Jan 23, 2020 - Sports

How Alex Ovechkin could pass Wayne Gretzky for most NHL career goals

Data: Hockey Reference; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Hockey Reference; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

At first, the idea that Alexander Ovechkin could break Wayne Gretzky's "untouchable" goal-scoring record seems crazy. But then you do the math, and ... it's really not.

By the numbers: With eight goals over a three-game stretch last week, Ovechkin moved into a tie for ninth place on the all-time goals list with 692 career goals, 202 shy of Gretzky's 894.

  • Assuming he finishes with 56 goals this year (that's his current pace), Ovechkin would start next season 180 goals shy of Gretzky's mark, meaning he'd need to average 36.2 goals over the next five seasons to break the record in year 20, which is the same number of years Gretzky played.

Worth noting: Ovechkin will turn 38 four seasons from now (2023-24). By comparison, Gretzky retired after his age-38 campaign (1998-99) and didn't score more than 25 goals in any of his final five seasons.

Side-by-side: Gretzky was a sniper who possessed one of the most accurate slap shots the world has ever seen, while Ovechkin is a volume shooter and the best power-play goal scorer of all time.

  • Gretzky: 894 goals on 5,088 shots (17.6%); 204 power play goals
  • Ovechkin: 692 goals on 5,458 shots (12.7%); 258 power play goals

The last word, courtesy of retired NHL player turned broadcaster Eddie Olczyk:

"10 years ago, I probably would have said, 'not happening, nobody's catching Gretzky ever.' But boy oh boy ... Can [Ovechkin] play another five years? Yeah, I think he can, so ... never say never."

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