On Saturday, the Washington Capitals captain became the second youngest player in the league to reach 700 goals behind only Gretzky, heating up speculation on whether he will be able to break the all-time NHL record.
Gretzky netted his whopping 894 goals in 1,487 games over a 20-year career while competing for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers during the sport’s highest-scoring era.
Caps left winger Ovechkin, who is now 194 goals away from breaking the record, would need to score an average of around 39 goals for the next five seasons to take a shot at the milestone.
Ovechkin, who is 34 now, scored his first NHL goal in October 2005, extending his scoring record to 700 over 15 NHL seasons. He hasn’t missed a single game to injury since 2016.
Gretzky, who retired in 1999 at age 38, admitted that the Russian star has a ‘legitimate chance’ to rewrite NHL record history.
“I’m a big believer that records are made to be broken,” Gretzky told NHL.com at the All-Star Game. “What I accomplished, I’m very proud of. It’s hard to do what I did, and it’s really hard to do what he’s doing now. But there’s no question in my mind that he has a real legitimate chance of doing it.”
Ovechkin has been cautious in his predictions, constantly saying that he should concentrate on avoiding injuries rather than beating records. He acknowledged, however, that beating the record would mean a lot to him, joking that he would immediately retire if he manages to surpass Gretzky’s achievement.