Alex Ovechkin’s 700th Goal Puts Him Within Striking Distance of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL Record

After netting his 700th career tally, The Great One's mark of 894 goals is within range

Alex Ovechkin scores 700th goal
Alex Ovechkin celebrates his 700th NHL goal, becoming the eighth man to score that many times.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
By Luis Paez-Pumar / February 23, 2020 1:57 pm

Alex Ovechkin is already firmly entrenched in NHL lore, and on Saturday, his legend only grew, with the Washington Capitals star becoming the eighth man in NHL history to score 700 goals.

Here’s the third-period tally against the New Jersey Devils that sent him into the record books:

While a great accomplishment in its own right, the man nicknamed “Ovi” now has his eyes set on a new mark: 894.

That’s how many goals the iconic Wayne Gretzky scored in his career, an NHL record that no one has come particularly close to reaching; second place is Gordie Howe, with “only” 801.
But no one before or since the Great One has been as prolific as Ovechkin for so long: his .607 goals per game put him at second place all-time in that category, behind Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux, who had his career cut short by cancer.

Ovechkin’s per-game tally is just above Gretzky’s (.601), and given his ironman status — he hasn’t missed a game since 2016 — he has as good a chance as anyone will ever get to pass him. According to ESPN, if he were to keep up his goal tally and not miss any games, Ovechkin would top Gretzky in 2023-2024, his age-38 season. (Gretzky retired at 38.) And if he were to slow down to only half a goal per game, he would still pass Gretzky the following year.

Whether he does pass Gretzky or not, Ovechkin’s success over his career has made it a bigger possibility than ever before that the NHL will have a new goal-scoring king. Gretzky himself acknowledged the possibility during All-Star Weekend in January, offering his encouragement for the Capitals star:

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. The two things that you need; you’ve got to stay healthy, and he’s proven that over his career. He plays hard and he stays healthy. And, secondly, you’ve got to be on a good team — and he plays on a good team.

Ovechkin is currently third in the league with 42 goals, so he’s not slowing down in any way as he hits his mid-30s. If he continues this pace, the NHL will call Ovi its greatest scorer of all time sooner than later.

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