Throughout his career, Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin has been a consistent goal scorer with longevity being one of his resounding strengths. His productivity in the goal department has remained steady, even into his age-34, in which he has scored 21 goals so far, making it his 15th consecutive season of scoring 20 or more goals.
In total, Ovechkin has scored over 30 goals in all 14 of his previous seasons (will most likely top 30 goals this year), has scored 40 or more goals 10 times (including the last two seasons), and has scored 50 or more goals eight times, including last season. This consistent productivity, even at a relatively advanced age by atheletic terms, is even more notable when compared to his peers born in his birth year of 1985.
Ovechkin has played in more games than any other player born in 1985, an especially remarkable feat considering that nearly two-thirds of the players born that year were drafted in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, a year before the Caps took Ovechkin with the first overall pick in 2004. Additionally, a few players born in 1985 appeared in the NHL during the 2003-04 season. The closest player to Ovechkin in Games Played is Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Ovechkin is the only player born in 1985 who has recorded 1,000 or more points, currently sitting at 1,244. The closest player to that total is Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has 948 points, with no other player born in 1985 having yet topped 900 points. Ovechkin’s 679 goals is far and away the best by any 1985-born player, as no other player has over 400 markers. Additionally, Ovechkin’s 565 assists is second to only Getzlaf, who has 677, with only Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron having more than 500 assists.
Ovechkin’s continued productivity is even more amazing considering that many of his age group peers have greatly slowed in productivity from their prime, with some having retired. In quantitative terms, 141 NHL players were born in 1985 and just 24 are still active. To break it down further, 92 NHL forwards were born in 1985, of which only 11 are still active; 37 defensemen were born in 1985 and just seven are still active. Of 12 goalies born that year, just three are still active
Below is a list of how Ovechkin’s most prominent peers at forward have fared. These peers include both active and retired players.
Patrice Bergeron – Bergeron was drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2003 and has been an important part of the team ever since. Bergeron has been very productive since turning 30, having scored 30 or more goals three times since turning 30, with only one 30-goal season prior. In 2018-19, he tied his career-high in goals and had a career-high in assists, having his best overall season in points as a result. Bergeron could be compared to a fine wine, getting better with age.
Ryan Getzlaf – Since being drafted by the Anaehim Ducks (then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) in 2003, Getzlaf, the team’s captain, has been an important part of the team’s offense, playing a crucial part in the team’s 2007 Stanley Cup championship. Getzlaf has the second-most points among players born in 1985 and the most assists. While Getzlaf’s playing style is more notable for assists than for goals, he has topped 20 goals several times, reaching his career-high of 31 in 2013-14, with his career-high in points coming that same year. Getzlaf’s last 20-goal season was in 2014-15 and his last year of recording at least 50 assists was 2017-18. He had only 48 total points in 2018-19, so there are signs his productivity declining.
Corey Perry — Like Getzlaf, Perry was drafted by the Ducks (then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) in 2003 and played an important part in the team’s offense for many years, before the team bought out his contract after the 2018-19 season, after which he signed with the Dallas Stars. Perry has scored more career goals among players born in 1985 except Ovechkin. Perry scored 50 goals in 2010-11 and 43 goals in 2013-14 and has topped 30 goals several other times, with him last topping 30 goals during the 2015-16 season. However, he has not topped 20 goals since then, recording just six goals and four assists during the 2018-19 season, which prompted the Ducks to buy him out.
Jeff Carter – Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003 and played an important part of the team’s offense for several seasons. Carter was traded after the 2010-11 season to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who traded him at the 2012 trade deadline to the Los Angeles Kings, with whom he has played ever since. Carter’s most productive years as a goal scorer came with the Flyers, but for most of his tenure with the Kings, he has generally topped 20 goals per year, save for 2017-18, when he had just 13 and recorded the same total in 2018-19. A lacerated tendon derailed him for the 2017-18 season and limited him to just 27 games.
Travis Zajac – Zajac was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2003 and has played his entire NHL career in Newark. Zajac scored at least 20 goals and had at least 40 assists during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, but he has not reached his career-highs since. He missed a significant portion of the 2011-12 season due to an Achilles tendon injury and missed the early part of the 2017-18 due to a pectoral injury that needed surgery. Zajac scored 19 goals during the 2018-19 season, his highest total since the 2009-10 season. In recent seasons, he has typically scored between 10-15 goals per year.
Andrew Ladd – Ladd was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2004 and was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2007-08 trading deadline, having never been able to play a full season with the Hurricanes due to injuries and illness. He spent two full seasons with the Blackhawks but was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers before the 2011-12 season. He remained with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise and was very productive, generally scoring in the range 20-30 goals before the Jets traded him back to Chicago at the 2015-16 trade deadline. After that season, he signed a contract with the New York Islanders in free agency. Ladd scored 17 goals with the Isles in 2016-17, but his productivity dropped off to 12 goals the following year, and just three in 2018-19, as he missed much of the season with a torn ACL muscle. Ladd has not played in the NHL in 2019-20 and has spent the season with the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Loui Eriksson – Eriksson was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2003 and played with them through the 2012-13 season, before he was traded to the Boston Bruins before the 2013-14 season, playing in Beantown through the 2015-16 season. He signed with Vancouver as a free agent prior to the 2016-17 season. Eriksson scored between 20-40 goals with Dallas from 2008-09 through 2011-12. Except for 2013-14, he maintained similar production with Boston. However, he has not scored more than 11 goals with Vancouver and has been plagued with injuries during his time with Vancouver.
