Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for Alex Ovechkin to chase down Wayne Gretzky's all-time goals record, Jaromir Jagr believes the Russian sniper can still make history.
"Earlier I thought Ovechkin doesn't have any chances to break Gretzky's goal record," Jagr said Monday, according to NHL.com. "It was six years ago. But Alex has changed and became a better and more effective hockey player than he was in (his) youth. I think he works harder now. He'll be able to (break Gretzky's record) if he can stay healthy and keep working as hard as (he is) now."
Ovechkin sits 188 goals behind Gretzky's record of 894. With 48 tallies in 68 games last season, Ovi was on pace for nearly 58 goals before the pandemic-induced hiatus.
If the NHL conducts a 48-game campaign this season, "The Great Eight" - who scored 32 goals during the lockout-shortened 48-game campaign in 2012-13 - should be able to notch around 30 tallies.
Assuming he gets to 30 this coming season and the NHL gets back to 82-game campaigns beginning in 2021-22, here's what Ovechkin would need to average to break the record:
|No. of seasons||Average goals|
Ovechkin, 35, recently said he wants to play a few more seasons in the NHL before ending his pro career with the KHL's Moscow Dynamo. It's hard to imagine him leaving for Russia if the record is within striking distance, though.
Regardless of whether or not he gets the record, Ovechkin could still be considered the greatest goal-scorer ever. During Gretzky's career, the average goals per game was 3.5. During Ovechkin's, it's been 2.85.
Additionally, Ovechkin has averaged 0.69 era-adjusted goals per game (56.6 per 82 games) compared to Gretzky's 0.50 (41 per 82 games), according to Hockey Reference.
If Ovechkin can find the fountain of youth that Jagr did and stay healthy, the record could be his.