Assists In Ice Hockey: Types, Stats and Examples
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Assists In Ice Hockey Explained: Types & Examples

Assists in ice hockey are an integral part of the game. The ability of players to make a scoring chance for another teammate is part of the peak of the game. But how much do you know about assists in the NHL? Let’s take a quick look at all you need to know about assists in the NHL. 

What Are Assists In Ice Hockey?

An assist is a term used to describe when a player sends a pass to another player who then scores a goal, according to the rules of ice hockey. Hockey assists are viewed in the same way as assists in football.

Hence, during an assist in ice hockey, a player with the puck creates an opening on the ice and delivers the puck to a teammate who is unimpeded so that a shot on goal may be taken. Yet for such help to be considered an assist, a goal must be scored.

Aside from the ability to earn points for scoring a goal, another way to earn points in ice hockey is by giving assists. Therefore, the number of successful assists players are able to make is also important in the NHL. Why?

This is because when deciding whether to offer a player an NHL contract, team management takes this figure into account.

It is common for elite players to have fewer goals than assists in professional ice hockey leagues like the NHL. This is so because assists quantify a player’s ability to formulate game tactics, much like goals assess a player’s hitting prowess.

How Many Points Are Assists In Hockey?

In ice hockey, a player receives a point for each assist. Additionally, each goal a player scores earns them one point. Relatively speaking, the value of measurement for the two ice hockey statistics is the same.

As a result, when a goal is scored with an assist from another player, both the player who assisted the goal and the person who scored the goal gain points.

Players having more assists than goals is rather typical in ice hockey. In reality, when goals are contrasted with the number of assists players have, practically all players (forwards and centers) in the NHL have more assists.

The sum of a player’s assists and goals is used to calculate the total career points for NHL players.

Nonetheless, ice hockey permits assists up to a second player, unlike the majority of sports. What does this imply then?

Types Of Assists In Ice Hockey

Types of assists in ice hockey

As I said earlier, assists are allowed in the NHL up to the second player. 

So what does this mean?

It means that a player who made a pass to the player who made the final pass to another player who scored a goal, you can receive an assist point. 

For this reason, there are two types of assists in ice hockey: Primary and Secondary assists. Let’s take a closer look. 

Primary Assists 

Primary assists in ice hockey are given to players who make the final pass to a teammate, resulting in a goal. These are the primary forms of assists, generally used as the only forms of assists in other sports.

Secondary Assists 

Secondary assists are pretty different from primary assists, and they have stirred some disagreement over the idea of them being considered a form of assist in ice hockey. A secondary assist is given to a player who made the pass to a player who gave the primary assist.

Therefore, he can be described as the third party in a goal or the second passer before a goal is scored.

Ice Hockey Assist Rules 

Not every pass or assist is counted as a primary or secondary assist in ice hockey. In this section, we will be looking at the rules that guide assists in ice hockey.

  • If a goal is not scored by the player who receives the pass, then an assist is not recorded
  • There can only be a maximum of two assists per goal. 
  • A secondary or main assist won’t be given on every goal, though. There won’t be a record of an assist if a player singlehandedly retrieves the puck and scores a goal.
  • A player is not eligible to get points for both goals and assists. A goal point is awarded if he scores the goal; an assist point is awarded if he provides the assist. In addition, this applies even if the player passes to himself by making a rebound with the sideboard and then scores a goal.

NHL Assist Leaderboard

NHL assist leaderboard

Most Assist In An NHL Season

The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, has the most assists in an NHL season. In the 1985–86 season, Gretzky collected 163 total assists.

In terms of assists, nobody in NHL history has come close to Gretzky. Gretzky holds the top twelve spots among players with the most NHL assists in a single season, leaving the 13th–20th spots open for other NHL Hall of Famers.

Most NHL Assist In The 2022-23 Season 

The player with the most assists at the end of the 2022-23 regular season was the center for the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid. For the season, he recorded 89 assists and went on to lead the league in total points.

Next to McDavid in second place is Nikita Kucherov, who had 83 points with the Tampa Bay Lightnings.

PlayersNo. Of Assists
Connor McDavid89
Nikita Kucherov83
Leon Draisaitl76
Erick Karlsson76
Nathan MacKinnon69
Mitchell Marner69
Matthew Tkachuk69

Most Assist In NHL History

Again, Wayne Gretzky holds the record for the NHL’s most assists in a career. Gretzky has 1,963 assists, which is a career-best. Since Gretzky’s era, no player has come close to that milestone quite as much.