Paul Stastny – Stastny was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2004 and played with them through the 2013-14 season. He signed with the St. Louis Blues in free agency before the 2014-15 season and remained with the team until 2017-18, when he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline. He then signed a contract with the Vegas Golden Knights in free agency before the 2018-19 season. During his time in Colorado, Stastny generally scored 20-30 goals a season. However, he didn’t score as much with the Blues, but still averaged between 10-20 goals per year and scored 12 goals with Vegas in 2018-19.
Drew Stafford – Stafford was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2004 and played with them through the 2014-15 season when he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in a trade deadline deal. He remained with Winnipeg until he was traded to the Boston Bruins at the 2016-17 trade deadline. He signed with the New Jersey Devils after the 2016-17 season and remained with the Devils for two seasons. Stafford’s best season came in 2010-11, when he scored 31 goals. Additionally, he played three other seasons in which he scored at least 20 goals. Stafford typically scored 14-20 goals a season, until the 2016-17 season, when he scored eight goals and has not topped 10 goals since. His assist totals were generally double digits numbers (between 10 and 30) until the 2016-17 season. Stafford is not currently playing in the NHL.
Ryan Callahan – Callahan was drafted by the New York Rangers in 2004 and played with them through the 2013-14 season, when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He remained with the Lightning through the 2018-19 season, when his contract was traded to the Ottawa Senators. Due to a degenerative back condition, he has been unable to play hockey during the 2019-20 season and is on Long-Term Injured Reserve. Callahan was a productive forward during his tenure with the Rangers, typically scoring 15-25 goals per season. His best season came in 2011-12, when he scored 29 goals, topping 20 goals on three different occasions. He scored 24 goals for Tampa Bay during the 2014-15 season but was unable to reach that number again. Callahan missed much of the 2016-17 season due to injuries, playing in just 18 games.
Mike Richards – Richards was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003 and played with them through the 2010-11 season, after which he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Richards remained with the Kings through the 2014-15 season, after which he became a free agent through a contract settlement. Richards played for the Capitals for much of the 2015-16 season, his last season in the NHL. Richards was a very productive forward during his time with the Flyers, in which time he had three seasons with around 30 goals and between 30-50 assists. He scored 18 goals during his first year with the Kings, but his productivity dropped greatly after that, even spending time in the minor leagues during the 2014-15 season.
Nathan Horton – Drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2003 and played with them through the 2009-10 season. Horton was traded after the 2009-10 season to the Boston Bruins, with whom he played until the 2012-13 season. He signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent, but played only one season due to a degenerative back condition. Horton was a very productive forward throughout his years with the Panthers, consistently scoring between 20-30 goals per year and recording 31 goals during the 2016-17 season. He had several injuries during his tenure with Florida.
Clarke MacArthur – Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2003 and played with them through the 2009-10 season, when he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers. MacArthur signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent and played with the Leafs through the 2012-13 season, after which he signed with the Ottawa Senators and played for the Sens until 2016-17. During the 2014-15 season, MacArthur suffered a concussion and another early in the 2015-16 season, missing 18 months and not returning until the tail-end of the 2016-17 season. He failed his pre-camp physical before the 2017-18 season, which proved to be the end of his NHL career. Prior to his concussion issues, he typically scored double digit goal totals.
Eric Fehr – Fehr was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2003 and played with Washington through the 2010-11 season, after which he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. He returned to the Capitals as a free agent before the 2012-13 season, with his second tour of duty with the Caps lasting through the 2014-15 season, after which he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent. He played with Pittsburgh for nearly two full seasons until he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. After that season, he bounced among several teams, both in the NHL and the AHL. His last NHL season was in 2018-19 with the Minnesota Wild. His career-highs came in the 2009-10 season, when he scored 21 goals and recorded 39 points in 69 games played with the Caps.
Troy Brouwer – Brouwer was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004 and played in the Windy City through the 2010-11 season, after which he was traded to the Washington Capitals. Brouwer remained with the Caps though the 2014-15 season, which was followed by a trade that sent him to the St. Louis Blues along with a draft pick and goaltender Pheonix Copley for T.J. Oshie. After his first season with the Blues, Brouwer signed with the Calgary Flames as a free agent before the 2016-17 season, remaining with the team through 2018-19, after which the contract was bought out. Brouwer played for the Florida Panthers in 2018-19 and is currently playing with the Blues. From 2009-10 through 2015-16, Brouwer scored between 17-25 goals, however his productivity dropped after the 2014-15 season.
Active forwards who were not listed above individually are: Brad Richardson, Marc Letestu, Jay Beagle, Carl Soderberg, and Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare.
The most prominent defensemen born in 1985 are: Brent Seabrook, Ryan Suter, Brent Burns, Dion Phaneuf, Shay Weber, Braydon Coburn, Dustin Byfuglien, Mike Green, Alex Goligoski, and Andrej Meszaros. All are active except Phaneuf and Byfuglien, who is on a leave of absence and may come back after recovering from surgery. Seabrook and Coburn have a more reduced role than in the past.
Over the years, Ovechkin has impressed and wowed many with his productivity and skill, all while chasing and breaking records. When one looks at his productivity combined with his durability, the legend of The Great Eight is much more impressive.
Statistics obtained from NHL.com, Quanthockey.com, HockeyDb.
By Diane Doyle