When Alex Ovechkin signed his five year extension with the Washington Capitals, you had a lot of people with the same thought. It’s time to see if the greatest goal scorer in NHL history (in my opinion at least) can officially become the greatest goal scorer of all time. Ovechkin has, at least, five seasons to score about 160 goals. If you want to be specific he needs 165 goals to become the all time goal king.
When you think Ovechkin and give him five years and “just” 160 goals you have to think that is easily doable. Give him fifty goals in the next three seasons and then all he needs is ten goals in year four.
Then you wake up and realize that Ovechkin is 35-years-old (soon to be 36) and that three straight fifty goal seasons is incredibly unlikely. When you look at history, it tells you that even one more fifty goal season is unlikely. Scoring fifty goals well into your thirties is incredibly rare, done only a few times in NHL history.
I personally think Ovechkin has at least one fifty goal season left in him. If my belief becomes true that will also mean that “The Great Eight” will break another record. Another fifty goal season from Ovechkin means that he will be the oldest player to score fifty or more goals in a season in NHL history.
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The current record is 35-years-old. That was done by Johnny Bucyk back in 1970-71 with the Boston Bruins. Not to discredit that feat at all, but if you would like something a little more recent we can go back to Jaromir Jagr who scored 54 goals in 2005-06 at age 34. Ovechkin turns 36 in the middle of September.
To break this record Ovechkin definitely has some work to do. He will have to fight off the decline that all athletes will face at one point or another in their career. Who knows if he is already at that point, only time will tell us.
For his career Ovechkin averages .60 goals a game. Last season he scored 24 goals in 45 games played. That means for the weird season that was 2021 he scored .53 goals a game. If he played a full 82 game season at that pace he would have scored 43 goals.
However, as we know, Ovechkin missed some time last season. Officially his missed eleven games, kind of more if you consider he missed the majority of a couple of games. If you give Ovechkin 71 games played at the goals per game pace he was at he would have scored about 37-38 goals. That would have been the fewest goals he scored in a full season since he scored 33 in 2016-17.
Missing games could be the reason Ovechkin doesn’t score fifty goals and become the oldest to do so in a season. He has played a lot of games in his career. The miles are adding up. If last season was a full season, as we said earlier, he would have played in just 71 of 82. That would have been the least amount of games he had played in a full and complete season in his career. The next lowest was 72 games played in 09-10.
He’s getting older, and he has been extremely durable throughout his career. Can that continue? As you get older injuries are even harder to avoid. When you do get injured or hurt, they don’t quite heal as easily or quickly.
Thinking about all that as well you have to consider the schedule next season. There is an all-star game next season and it looks like the NHL will be participating in the Winter Olympics. I think it would be a safe assumption to assume Ovechkin wants to play for his country in those games. That means he would unlikely want to play in the all-star game, there is a one game suspension.
Depending on where the Capitals are in the season does Ovechkin “take it easy” during the year? Does he take games off, specifically right before or right after the Olympics? If the Capitals are thinking about winning the Stanley Cup that may be the route they could or should take. If they are not in a dogfight in the season for position maybe you consider resting your 36-year-old superstar who just played in the Olympics?
We’re probably getting ahead of ourselves here. This is likely an argument we could have in a few months. But, this is a reality we could face.
And, if we do face that reality, it could prevent a fifty goal season from Ovechkin. And if that prevents a fifty goal season it could prevent a record from being made.
However, it would probably be foolish to bet against Alexander Ovechkin. There is a record at stake here. While everyone is focusing on 895, this season, focus on 50. If he gets there, it’s just another feather in the cap of the greatest goal scorer in the history of the game.