Ovechkin inching closer to breaking Gretzky’s all-time goals record

Every day, it’s becoming more and more possible that Alex Ovechkin might just break Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record.

At 36, Ovechkin is showing no signs of slowing down. Ovechkin has 18 goals in 20 games to start the 2021-22 NHL season. He’s coming off his 28th career hat trick last night, leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the league-leading Florida Panthers. His shooting percentage may be a little elevated relative to his career, but his shot volume still remains significant every game.

A goal off a rebound on the powerplay from his patented left faceoff circle, an unassisted slap-shot goal off the rush, and a one-timer right in front of the net, Ovechkin still manages to find different ways to score every game.

“He’s a pretty motivated guy,” Laviolette said. “I don’t know if it’s one thing that he looks at and that’s what gets him going. He comes to the rink, he wants to play and he wants to be a contributor.”

Ovechkin now has 748 goals on his career, 146 back of Gretzky’s 894. A few years ago, you could easily make the case for Ovechkin as the best goal scorer in NHL history. Now, with this added longevity and consistently to his career during his mid-30s, I think there is no doubt.

His production in his mid-30s has already exceeded what Gretzky was able to do in his mid-30s.

Florida Panthers coach Andrew Brunette called him “the second greatest goal scorer of all-time” before the game.

How much longer until he unanimously is considered the best? I’d bet that it’s only a matter of time.

Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy an NHL-record nine times. It is awarded to the player who scores the most goals in a single season.

He’s also won almost every other major award in the NHL, including the Hart Trophy, an Art Ross, the Ted Lindsay Award, the Calder Trophy, and most importantly, the Stanley Cup in 2018. There’s not much else Ovechkin can do to solidify himself as one of the very best in NHL history.

Except this.

Assuming he plays until he is 40, he would only need 30 goals per season (including another 30 this season), to break the record. If he breaks that, he could easily become the first player in NHL history to score 900 goals.

Odds for Ovechkin passing Gretzky for the all-time goals record were at about +200 in September, implying a chance of about 33.33%. Those numbers have likely changed thanks to this blistering start of 18 goals in 21 games.

Ovechkin stated before this season, that the length of his five-year extension was specifically related to playing long enough to catch Gretzky’s record.

It will be fun to watch him chase it down over the next few seasons as we should appreciate the latter half of his career. I think that most people are hoping it happens. Even the Great One himself stated that he wants Ovechkin to break his record.

“I think if Alex can stay healthy, I think it’s great for the game if he breaks the record because he is the greatest goalscorer that we’ve ever seen – because it’s harder to score today than it was 30, 40, 50 years ago”, Gretzky said prior to the start of the 2021-22 NHL season.

“As I teasingly say to people, the first 700 are the easy ones,” he said. “It’s the next 150 that are the hard ones.”

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