Forecasting The Climb: An Updated Projection For Alex Ovechkin’s Road to 895 Goals

After Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin entered the elite company of players who scored 800 goals in the NHL in Wednesday’s tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks, it has become clear that it’s a matter of when, not if,  The Great Eight breaks Wayne Gretzky’s long-standing goals record of 894.

Ovechkin has solidified himself as the top era-adjusted goal scorer in NHL history already, and he’s looking to solidify his path into hockey greatness by netting at least 895 goals before his playing days end.

In this post, we’ll make three routes of projecting when Ovechkin could break the all-time Goals Scored record: his current Goals Per Game rate, his career average goals per game rate, and his career low goals per game rate. This will give us insight into just how fast Ovechkin can accomplish his goal from today. The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Hockey Reference.

Goals Per Game Rate Through Ovechkin’s Entire Career

Before we get into the projections, it’s important to explain the methodology for how we get to each route of projecting how many games it’ll take for Ovechkin to both tie and break Gretzky’s goal record of 894. Below is Ovechkin’s goal per game (GPG) rate over the entirety of his career so far:

Ovechkin is currently scoring at a 0.63 GPG rate so far this season, netting 20 goals through 32 games played. When averaging out his entire career’s GPG, he’s sitting at 0.61. It’s impressive enough that he’s 37-years old and scoring over his career GPG. As you can see in the 2016-17 season, Ovechkin posted his career-low in GPG. Since Father Time is undefeated, we’re going to be using Ovechkin’s career-low as a conservative control on the projections that’ll follow in this piece. Most impressively, Ovechkin has only had a GPG pace under 0.5 three times in his storied career.

How many games will it take to tie and break Gretzky’s record?

Not to play spoiler here, but all three projections will have Ovechkin passing Gretzky before his current contract expires after the 2025-26 season. Here’s how it all breaks down:

In the most aggressive route taken in this methodology, if Ovechkin continues to score at the GPG pace we’ve seen so far through 32 games played this season, he’ll tie Gretzky’s record about 17 games into the 2024-25 season, and will break it about 19 games into the same season.

For his career average pace of 0.61 GPG, Ovechkin will tie Gretzky’s record approximately 22 games into the 2024-25 season, and will break the record approximately 24 games into the same season.

For his career-low pace of 0.4 GPG, Ovechkin will tie Gretzky’s record approximately 21 games into the 2025-26 season, and will break Gretzky’s record approximately 24 games into the 2025-26 season.

Now for the fun part: just how many goals can Ovechkin score through the end of his current contract? Here’s how the same GPG paces pan out in terms of total Goals Scored over the next 50 games of this season and the three full seasons after that:

There’s a very real chance that Ovechkin will enter a league of one by the end of his contract after the 2025-26 season: the only player in NHL history to score over 900 goals in their career. It’s rather unlikely that Ovechkin continues to score at a GPG pace over 0.6 for the remainder of his career, but unless he falls off a cliff next season, 900 goals is almost a certainty.

By Justin Trudel

About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
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2 Responses to Forecasting The Climb: An Updated Projection For Alex Ovechkin’s Road to 895 Goals

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    It was a few years ago when I did some research as to whether it was possible for an “older” player to maintain the goal productivity that Ovi would need to pass Gretzky. I had calculated that if Ovi could keep up with the goal productivity of former Bruins’ great, Johnny Bucyk from ages 35-40, he’s pass Gretzky. Bucyk had 50 goals at age 35 and 40 goals at age 37. If he continues to keep up with Bucyk, the record is his. (Bucyk scored more goals after turning 30 than he did before age 30.

  2. Helmar Prent says:

    Hockey Reference’s Adjusted Goals, Assists and Points stats have a major flaw l in that Howe’s numbers are reduced by 14% due to a Roster Size Adjustment (RSA). Rosters during Howe’s career had 15 skaters vs present day of 18. The RSA assumes incorrectly that the additional 3 skaters would score 14% (or 3 divided by 18) of a team’s goals. The additional 3 skaters were typically 2 additional 4th line forwards and a sixth defenceman who get very limited ice time and what ice time they would get would be defensive, checking and penalty killing roles (certainly not any power play time). It is simply invalid to assume these 3 skaters would account for 14% of a team’s goals. I doubt these 3 additional skaters would cause any reduction of a team’s top line’s goals production (or ice time). Without the RSA Howe is the greatest goal scorer of all time. Helmar Prent.

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