For over two decades, Wayne Gretzky has sat atop the mountain as hockey’s preeminent scorer with 894 goals accomplished over 20 NHL seasons. And it seemed, until recently, that mark would never be broken. But with Alex Ovechkin experiencing a career resurgence—he’s found the net 22 times this season, second to only Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl—Gretzky’s record is suddenly in danger. In fact, Gretzky himself fully expects the Capitals veteran to overtake him as the league’s all-time scoring king, believing it will happen sooner rather than later.
“It’s not even a question that he will pass me and I think it’s great,” Gretzky, now a studio analyst for TNT, shared with David Waldstein of the New York Times. “He’s well on his way to 40 or 50 goals this year, maybe more.”
Selected by Washington as the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, the Russian-born forward passed Brett Hull for the fourth-most goals in league history earlier this year and needs just 14 more to tie Jaromir Jagr for third on that list. The 36-year-old has Gretzky firmly in his sights, trailing the Great One by 142 goals with no sign of slowing down any time soon. While Gretzky’s overall points record remains safe, Ovechkin seems well on his way to becoming the first player to net 900 career goals.
“I’m his biggest fan,” says Gretzky of Ovechkin, who signed a five-year contract this summer that will keep him in Washington through his age-40 season. “There is no doubt that ultimately, he will break the record.” Washington has had its last two games postponed due to COVID, though Ovechkin and the Caps are tentatively expected to resume play Monday night against Ottawa.