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Nylander eyes exclusive club with season-opening point streak at 17

William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander - Getty Images

William Nylander has a chance to go where no active NHL player has gone before with a point Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs star's season-opening point streak currently sits at 17 games, leaving him on the edge of the longest streak to start a season in nearly two decades.

Viewers in the Maple Leafs region can watch Friday's game LIVE on TSN4, with pregame coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. 

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is only other active player to post a 17-game point streak to open a campaign, having done so in 2021-22.

Former Detroit Red Wings centre Henrik Zetterberg also hit 17 games in 2007-08, while Dany Heatley is the only player in this millennium to go beyond that mark. Heatley recorded a point or more in the first 22 games of the 2005-06 season with the Ottawa Senators.  

The longest-ever point streak to start a season is a record unlikely to ever be touched. Wayne Gretzky made it to 51 games before seeing his streak end in the 1983-84 season. The Great One also sits tied for the second-longest streak to start a season, with 30 in 1982-83. Mats Sundin also reached the 30-game mark with the Quebec Nordiques in 1992-93. 

Just five players have ever made it 18 straight games with a point to start a season, a group Nylander can join on Friday.

Longest Season-Opening Point Streaks

Rank Player Team Season Streak
1 Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1983-84 51
T2 Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1982-83 30
T2 Mats Sundin Quebec Nordiques 1992-93 30
4 Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 1988-89 23
5 Dany Heatley Ottawa Senators 2005-06 22
T6 Bill Cowley Boston Bruins 1943-44 18
T6 Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings 1979-80 18

Nylander has already set the Maple Leafs franchise record for a season-opening point streak. He is just the second Leafs player in the past 25 years to post a point streak of at least 14 games. Mitch Marner enjoyed a 23-game point streak last season.

The 27-year-old forward, who is currently slated for unrestricted free agency next summer, leads the Maple Leafs with 27 points this season. His 12 goals are second on team behind Auston Matthews (14) and he is tied for the team lead is assists at 15 with Marner.

Nylander is coming off an impressive two-game showing in his native Sweden in which he posted five points, including an overtime winner Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.

"He's got such confidence and swagger here now that he is just feeling like he can turn a game at any point in time," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of Nylander after Sunday's. "He stepped up in big moments and was a huge part of why we got four points here." 

"We all love Willie," Matthews added. "He's a special guy, a special player.

"A trip that we're all going to remember."

The Maple Leafs, who improved to 10-5-2 while in Sweden, will look for a fifth straight win Friday in Chicago.