Six years ago, Jaromir Jagr didn’t think Alex Ovechkin had any chance of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894 goals.
He has since had a change of heart. Why? Because despite Father Time, Ovechkin keeps getting better with age.
"Alex has changed and became a better and more effective hockey player than he was in [his] youth,” Jagr, who ranks third on the list and played (somewhat disastrously) for the Capitals from 2001-04, told NHL.com on Monday. “I think he works harder now. He’ll be able to [break Gretzky’s record] if he can stay healthy and keep working as hard as now.”
At age 35, the Capitals captain is currently eighth in NHL history with 706 career goals – 188 goals behind Gretzky. The other six players ahead of Ovechkin are Gordie Howe (801 goals), Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).
Ovechkin is already considered the greatest goal-scorer of the 21st century. He has scored around 50 goals every season since 2013-14 (with the exception of 2016-17 when he scored 33).
In recognition of his prowess, he has won a NHL-record nine Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophies for finishing the regular season as the league’s goal-scoring leader – a fitting honor since Richard was the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season.
Ovechkin is in the final year of the 13-year, $124 million contract extension he signed during the 2007-08 season. A new contract for the Capitals’ franchise player seems like a certainty, especially after he recently expressed his desire to stay in DC for the rest of his NHL career – the only questions are how much money and how long.