Alex Ovechkin keeps climbing up the NHL all-time goal-scoring list, and many have debated whether he can surpass Wayne Gretzky's 894-goal record.
With Ovechkin currently 196 goals off Gretzky's mark, his teammate and fellow countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov believes he can become the league's most prolific goal scorer of all time.
"As long as he stays healthy, I think he can play four more years for sure," Kuznetsov said in an interview with NBC4 Sports. "For him, 200 more goals, that's probably four years."
Kuznetsov's math is nearly spot-on. Before this season, Ovechkin averaged 47 goals per year. And even in his age-34 season, the Capitals' captain hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
Ovechkin continues to light the lamp, scoring 40 goals through 53 games this season, including a recent stretch of 14 scores in his last seven outings. If he can sustain the current scoring pace he's on this season, he would eclipse the 60-goal plateau — something he has achieved only once in his illustrious career, and that came in the 2007-08 season.
For people outside the Capitals' organization, it's easy to watch and marvel as Ovechkin continues his dominant career. But for his teammates, Kuznetsov said it's sometimes difficult to capture his greatness because of the camaraderie they share with him on and off the ice.
"When I'm going to be retired, I'm going to share some stories about him like people sharing about Wayne Gretzky, when they played with him," Kuznetsov said. "For us, it's just normal to see him every day. And for some people, [it's] just different, right? They look at him like Jesus."
Russian hockey players are among the group that idolizes Ovechkin's greatness. Kuznetsov said he believes that kids from Russia aspire to be just like Ovechkin, and that has a major influence on their hockey pursuits.
"The people back home, the kids back home, they're going to watch. They're going to try to get the same success like you had," Kuznetsov said. "I always believed that if kids have people like Ovi, they can see and they want to be the same."
If Ovechkin does break Gretzky's scoring record like Kuznetsov thinks he can, those young hockey players will have quite the climb to reach Ovechkin's total.
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