Ask Sportsnet Stats: When can Ovechkin break Gretzky’s record?


Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8). (Nick Wass/AP)

With the sports world still on pause due to COVID-19, our Sportsnet Stats team sparked up some interesting conversations on Twitter Thursday night with the help of fan questions.

The questions covered a wide range of topics across the NHL, and our stats team had all the answers.

Here are some of the highlights.

When can Ovechkin break the all-time goals record?

Most of the talk surrounding Alex Ovechkin this season (before the postponement) was about his pursuit of the NHL’s all-time goals record and whether he could surpass Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky, who holds the record with 894 career goals, is 188 ahead of Ovechkin (706). But if he maintains a torrid pace, the Washington Capitals star could feasibly come close.

However, should no more regular-season games be played in 2019-20, it could take Ovechkin a few more years if he averages 35 goals per campaign.

Ovechkin would be 40 years old by Christmas 2025. For clarity, Jaromir Jagr potted 16 goals in 45 games in his age-40 season, which would be a 29-goal pace across 82 games.

Which draft classes reign supreme?

Everyone has likely fallen down Wikipedia rabbit holes looking at previous NHL drafts. This writer has done it countless times.

But when it comes to overall value in a draft class, many point to the amount of NHL games that those players have logged during their careers.

In terms of the overall leader in games played by draft year, that honour belongs to 2003, with a whopping 51,582 combined NHL appearances.

That year was headlined by Marc-Andre Fleury, who was chosen first overall, along with the likes of Eric Staal (No. 2), Thomas Vanek (No. 5), Ryan Suter (No. 7) and Dion Phaneuf (No. 9) in the top 10.

Sometimes teams uncover diamonds in the rough who turn out to be valued draftees outside the first round. When it comes to the latter selections, 1984 seemed to be an excellent year in that regard.

The roller-coasters

The playoffs are a proving ground in the NHL. The regular season becomes irrelevant, especially if a dominant team slips up in the post-season.

The Detroit Red Wings, as incredible as they were in the ’90s and 2000s, also had some disappointing playoff performances. In fact, they own two of the highest regular-season wins totals among teams who failed to win a Stanley Cup in the same campaign.

Then there are individuals who turn heads across the league and capture the Art Ross Trophy, only to miss out on spring hockey. Connor McDavid in 2017-18 is the most recent example, though he’s not the only elite player to end up watching the playoffs on TV.

Even winning a Hart Trophy isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be a Hall of Famer. Just ask these three players below.


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