Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored two goals in a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday to pass Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’ all-time goals scored list. Ovechkin has 802 career NHL goals. Wayne Gretzky is the League’s all-time goals scored leader with 894.
NHL all-time goals leader
Wayne Gretzky: 894
Gretzky set a goal-scoring pace in his first eight seasons that was never seen before. Whereas Howe was the model of consistency over an NHL career that lasted an amazing 26 years, Gretzky was piling up points at a record pace.
How consistent was Howe? He had a 44-goal season at the age of 40 and scored 113 of his NHL goals after he turned 40. Howe spent six seasons in his mid-to-late 40s with the World Hockey Association where he scored 174 goals.
But Gretzky came into the league at another level. He had scored his 100th goal before the end of his second season (age 20) and proceeded to have league leading goal seasons of 92, 71, 87 and 73 in his next four seasons. His 429 goals through six seasons put him over halfway to Howe’s mark.
Gretzky would score 208 goals in his next four seasons to bring his total to 637. He led the NHL with 62 goals in 1986-87 — the last year he would lead the League in goals. From there Gretzky’s pace slowed down considerably with just two more 40-goal seasons and two more 30-goal seasons for the rest of his career.
He passed Howe on March 23, 1994, scoring his 802nd goal with the Los Angeles Kings in a 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Ironically that season would be Gretzky’s final 30-goal season (38) and the final time he led the NHL in points. His final goal would come five years later with the New York Rangers on March 23, 1999 leaving his total at 894.
When will Ovechkin break the record?
Ovechkin is averging about .6 goals/per game over his career.
His pace has been a model of consistency over his 18 years in the NHL. Ovechkin also had a very strong start, scoring 269 goals in his first five seasons, but he’s only scored less than 30 goals once — and that was during the 54-game “CoVID” season in 2020-21. He has had five other 50-goal seasons coming in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2018-19 and 2021-22 (at the age of 36).
Ovechkin’s health and conditioning is also a major asset. In 18 years, Ovechkin has missed just 45 games — less than three games missed per season. The guy just shows up every night.
If he current average sticks, Ovechkin is scoring three goals every five games. That means it would take 165 games for him to reach 895. Assuming he doesn’t miss any games over the next stretch and the NHL doesn’t expand to 84 games yet, Ovechkin should be circling the record around Christmas time of 2024.