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Ovechkin vs. Gretzky: A Goal-By-Goal Journey to Hockey Immortality

Credit: Larry MacDougall & John Locher/AP


There is only one name left for Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals to catch atop the NHL’s all-time leaderboard, and it’s the greatest of them all, Wayne Gretzky. 

The most exciting race that has captured the attention of NHL fans for the past couple of seasons, is Alex Ovechkin’s quest to be permanently etched in the history books of the hockey world and surpass “The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, for the all-time NHL scoring record.


A record that has seemed so untouchable on top of his other 58 NHL records for the past 24 seasons since Gretzky retired in 1999, is finally within reach for “The Great Eight” Alex Ovechkin. 


Gretzky finished his 20-season career with 894 NHL goals, sitting miles ahead of the competition and setting a record that cemented his legacy as the greatest of all time. For a while, Detroit Red Wings legend, Gordie Howe, sat in second place behind Gretzky with a career total of 801 goals in his 26-season NHL career. However, Ovechkin passed Howe last season when he scored his 802 career goal against the Winnipeg Jets, leaving no one in between Gretzky and Ovechkin on the all-time goal list. 


Despite Ovechkin being 38 years of age and nearing the end of his NHL career, he still remains one of the game’s most dangerous goal scorers. His signature one-time slap shot from the left dot continues to terrorize goaltenders, even in his 19th season in the league. While it’s highly unlikely that Ovechkin will break the record this season, he’s poised to continue to cut away at the deficit and finally surpass Gretzky in the 2024-2025 NHL season. 


While Ovechkin got off to an extremely slow start this season under his standards, scoring just 8 goals in the first 43 games of the season, he has recently returned to his vintage Ovechkin form, scoring six goals in six games and getting back on the horse, edging closer towards the record. He now sits with 836 career goals, sitting just 58 goals behind Gretzky. His resurgence this season showcases the unwavering tenacity that has defined his legendary career.



Credit: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images


The Russian phenom who was drafted by the Washington Capitals with the first pick in the 2004 NHL draft, has demonstrated his loyalty and stuck with the Capitals for his entire 19-season career. For the organization that drafted him, Alexander the Great has shattered numerous league and franchise records. He also brought the Capitals their sole Stanley Cup in 2018, where he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most outstanding player in the finals as he scored at least one point in each game of the championship series.


On top of the Conn Smythe, Ovechkin has won three Hart Trophies, the Calder Trophy, three Richard Trophies and three Ted Lindsay Awards. 


Ovechkin holds numerous league records as well. He has the most NHL goal-scoring titles with nine, the NHL record for the most empty-net goals with 57, the most goals scored for a single team with 836, most career overtime goals with 26, most career 30-goal seasons with 17, most career 40-goal seasons with 13, most career 45-goal seasons with 12 and most career 50-goal seasons with 9. 


Ovechkin was a star as soon as he stepped foot in the league. He was a goal-scoring machine right off the bat and put the league on notice with his talent and scoring abilities. 

A year after Ovechkin was drafted, Canadian hockey legend Sidney Crosby was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crosby and Ovechkin's names have been tied for their entire careers. The two players separated themselves from the rest through their generational talents and have been compared on numerous levels for years. Some say Crosby is a better overall player, however, he comes nowhere near Ovechkin’s goal-scoring abilities. Crosby currently sits with 578 career goals, 258 behind Ovechkin - further proving how dominant Ovechkin has been in terms of goal-scoring throughout his entire career.



Credit: Nick Wass/AP


While yes, achieving this monumental feat of surpassing Wayne Gretzky for the most NHL goals all-time will not give Alex Ovechkin the title of “The GOAT”, it certainly puts him next to Gretzky on the Mouth Rushmore of Hockey, cementing his legacy as a top-five hockey player of all time. 


It is basically physically impossible to surpass Wayne Gretzky as the greatest of all time. Throughout his career, Gretzky won the Hart Trophy nine times, the Art Ross Trophy ten times, the Lady Byng Trophy four times and the Conn Smythe Trophy twice. He is the NHL’s all-time leading point scorer with a ridiculous 2,857 points and the only player in NHL history to reach 2,000 career points, a feat he achieved in just 11 seasons. He tallied 382 career playoff points which is 100 more than any other player, and was the leading scorer in six international tournaments with Team Canada. 


When all of Gretzky’s achievements and awards are put into perspective and his talent is truly appreciated for all that he has completed, the fact that anyone is coming close to any of his ridiculous records is absolutely astounding. This also puts into perspective just how great of a talent and goal-scorer Alex Ovechkin truly is. 


When it is all said and done and Ovechkin has surpassed Gretzky’s all-time scoring record, perhaps he too will finally get the recognition he deserves as the greatest goal scorer of all time, and one of the greatest talents hockey has ever seen.



Edited By: Josh Reidelbach



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