As Alex Ovechkin finishes his eighth 50 goal season of his career, it makes you think, is he the greatest goal scorer of all time? Currently, the Washington Capitals captain sits 13th all time in goals with 658 in 1082 games. Thats an average of .6 goals per game throughout his career. The Great 8 has proven to be quite durable throughout his 14 year career never playing less than 72 games (he played all 48 in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season). He is only 33 and it would be fair to assume he could play until 40. Therefore It would be conceivable that he could come close to, if not surpass, Wayne Gretzky’s all time 894 goals and perhaps be the first and only player in NHL history to hit 900. If Ovechkin were to play 7 more seasons, he would need to average about 35 goals per year to reach 900. Anyone doubt that is possible?
The other factor to consider is the era in which Ovechkin plays in versus the era Gretzky played it. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s goalies were starting to explore a new style called the ‘butterfly’ (see Patrick Roy) and their equipment was significantly smaller than today’s. The average goals per game per team in the 80’s was a high flying 4 goals. Meaning that the average number of goals scored per game was more than 8!! In the Ovi era, 2005 and up, the goals per game per team has only surpassed 3 twice, his rookie year (3.08) and this season (3.02). That is a difference of 2 goals per game less than when Gretzky was lighting the lamp.
The last factor is Ovechkin’s pure power with his shot. He has scored the majority of his goals from the same area his entire career. Defenseman don’t seem to want to block it (can’t blame them) and goalies can’t seem to stop it. He is going to take a one timer from the left site on a power play and 14 years later, he still scores with pin point accuracy and sheer power every season. With (likely) 8 Richard trophies in 14 seasons, his reign of goal scoring dominance will continue for years to come.
Gretzky’s point total is likely untouchable, but give it a few years and Ovechkin will make the all time goal total seem more and more within reach.