postseason games before Boston was knocked out in the conference finals by the New York Islanders. The winger scored 19 points in the division finals in a sevengame series against Buffalo, which still remains an NHL record for points in a single postseason series.

  1. Mike Bossy, 1980-81, 1.94 PPG
Mike Bossy scored 573 goals during his 10 NHL seasons. (Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

It is safe to say Mike Bossy’s 1980-81 campaign will be one that will be talked about for the rest of time. That season, Bossy became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in their first 50 games. With his 68 goals that year, Bossy also set the NHL record with nine hat tricks in a single season.

Bossy scored 35 points in 18 games that postseason, helping the Islanders to their second Stanley Cup in a stretch of four consecutive championships. Bossy’s nine powerplay goals during those playoffs are still an NHL record.

  1. Leon Draisaitl, 2021-22, 2 PPG
Draisaitl scored 55 goals this past season. (Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

Draisaitl typically goes under the radar as McDavid’s linemate, but he contributes nearly as much. The German forward finished the season with career highs in goals with 55 and points with 110. This would be the second time in his career that he eclipsed the 50 goal mark and the third time for the 100point mark.

After getting past the Kings in the first round, Draisaitl put up 17 points in a five game series against the Flames. He scored three points or more in every game of the round, helping Edmonton get to the Western Conference finals. He finished the postseason with 32 points in 16 games and became the fourth fastest player in NHL history to 50 career playoff points. 

  1. Paul Coffey, 1984-85, 2.06 PPG
Coffey during a Winter Classic alumni game in 2010. (Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

Known as one of the greatest offensive defenseman in NHL history, Coffey finished the 1984-85 season with 37 goals and 121 points, taking home the Norris trophy that year. 

He continued his great stretch in the playoffs setting NHL records for goals, assists and points by a defenseman in a single postseason. His 37 points in 18 games were enough to help Edmonton get past the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final to win their second consecutive championship.

  1. Connor McDavid 2021-22, 2.06 PPG
McDavid after his series-clinching goal against Calgary. (Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

For the fourth time in his career, McDavid won the Art Ross trophy with his 123 points, also scoring 44 goals. He is also a finalist for both the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.


McDavid led Edmonton past the Kings in the first round with 4 goals and 10 assists, having a multi-point game in six of the seven games throughout the series. The 25-year-old finished the postseason scoring 33 points in 16 games.

  1. Wayne Gretzky, 1987-88, 2.26 PPG
Gretzky won four Stanley Cups, all with the Oilers. (Credit: Porter Binks/USA TODAY Sports)

The first of three times that Gretzky appears on the list, the Canadian-born center put up his second-lowest point total during his time in Edmonton with a measly 149 points. This was the only season from the span of 1979 to 1989 that Gretzky did not win the Hart Memorial Trophy.

In the long run, that is probably not something Gretzky cares about as he scored 43 points throughout the playoffs that season, winning his fourth Stanley Cup with the Oilers. Following the season, he would be a part of the biggest trade in NHL history that would send him to Los Angeles.

  1. Mario Lemieux, 1991-92, 2.27 PPG

Despite only playing in 64 games in 1991-92, Lemieux picked up his third Art Ross Trophy with 131 points.

Lemieux put up 10 less points this postseason than the postseason prior, but he also played in eight less games. He missed five games due to a broken hand and continued to play through it afterwards. Lemieux finished with 16 goals and 34 points helping the Penguins win their second consecutive Stanley Cup. The center accumulated 78 points over the course of the two postseasons. 

  1. Wayne Gretzky, 1982-83, 2.38 PPG

Gretzky scored 196 points during the 1982-83 regular season, highlighted by his 125 assists. To no surprise, he took home the trio of the Art Ross Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy.

After scoring 38 points in 16 games in the playoffs, Gretzky’s Oilers were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals. Gretzky would get his revenge against New York the following postseason, ending the Islanders’ streak of four consecutive Stanley Cups.

  1. Wayne Gretzky, 1984-85, 2.61 PPG

The greatest player of all time put up 208 points in 1984-85, which was only the third-highest point total of his career. Once again, he won all of the biggest awards this season.

He took it up a notch in the postseason scoring an NHL record 47 playoff points in just 18 games. Gretzky led the Oilers to their second Stanley Cup that season. In his 208 career playoff games, he amassed an NHL record 382 points with four Stanley Cups.

Photo: Connor McDavid finished the postseason with 33 points. (Credit: Walter Tychnowicz/USA TODAY Sports)