Hall of Fame, Hockey, Sports

Alexander Ovechkin is God, Stop Denying It

Alexander Ovechkin became the fifth player in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in his first 10 seasons in the league. Those other players:

  • Mike Gartner: 15 straight 30-goal seasons to start his career, 1979-1994
  • Wayne Gretzky: 13 straight, 1979-1992
  • Mike Bossy: 10 straight, 1977-1987 (i.e. his whole career)
  • Jari Kurri: 1980-1990

Now, that’s an impressive list – all Hall of Famers, some of the greatest players of all time in the minds of most of us. But what Ovechkin has done is arguably better than what most of those guys (obviously not one of them) has done. And here’s why.

Below are the “adjusted” goals of each player’s first ten seasons. To learn what “adjusted” means, see Hockey Reference.

Adjusted Goals Mike Bossy Mike Gartner Wayne Gretzky Jari Kurri Alex Ovechkin
First Season 47 30 43 24 52
Second Season 58 37 42 23 48
Third Season 43 25 68 36 72
Fourth Season 52 30 57 41 59
Fifth Season 47 31 69 57 55
Sixth Season 48 36 58 53 35
Seventh Season 40 41 41 46 43
Eighth Season 46 31 52 36 62
Ninth Season 49 27 33 36 58
10th Season 31 35 45 28 60*
Average 46 32 51 38 53

*Adjusted stats assume the season ended today. I did not take this season into account when averaging out the their seasons.

Now, obviously there is a problem with adjusted stats: they don’t take into account the individual person (his strengths and weaknesses), teammates, acts of god, and the like. But that being said: holy shit. According to this very rough estimate, Alex Ovechkin is better than all these other guys.

Now, I don’t buy that entirely. I am not arguing for a second that Ovechkin is better than Gretzky, or that Gretzky wouldn’t have dominated in this era. Gretzky was obviously a better and more complete player.

But, when we look at counting stats, we always forget about eras, and adjusting for era among this group shows Ovechkin to be, at the very least, the equal of the supposed greatest goal scorers of all time. (Also, it reveals Kurri and Gartner, in particular, to be overrated.)

Let’s drop this “Enigmatic Russian” thing. Ovechkin is one of the best pure goal scorers in league history. He may be the best, for all we know. Accept it already.

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