Alex Ovechkin career goal tracker: How close is the Capitals captain to breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record

There is only one name left for Alex Ovechkin to catch atop the NHL all-time goal leaderboard, and it’s the greatest one of them all. 

One of the most exciting races in the NHL for this season is Ovechkin’s chase to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. The Great One’s mark of 844 has stood for over nearly three decades, and it was thought to be unbreakable. However, the Washington captain has emerged as a serious threat to dethrone Gretzky. 

For the first time in his career, there is no one between Ovechkin and Gretzky on the all-time list. He passed Gordie Howe for second place last year, breaking Gretzky’s record for the most 40-goal seasons in the process. 

The Capitals star remains one of the game’s most dangerous goal scorers. His signature one-time slap shot from the left dot continuing to terrorize goaltenders, even as he enters his 19th season in the league.

While Ovechkin is knocking on the door, it’s highly unlikely he breaks the record this season. Heading into this year, he’s more than 70 goals behind Gretzky, however, he can continue to cut the deficit significantly. 

MORE: NHL predictions for the 2023-24 season, including playoff projections, Stanley Cup pick

It feels more like when, not if the Great 8 breaks the Great One’s record at this point, but the 38-year-old Washington winger still has his work cut out for him.

Here is a look at where Ovechkin stands with regard to Gretzky’s career goal record. 

All stats updated through as of Oct. 10, 2023

NHL all-time goals leaders

Gretzky surpassed Gordie Howe for the goals record with No. 802 on March 23, 1994. It occurred in the second period at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., when Gretzky put the puck past Canucks goalie Kirk McLean to break the record, which had stood for 14 years.

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Nearly 30 years later, Gretzky remains in first. For as close as Ovechkin is, he is still more than 70 goals away from Gretzky, who scored his last goal on March 29, 1999.

Most career goals in NHL history

Wayne Gretzky Oilers, Kings, Blues, Rangers 894
Alex Ovechkin Capitals 822
Gordie Howe Red Wings, Whalers 801
Jaromir Jagr Penguins, Capitals, Rangers, Flyers, Stars, Bruins, Devils, Panthers, Flames 766
Brett Hull Flames, Blues, Stars, Red Wings, Coyotes 741

Most goals in an NHL season

Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1981-82 92
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1983-84 87
Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 1990-91 86
Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins 1988-89 85
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins 1970-71 76
Alexander Mogilny Buffalo Sabres 1992-93 76
Teemu Selanne Winnipeg Jets 1992-93 76

Will Alex Ovechkin catch Wayne Gretzky?

Gretzky holds a ton of records in NHL history, many of which will never be broken. But his career goal record is one that is certainly at risk. 

As he begins the 2023-24 NHL season, Ovechkin is 72 goals away from matching Gretzky’s mark of 894. For his career, the Capitals captain is averaging 0.61 goals per game, meaning at that rate, he would score 50 goals in an 82-game season, a feat that Ovechkin is very familiar with. 

It’s highly unlikely that Ovechkin breaks the record this year. No one has scored 70 goals in a season since 1993, and the Caps captain has a single-season, career-high of 65 goals. 

If Ovechkin stays healthy and is able to produce at his career average, it looks like he would pass Gretzky at some point during the 2024-25 NHL season. His contract with Washington does not expire until 2026, at which he will be 41 years old. 

The Great 8 has stayed healthy for the majority of his career, so if we had to make a guess here at The Sporting News, we would say that Ovechkin does pass Gretzky as the NHL’s all-time goal leader. 

MORE: Ranking the NHL’s top 50 players for the 2023-24 season

How many goals does Alex Ovechkin have?

Ovechkin enters the 2023-24 season with 822 career goals. 

The Great 8 posted 42 tallies last year. He entered that campaign third on the all-time list, but passed Gordie Howe for sole possession of second place. 

He also broke Gretzky’s record for the most 40-goal seasons, securing his 13th campaign by reaching the milestone in March of the 2022-23 season. 

Alex Ovechkin career stats

Ovechkin has made scoring goals look easy in the NHL ever since he arrived in North America from Russia. In his rookie season, he put up 52 goals, finishing four shy of the Sharks’ Jonathan Cheechoo for the Rocket Richard Trophy. However, he did earn the Calder as Rookie of the Year.

The Great 8 has gone on to win the Rocket Richard Trophy nine times, including hitting the 50-goal mark nine times in his career. No other player has won the award more than twice. 

2005-06 81 52 0.64 54 106
2006-07 82 46 0.56 46 92
2007-08* 82 65 0.79 47 112
2008-09* 79 56 0.71 54 110
2009-10 72 50 0.69 59 109
2010-11 79 32 0.41 53 85
2011-12 78 38 0.49 27 65
2012-13* 48 32 0.67 24 56
2013-14* 78 51 0.65 28 79
2014-15* 81 53 0.65 28 81
2015-16* 79 50 0.63 21 71
2016-17 82 33 0.40 36 69
2017-18* 82 49 0.60 38 87
2018-19* 81 51 0.63 38 89
2019-20*^ 68 48 0.71 19 67
2020-21 45 24 0.53 18 42
2021-22 77 50 0.64 40 90
2022-23 73 42 0.56 33 75

Won the Rocket Richard Trophy
^ Co-winner with David Pastrnak

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