Could Alex the Great ever score as many goals as the Great One?
Wayne Gretzky, who owns the NHL record with 894 goals, told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen that if any current player can do it, it’s Alex Ovechkin.
Martin Brodeur, who will have his jersey retired tonight in Newark, told CSNMidAtlantic.com over the weekend that the “sky’s the limit” for how many goals Ovechkin can score.
Through 809 games, Ovechkin has 505 goals.
"You know, this is going to sound funny, and I don't mean this to sound egotistical, but the first 500 are the easy ones,” Gretzky told NHL.com. “It's the next 500, when you're getting a little bit older and your body is a little bit worn down, the travel and physical part of the game catches up to you. I always tease my kids, the first 500 is the easy part. You know though, he's got the one thing that you've got to have to get to 894, you've got to have a passion for scoring goals. He has that passion for scoring goals. People don't realize, even as good as you are, you've got to get to those dirty areas and that's how you're going to score goals, and he does that. For me, I knew it was time to retire because my last year I had nine goals. I had a lot of assists (53), but scoring goals as you get older becomes harder because you know how hard it is and how much it hurts to score goals, and you just let your guard down a little bit as you get older.”
Now 30 years old, Ovechkin averages a goal every 1.6 games. If he maintained that pace, it would take him another 623 games to score his 894th goal. Assuming he played every game in every season, that would put him reaching Gretzky’s milestone sometime during the 2022-23 season at the age of 37. But can Ovechkin still be scoring 50 goals a season at the age of 37 or 38? (There’s an excellent statistical piece about Ovechkin’s goal projections here).
“If he can sustain his pace, there's no question in my mind that he has the ability and the talent and the work ethic to be able to do it,” Gretzky said. “And if he does it, I'll be the first guy there to shake his hand. If there is one guy out there that can do it, there's no question it's him. Records are made to be broken. When Gordie (Howe) got to 802, people probably said, 'Nobody will break that.' For me, at 894, someday somebody will come along to break it. You don't know who it's going to be or how long, but that's what sports are all about. Records are made to be broken. Nobody ever thought someone would break Babe Ruth's record, and along came Hank Aaron. Nobody thought Lou Gehrig's record would ever be beaten, and along came Cal Ripken. That's what sports are all about. That's what excites fans. Alex, no question, he brings people out of their seats and he gets fans excited. He's a guy you pay to go watch play, no question about it."
When Brodeur was asked how many goals he thought Ovechkin could end up with, he provided a little seminar on what it’s like to face his shot. Remarkably, Brodeur allowed only seven goals to Ovechkin in their careers.
“He’s definitely going to end up with a lot more than he has now,” Brodeur said. “He’s a special player. Definitely facing him you had to recognize where he was at all times. Even though you knew where he was, he was still going to beat you. Like Brett Hull, for me they’re really similar. (Ovechkin) is probably a lot more dynamic because he’s able to make a lot more individual plays to score goals. But as far as his shooting capacity, he’s always in that soft area. Even though you know he’s there he’s got that shot. The pucks turn. All these Russian guys. Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk) had the same thing. They have that little toe curve and when they get that shot off, that puck is moving just a little bit and that’s why you see so many pucks just kind of squeaking through goalies, because the pucks are not coming flat. He’s a special player. He’s great for the league. He’s got a great personality and the sky’s the limit. He’s got to stay healthy and he plays the game hard.”