Last night, Alex Ovechkin became the Washington Capitals' all-time leader in career points, his assist on Nicklas Backstrom's goal in the first period giving him 826 points as a Capital and pushing him past Peter Bondra as the franchise record-holder.
There has been and will be a lot of commentary on the feat, good and (because it's Ovechkin) bad, but we were interested in how the accomplishment compares to the club Ovechkin just joined - franchise record holders in points. The table below shows the current points record-holder for each of the 30 current franchises in the NHL (numbers compiled from data at hockey-reference.com):
You will note that the record itself is not impressive if compared to those of other franchises. A lot of this is the effect of history. The Caps, while they are celebrating their 40th season, still have been a franchise less than half as long as those such as the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, or Montreal Canadiens. And while Peter Bondra was one of the best goal scorers of his era, he was not enough of a playmaker to compete with the centers that dominate the top of this list.
There is, however, the matter of how quickly Ovechkin secured this record - 691 games, 270 fewer than it took Bondra to achieve his then-record 825 points (961 games). That indicates a prolific points-per-game scoring pace for Ovechkin, and if the table is re-sorted by points-per-game for each franchise's record holder, Ovechkin's achievement is much more impressive:
Only six players, and Guy Lafleur the only winger among them, have better points-per-game marks than Ovechkin among their respective franchise points records. It is also worth noting that of the 29 other franchise record-holders, 16 of them are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here is the list of those who are not, including Ovechkin:
- Mike Modano
- Daniel Alfredsson
- Jarome Iginla
- Patrik Elias
- Teemu Selanne
- Martin St. Louis
- Patrick Marleau
- Henrik Sedin
- Ilya Kovalchuk
- David Legwand
- Rick Nash
- Mikko Koivu
- Olli Jokinen
Much of this group looks like a Hockey Hall of Fame members-in-waiting list (and Modano's absence from the Hall will be corrected in a few weeks). Alfredsson, Iginla, Selanne, and St. Louis are locks for the Hall once they retire; Sedin, Elias, and Marleau are in reach of that category, if they are not already there. One would have to think that Ovechkin, the newest member of the franchise points record-holder club, is close to, if not already, a lock for enshrinement in the Hall.
That is a matter for another day, though. For now, Ovechkin's achievement is one more piece of evidence that for all the naysayers in the hockey commentariat, he is one of the best players of his - or any - generation.