Alex Ovechkin is the already the greatest goal scorer of all time. That’s according to a bit of logical number-crunching and extrapolation conducted by the fine folks at The Ice Analytics Podcast. The analysis is based on the difference in eras that Ovechkin and Gretzky played. More specifically, the difference in the average goalie save percentages for each of the eras.
A Tale Of Two Eras
Wayne Gretzky scored 803 goals in his first 15 NHL seasons. This in an era in which the netminders average save percentage was 88.01%.
Alex Ovechkin has scored 692 goals in his first 14.5 NHL seasons. His goals have come in era in which the netminders average save percentage was 91.06%.
But what if Ovechkin played during the same era as Gretzky?
If Ovechkin Played in The Gretzky Era
Ovechkin has scored an additional six goals per year for every 1% drop in goalie save percentage. Therefore, if Ovechkin played from 1979-1994, he would have scored an estimated 9-21 more goals per year. This would bring his total number of goals to date from 692 to ~936. He would have actually broken Gretzky’s current goal record at the end of last season – in 14 total years.
Additionally, If they had played during the same era – Ovechkin would have passed him in year 10.
The debate regarding the difference in eras is complex. Equipment is better today, for both the skater and the goaltender. The level of competition and parity in the league is at an all-time high, making it a bit more challenging each and every game. However, goal scoring is at an all time high right now. This debate will continue, but Ovechkin could put it to bed for good in just a few more seasons.
Alex Ovechkin is on pace to go from 600 to 700 goals in only 159 games.
It would mark the fewest games to make that leap for any member of the 700-goal club. It also would be the second-fewest games to get from one 100-goal milestone to another in his career. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/jq2Qxh2FxI
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 18, 2020
By Jon Sorensen