Ron Francis, who has 1,249 assists in the NHL, is the guy who comes in second. Nonetheless, this still leaves the two players separated by a score differential of more than 700.

Even “Sid the Kid” has just recently moved up the chart, to number 16, with 946 assists in his career.

Top 20 Players With The Most Assists In The NHL

All time highest assist points in the NHL

The table below shows the top 20 players in NHL history with the most assists.

1Wayne Gretzky1963
2Ron Francis1249
3Mark Messier1193
4Ray Bourque1169
5Jaromir Jagr1155
6Paul Coffey1135
7Joe Thornton1109
8Adam Oates1079
9Steve Yzerman1063
10Gordie Howe1049
11Marcel Dionne1040
12Mario Lemieux1033
13Joe Sakic1016
14Doug Gilmour964
15Mark Recchi954
16Sidney Crosby953
17Al Macinnis934
18Larry Murphy929
19Stan Mikita926
20Bryan Trottier901
Data from

Some Memorable Assists In Ice Hockey

Some memorable assists in the NHL

Here are five of the most memorable assists from  NHL players such as Conner McDavid, MacKinnon, and others. 

Conner McDavid Assist To Ryan McLeod 

Connor McDavid had a clear assist for Ryan Mcleod, during an Edmonton Oilers vs. Ottawa Senators game.

On the Senators’ power play with 4:43 left in the second period, the assist took place. Prior to Ryan passing the ball, the Senators were aggressively pushing the Oiler in the defensive zone. This sparked a race between Thomas Chabot and Connor McDavid.

Chabot initially had control of the puck, but McDavid finally grabbed it back. After he gained control, he quickly saw that two Senator defensemen had tagged him. Therefore, with his superb stick-handling skills, he managed to maintain puck possession prior to passing the ball back to McLeod.

The back pass found its way to McLeod, who delivered a crisp one-timer that the Senators’ goalkeeper was unable to stop after passing past the defense that was protecting McDavid.

In fact, McLeod’s one-timer and McDavid’s assist were both clean.

Thomas Chatbot Assist To Anthony Duclair

In a 2019 game between the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings, Chatbot transferred the puck from his team’s (the Senators) defensive zone to the other team’s defensive zone (Red Wings).

Duclair caught the ball and took advantage of his one-on-one opportunity with the goaltender to score. Duclair received a terrific assist because the pass wasn’t offside and wasn’t too far away for him to have to run after it.

It was aimed correctly and fired with the appropriate force.

Nathan MacKinnon Assist To Mikko Rantanen (2020)

In the Colorado Avalanche’s game against the Dallas Stars, Andre Burakovsky attempted a goal shot. He missed the shot, and the ball bounced back onto the ice. Denis Gurianov briefly held the puck before Andre picked it up and handed it to Nathan MacKinnon.

Prior to passing the puck to Mikko, who then blasted the puck into the top corner of the goal, Mackinnon maneuvered himself near the goaltender. MacKinnon’s pass was just high enough to sail over a Dallas Stars player who had fallen on the ice in other to the puck.

Austin Matthews Assist To Mitch Marner (2019)

The Toronto Maple Leafs were playing the Carolina Hurricanes when Austin Matthews started to move the puck forward from the neutral zone.

The right half of the ice was where he was moving. Nevertheless, as he neared the right side of the goalie’s net, he executed a 360-degree spin and, at the conclusion of the move, passed the puck to Mitch Marner.

The puck was shifted from Matthews’ position on the right side of the rick to Marner’s position on the other side, where he was ready to shoot it into the net.

As soon as the puck reached Marner, he one-timed the puck, sending it soaring directly into the goalie’s net.

However, it is only possible because of the opportunity created by Matthews. When Matthews had the puck, all of the defense shifted to his side of the ice when he had the ball, leaving a gap for Marner.

Zach Bogosian Assist To Blake Coleman (2020)

Zach Bogosian provided an outstanding assist for the Tampa Bay Lightning on August 25, 2020, during a game against the Boston Bruins. He led a breakaway as it began in the Lightning’s defensive zone.

Zach pushed the puck through the attacking zone and the neutral zone. Before passing the ball to Coleman, he used deft stick-handling and quickness to get the puck past two defenders who were flanking him on both sides.

Because the pass was above the ice, Zach Bogosian had to dive to shoot the puck into the goal while it was still in the air. The Tampa Bay Lightning then used that as the catalyst for a fantastic goal and assist.


Finally, we come to the end of assists in ice hockey. This should have opened your eyes to all you need to know about assists in ice hockey and the NHL.

Thanks for reading.

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