The Backstory

For those of you who don’t know, my name is Arik Krause. I’ve been an author on Win Column Sports for almost a year now and I’ve been a Washington Capitals fan all my life despite living in Edmonton. People always think I’m a bandwagon fan, especially with us recently winning the Stanley Cup but my fandom goes back to when I was a child. My father owned a 1990 Stanley Cup playoff DVD which celebrated the Edmonton Oilers championship. I always used to watch it and something that stuck with me from when I was a child was Dino Ciccarelli scored 8 goals in a six-game series over the New Jersey Devils. Washington would move onto the second round to play the NY Rangers who they’d beat but eventually, fall to Boston in the Conference Finals. Something about Ciccarelli and the goal horn stuck with me and the rest is history.

I’m going to tell you today why I think Alexander Ovechkin is going to beat Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record of 894.

Bit of History

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Ovechkin at the time of writing currently sits 15th on the all-time goal-scoring list, recently passing Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla. Currently, Ovechkin only sits 11 behind Dave Andreychuk, and at his current pace is set to score 62 goals this year, despite everybody saying he’s going to slow down soon. If that holds true he’ll end the season tied with Luc Robitaille for 12th place.

Since entering the NHL, Alexander Ovechkin has yet to have a season with less than 32 goals. Yes, that even includes a lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. One thing that works strongly against Ovechkin is the fact he missed his draft year due to the lockout. Ovechkin was selected first overall by the Capitals in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft but stayed in Russia for a year due to the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. Ovechkin’s first year would be the 2005-2006 season where he won the Calder Memorial Trophy (awarded to the leagues best rookie) scoring 52 goals and 54 assists. One can only assume with that season and a half given back to Ovechkin, he has at the very least another 50 goals - and that’s low balling, by quite a bit. I’ll be the first to say, if he finishes within 100 goals of Gretzky, I’ll always wonder if the difference maker was the lockout seasons.

Ovechkin has quite the trophy case so far in his career.

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1x Stanley Cup, 1x Conn Smythe, 7x Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (ties Bobby Hull for the most times in history), 3x Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP), 3x Ted Lindsay Award, 1x Art Ross Trophy, 10x NHL First All-Star Team, 10x NHL All-Star Game, 1x Calder Memorial Trophy.

Why He Can Do It

Now that we’ve gone over a bit of his past, it’s time to answer the question. Why do I think he’ll break Gretzky’s all-time goal record?

First off, most of Gretzky’s records have been considered “untouchable” so the fact we even mention Ovechkin in the same breath is a testament to the generational talent he’s been since entering the league. No player in history has the shot that Ovechkin possesses. While he may not be able to score on the rush anymore, as he’s now 33 years old and has slowed down, he’s tailored his game to fit his age. He’s always around the front of the net now, scoring an increasing amount of garbage goals.

Ovechkin has 7 seasons with 50+ goals, unheard of in today’s NHL. Frankly, most players are lucky to have one. He also has close seasons of 50+. Most recently, in 2017-2018 he had 49 goals, in which he played basically the last six minutes of the final regular season game to get 50 but simply couldn’t. Oh well, he won the Stanley Cup that year, a good trade-off.

Let’s take Ovechkin’s current goal total, 629 and subtract if by Gretzky’s record, 894.

That leaves us with 265 goals to close the gap.

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Ovechkin just turned 33 years old and has only missed 28 games in his 14-year career. That stat in itself is remarkable in its own, especially considering the way he plays the game, always physical. Not all these missed games are due to injury either, he’s been suspended a couple times). If Ovechkin played until he is 40 - which is becoming increasingly more likely with bigger bodied players such as Joe Thornton and Jaromir Jagr - he would have to average 37 goals a season going forward. He’s already got 22 goals this season, so he’ll likely smash that 37 goal plateau.

He’s only scored less than 37 goals, 3 times in his 13 completed seasons in the NHL, one of those being a shortened 48 game lockout year in which he scored 32 goals.

I truly believe that the goal record means a lot to this man and the way the Capitals powerplay focuses on feeding him, he can easily score 25+ in his later years just off that one-timer alone. How Ovechkin performs in the next two years before turning 35 is going to be the true testament to whether he breaks the record in my opinion. If he can score 50+ the next two to three seasons, he makes breaking that record very manageable.

The current NHL CBA expires September 2020 and I fear that will lead to at least another shortened season. Another lockout would be catastrophic to Ovechkin’s attempt to break the record.

If he can remain healthy and play until he’s 40, there’s no reason why Alexander Ovechkin doesn’t become the new NHL all-time goals leader and maybe, just maybe. One of Wayne Gretzky’s “untouchables” gets smashed.

If you’d like to share your opinion with Arik, you can contact him on Twitter HERE.

You can see more of his content for Win Column Sports HERE.

Alexander Ovechkin | Knocking on Gretzky’s Door
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