Photo: Julio Cortez
Alex Ovechkin can score goals. Everybody knows that. His lamp-lighting ability is unmatched in this generation (sorry, Stamkos). And as Ovechkin takes aim for Peter Bondra’s Capitals franchise goal record (472, just 23 away), I asked myself how the Russian machine stacks up against the league’s all-time greats.
Hockey-Reference publishes a list of adjusted career goals leaders. “Adjusted” means that the numbers take into account how difficult it was to score them, the length of the season, roster size, and scoring around the league. Surprisingly, those changes put Gordie Howe and Jaromir Jagr (who has never won the Rocket Richard) above Wayne Gretzky.
Alex Ovechkin currently sits 31st in the rankings (and fourth among active players, behind Jagr, Iginla, and Hossa) as opposed to 59th in the non-adjusted list of the league’s greatest goalscorers. The 29-year-old Ovechkin has already taken first place in adjusted goalscoring among Russians surpassing ex-teammate Sergei Fedorov, who left the NHL at age 39.
Assuming the league’s current average scoring won’t change over the rest of Ovechkin’s career (it hasn’t changed much since 1997-98 aside from a two-year post-lockout spike), Ovi is 356 real (non-adjusted) goals away from the all-time lead in adjusted goals.
Hitting that number would be unlikely. It’d require Ovechkin to score 50 goals per season for the next six years. However, if he can match the longevity of a few other great scorers of our time (Teemu Selanne, Daniel Alfredsson, Marc Recchi, and Ray Whitney– all of whom scored more than 130 goals after turning 35), it doesn’t seem impossible.
If Ovechkin hits the 50-goal threshold again this season, he’ll be at least 25th or 26th in the all-time career adjusted goals list. Gretzky’s third place doesn’t appear to be out of reach; it’s just 202 real goals away from the Great Eight.
It’s entirely possible that by the time Ovechkin decides to hang ’em up, he’ll be considered one of the five greatest goal scorers ever, mentioned in the same breath as Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe, and, yes, Jagr.
Maybe we should be nicer to him.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.