GR8NESS: OVI’S CHASE FOR 700: As Alex Ovechkin approaches 700 career NHL goals, PHT is going to examine all aspects of his goal-scoring prowess. We’ll break down and provide context for his amazing stats, project if he can top Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894, and take a look at his most important goals.
We have some more numbers for you as Alex Ovechkin closes in on the 700-goal mark. In this edition, we take a look at his performance in a more historical context compared to some of the NHL’s other all-time greats.
He enters Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with 698 career goals.
Second-fastest to ever reach the 700-goal mark
Assuming he scores two goals within his next 20 games played, Ovechkin will be the second-fastest player to ever reach the 700-goal mark, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (886 games). He will be just the third player to ever do it in fewer than 1,200 games, joining Gretzky and Brett Hull (1,157 games).
That accomplishment is impressive enough on its own without any additional context.
But add in the context that Ovechkin broke into the league and played the bulk of his prime in one of the lowest goal-scoring eras ever, while almost every other 700-goal club member played in one of the highest goal-scoring eras, and it becomes even more impressive.
There is no slowing down Part 1
It is expected that players will see their production slow down as they get deeper into their 30s, but it has not happened with Ovechkin.
His 0.59 goal per game average between the ages of 30-34 is almost identical to what he did between the ages of 20-29 (0.63).
Phil Esposito and Bobby Hull are currently the only players in league history to average more goals per game between the ages of 30-34.
Not enough? Esposito and Gordie Howe are the only members of the 700-goal club that have ever led the league in goal-scoring after turning 30. Howe did it once. Esposito did it three times.
Ovechkin has already done it three times and is in a position to do it a fourth time this season.
There is no slowing down Part 2
At his current pace this season Ovechkin is on track to score 60 goals this season, which would make it the second-highest total of his career. He is, again, 34 years old.
So let’s keep that age in mind and check in with the best goal-scoring seasons ever at that age (or older).
First, let’s consider that he already has 40 goals in the Capitals’ first 53 games of the season. Here is where that stands among all players in NHL history, age 34 or older, through their team’s first 53 games
Now, the best goal-per-game performances over a full season for the same age range in NHL history. Keep in mind Ovechkin still has nearly 30 games remaining this season. He is still on track for a performance that is nearly unmatched in NHL history for his age.
John Bucyk remains the only player in NHL history to ever actually score 50 goals after turning 34 years old.
Ovechkin is on pace for 60 goals this season.
The 60-goal mark has only been reached four times since the start of the 1995 season: Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr during the 1995-96 season, Ovechkin during the 2007-08 season, and Steven Stamkos during the 2011-12 season. Lemieux was 30 years old when he did it. The other three instances all came for players age 23 or younger.
Decade-and-a-half of dominance where no one is close to him
Here are the NHL’s goal leaders since the start of the 2000-01 season:
Ovechkin, of course, did not start playing hockey until the 2005-06 season.
He is first in goals scored from this era despite being 15th in games played.
He has 164 more goals than any other player. The gap between him and Jarome Iginla at the top is the same as the gap between Iginla at No. 2 and Phil Kessel, the 23rd ranked goal-scorer player from that era.
This is just a crazy number
During Ovechkin’s career (14.5 seasons at the moment) he has scored 19 percent of the Capitals’ totals goals during that stretch.
By comparison, during Gretzky’s first 15 seasons in the NHL he only scored 14 percent of his team’s goals with the Oilers and Kings.
• My Favorite Goal: Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
• Looking back at Ovechkin’s incredible January
• Crosby, Kane, Ovechkin highlight NHL’s All-Decade Team
• Alex Ovechkin’s 698 goals by the numbers