When the Washington Capitals drafted Alexander Ovechkin in 2004; the franchise would never be the same again. There was a lot of hype surrounding the pick. There were even talks that Ovechkin would be the next Wayne Gretzky.
Unfortunately Caps fans had to wait a whole year to watch him play when the NHL lockout cancelled the following season but once he got on the ice for the first time in the nation’s capital, he scored and showed why he had the potential to be one of the great superstars of the NHL. In his 10 years of playing for the Caps, he already has accomplished a lot and there is another milestone on the horizon. With 487 goals as of December 1 he is currently trying to join the 500-goal club. With a legitimate chance of Ovechkin getting that 500th goal this month, I decided to take a look back on his remarkable 10-year career.
Ovechkin made his NHL debut 10 years ago and made his presence felt right from the beginning as he scored two goals in a win against the Blue Jackets on October 5, 2005. When he scored his first goal, Caps broadcaster Joe Beninati said, “Welcome aboard!” In January of that season, he scored his first hat trick against the Ducks. It was an impressive feat but it didn’t compare to what he did three days later against the Phoenix Coyotes. While getting knocked down trying to do a toe-and-drag move and sliding on his back, Ovechkin hooked the puck with one hand on his stick and slid the puck into the net. The rest of the hockey world caught eye and that play would be referred to as simply, “The Goal.” Gretzky saw the goal as he was the coach of the Coyotes at the time. All of this was in his rookie season so there were many more moments to come. He finished with 52 goals and was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year. The goal:
His third season saw him win his first Hart Trophy as league MVP. He also won Lester B. Pearson Award, the Art Ross Trophy and the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. In that 2007-08 campaign, he led the league with 65 goals and 112 points. The biggest story was that he led the Capitals back to the playoffs and was the beginning of the “Rock The Red” era. In his playoff debut he scored the game-winning goal against the Flyers with under five minutes left in Game 1:
The 08-09 season saw Ovechkin reach his 200th goal. He became the fourth player in the NHL to reach that mark in four seasons which he joined Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux. In the playoffs, he helped lead the Caps to a first round win over the Rangers that set up for an epic showdown against rival Sydney Crosby and the Penguins. In Game 2 of that series, Ovechkin had his first career playoff hat trick. The season once again ended with Ovi capturing the Hart and Pearson trophies. He finished with 56 goals. Hat trick goal:
The following season saw Ovechkin score 50 goals in the Capitals best regular season in franchise history, capturing the President’s Trophy. In 2011 and 2012 his season goal numbers dropped but he rebounded in 2013 despite a shortened season due to another lockout. He led the league in goals with 32 and won his third Hart trophy.
In the 2013-14 season, Ovechkin notched his 400th goal in December against the Hurricanes. He led the league that year in 51 goals. Last season, Ovechkin surpassed Peter Bondra as the franchise leader in goals scored in a game against the Canadians. He scored 53 goals and was the sixth time he has scored 50 or more goals in a season.
This season, Ovechkin entered with 475 goals, needing only 25 for his 500th. He was also on a quest to break Sergei Federov’s record for most goals among Russian born players (483). He tied the record on November 7th against the Toronto Maple Leafs and broke the record on November 19th vs. the Dallas Stars:
Now that he has the most career goals of any Russian born player, Ovechkin now embarks on another milestone, 500 goals. With 13 goals to go, he should reach that mark either this month or next month. He is a fun player to watch and he still has much more to accomplish in his career.
By Michael Marzzacco