Congratulations, Alex Ovechkin, on 500 Career Assists

Posted January 25, 2018

I PASS!!!! BEST :)))))))))))))))))))))

Alex Ovechkin notched his 500th career assist on Thursday, becoming only the second Washington Capitals player to do so after longtime center, Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovechkin’s assist totals were very high earlier in his career, as he averaged about 52 a season in his first six seasons. That’s where the bulk of these came from – 313 in 475 games. Since then, he’s had 187 in 495 games. His career low in a season was a puzzling 21 in 2015-16, but he’s rebounded since then. That said, he averaged nearly twice as many assists in a season in the first half of his career than the second half (his goal scoring average hasn’t dropped nearly as much).

Ovechkin will always be known first and foremost as a goal scorer, the best of this generation of players.  With each passing year and with his goal totals remaining consistently among tops in the league, his passing skills will mainly be remembered from his assist totals, not from too many highlight reels. Lately, while he sometimes resists his shoot-first mentality and feeds an open teammate in the right place, most of his assists have been secondary, if not coincidental (like from a deflected shot or rebound). That’s not a bad thing – all players benefit from those – but more a reflection of his being on the ice with Backstrom and other offensive threats who get space as defenders cheat his way.

That said, the 500 assists is still way more than most players will get, and that’s too high a number to be artificially inflated with so-so passing, even in the second half of his career. If anything, Backstrom’s assist totals are inflated by Ovechkin’s scoring. Backstrom could easily have a hundred fewer career assists if he had been paired up alongside an ordinary first line winger instead of Ovechkin, despite being a phenomenal passer (Ovechkin, meanwhile, is a phenomenal goal scorer even without Backstrom).

After notching his 500th career assist, Ovechkin scored his league-leading 30th goal of the season, just three fewer than he had all of last season. Of course, he only did that to take away the emphasis on this 500 assist milestone, and back to where it belonged. Ha.

Another view:

Approaching 500 Assists, Alex Ovechkin Remains an Underrated Passer

From two years ago:

What Happened to Alex Ovechkin’s Assists?