Why Alex Ovechkin Can Break Wayne Gretzky’s Goal Record

The NHL season is still suspended but that doesn’t mean that Alex Ovechkin can’t eventually break Wayne Gretzky’s legendary goal record.

This is one of the most intriguing stories in hockey right now. Ovechkin’s pursuit of Gretzky’s all-time goal record is compelling. The record once seemed too far but the Capitals winger recently surpassed 700 goals.

Ovechkin now has 706 career goals to be precise. That puts him eighth in the all-time list of goal scorers, 188 behind Wayne Gretzky. Does Ovechkin have enough career left?


2020 Regular Season is Over

Ovechkin will have to wait until the 2020-21 season to add more goals. The NHL will resume play soon but they will go straight to the playoffs. The 2019-20 regular season is over, which means that Ovechkin will miss out on valuable goals due to unexpected circumstances that he can’t control.

Before this season was paused, Ovechkin and Bruins winger David Pastrnak were leading the NHL with 48 goals. Although Pastrnak got his goals in 70 games while Ovechkin did it in 68 games.

Ovechkin’s average of 0.71 goals per game was tied for the second-best of his prestigious 15-year career. Had he kept scoring at the same pace for the 13 games that he won’t get to play, Ovechkin would’ve finished with 56 goals. That would easily be his best tally in over 11 seasons.

To sum up, that’s eight more goals that he could’ve had. Can he make up for them down the road as he hopes to catch Gretzky?


More Lost Seasons

This isn’t the first time that Ovechkin has lost valuable time while pursuing Gretzky. He was supposed to have his rookie season in 2004-05 but the NHL was on lockout. The 2005-06 campaign was Ovechkin’s first in the NHL and he finished with 52 goals, the third-best mark for a rookie.

We will never know if he would’ve been equally productive in 2004-05 but it’s safe to assume that the then-19-year-old could have scored at least 40 goals. This means that right now he would have at least 746 career goals.

The 2012-13 season was shortened to only 48 games because of another lockout but Ovechkin still averaged 0.67 goals per game. His 32 goals that year were pretty impressive but at his pace, he could have scored around 54 goals. That’s potentially 22 more goals that he missed out on.

At 34 years old, Ovechkin doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Sportsnet Stats made the math and if he averages 35 goals per season moving forward, he could break Gretzky’s record in 2025. Ovechkin would be 40 years old at that time.

Ovechkin seems to be ageless but this is a tough ask even for him. Having one or two more 50-goal seasons would really help lighten the load for him though. Every goal counts in a race like this.

Eduardo Solano