Source: Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
It's hard to believe that one of Wayne Gretzky's records is somewhat in reach, especially his 894 goals mark. Well, now there's a chance. Yesterday the Russian sniper reached the 700 goal milestone against the New Jersey Devils and is only the second player in history to reach the mark before the age of 35.
Earlier this year Ovechkin passed Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in goals and tied Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr’s mark of 15 seasons with at least 30 goals or more. Given that Ovie has managed to stay healthy thus far in his career it’s not insane that at 34 years old Ovechkin is in the company of the best goal scorers of all-time, and by seasons end he could pass Mike Gartner for 7th all time. He’s a machine for sure.
Speaking of Mike Gartner, the former Ranger/Capital notched his 700th goal when he was 37 and in his last season. That year Gartner only scored 12 goals in 60 games. Brett Hull notched his 700th when he was 38. Hull played one more full season after that season than after the lockout played 5 games. Jaromir Jagr was 42 when he reached that mark and had one more 20 goal season after that before he would leave the NHL again. Marcel Dionne was 36, Phil Esposito was 37. Red Wing great Gordie Howe was 40 when he potted his 700th goal.
Point is Ovechkin has plenty of time.
Ovechkin isn't past his prime yet. He's still one of the elite players in the NHL. He still averages 20 minutes and the Capitals offence still hinges on him. They recently re-sign Niklas Backstrom for a 5-year contract extension, and with the emergence of Evgeny Kuznetsov Ovechkin will have the talent around him that will give him an extra boost to keep on track.
Ovie can still catch up to David Pasternak for the league lead in goals, being only 3 goals back. He also has a good chance of hitting another 50 goal season. The man with the most Rocket Richard trophies would have the greatest honour in breaking Gretzky's record. Ovechkin has won every big award you can win, his biggest challenge was winning the Stanley Cup and he did just that. Years of disappointments and early exits. Ovechkin finally took Stanley home, while winning the Conn Smythe.
Breaking one of Gretzky's more unbreakable records is in Ovechkin’s reach. It's not an easy feat, he still can win another cup while going for the “Great One's” record. Only 194 more to go!