Alex Ovechkin entered the season having won four straight Rocket Richard trophies as the league’s top goal scorer, and it doesn’t appear as though he has any intention of falling out of the running for the hardware in 2016-17.
Though he’s three goals off the league lead right now, the always-lethal Ovechkin, 31, showed exactly why he’s chasing down his fourth-straight 50-goal season. Breaking into the Rangers’ zone Saturday night, Ovechkin went one-on-one with New York defenseman Marc Staal and made a quick move that spun Staal almost completely around.
Ovechkin’s first move, a toe-drag to the inside, made an already-pivoted Staal commit to turning to his left, at which point Ovechkin pushed the puck back to the outside and wasted no time letting go of a blistering wrist shot that beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist over the blocker:
Ovechkin’s goal was his third in five games and puts him on pace for 49 on the year, and if ever an early season pace was accurate — or even selling a player short — it would be Ovechkin’s current scoring rate. Only four times in his 11-year career has Ovechkin failed to reach the 50-goal plateau, and one of those “down” years was a 46-goal campaign in 2006-07.
If Ovechkin can reach the 50-goal plateau this season, he’ll finish the 2016-17 campaign with 575 career goals, which is an almost unthinkable 12-season total for a modern-era player. Ovechkin will also be rocketing up the all-time goal scoring ranks this season, too. By the time he nets his 542nd goal, Ovechkin will become the 30th-highest goal scorer of all-time, and netting a 575th goal would put Ovechkin in 21st all-time.
Including this season, Ovechkin has five years remaining on his 13-year deal, and if he continues his career pace of 48 goals per season over these next five seasons, he’d have netted 765 goals before he reaches free agency. The only players who Ovechkin might not be ahead of on the all-time scorers list by that point are Jaromir Jagr, Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.
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