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|
*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.