Ovechkin Destroying Russian Records

Posted November 19, 2015

(Caps Outsider)

First, congratulations to Alex Ovechkin for becoming the NHL’s all-time leading goalscorer among Russian-born players, after he passed former teammate Sergei Fedorov with the 484th goal of his career on Thursday against Dallas.

But let’s also acknowledge, at 483, Fedorov’s total is relatively low for a career compared to those of other countries, even when excluding the overall leaders. Multiple Finns, Slovaks, Americans and Canadians are WAY ahead of this number, not to mention a Swede and a Czech. Ovechkin’s current total is tied for 48th place all-time with Darryl Sittler, a milestone otherwise hardly worth celebrating. Two more goals and he’ll be in 47th place when he passes Brian Bellows. The only active players ahead of him are Marian HossaJarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr.

To me, it’s befuddling that there wasn’t even one Russian player who put up a higher goal total. It’s true that Russians didn’t play regularly in the NHL until 1992-1993 (Sergei Pryakhin played in 1989 – remember him?), so that leaves only one previous generation of players Ovechkin had to compete with.

Does that make a difference? Sure, but lets also keep in mind that aside from Wayne Gretzky, the top goal scorers from each country played most of their careers alongside Russian players.

Country Player Games Played Goals
Canada Wayne Gretzky 1487 894
USA Brett Hull 1269 741
Czech Republic Jaromir Jagr 1566 729
Finland Teemu Salanne 1451 684
Sweden Mats Sundin 1346 564
Slovakia Peter Bondra 1081 503
Russia Alex Ovechkin  777 484

If anything, it’s hard to believe that players like Fedorov, Alexander Mogilny, Pavel Bure, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexei Kovalev – all great players – didn’t even score 500 goals. Despite that, Russian players collectively are in fourth place for total number of goals scored by nationality. In fact, on average, Russian NHLers in their career average about 53 goals, more than any nation with more than 100 players (Czechs average 51).

Ovechkin will surpass many other goal-scoring milestones in the next ten years. But Ovechkin becoming the all-time Russian-born goal-scorer barely scratches the surface of NHL goal-scoring milestones he’s sure to get. What’ll be really impressive is the record he leaves behind for future Russians to target.