NHL History: 30 best players in the 21st century (Updated 2023)

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Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin : (Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports) /

30 best NHL players of the 21st century: 2. Alex Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin might be the greatest goal scorer in the history of the sport. There is no one in this generation that comes close to him as a pure goal scorer. Ovechkin is such a weapon that he’s kept the Washington Capitals contenders no matter what. His ability to get open-matched with the best shot in the business leads to a minimum of 30 goals every year of his career. Even last season, he was able to score 48 goals in 68 games.

Ovechkin has been incredibly consistent. He has hit the 50-goal plateau eight times. In half of the seasons that Ovechkin has played, he has 50 goals. He’d hit it nine times if last season wasn’t cut short. He’d probably make it ten times if the lockout didn’t shorten the 2012-13 season. Despite all these things out of his control in his way, he still could break Wayne Gretzky’s goal record.

His trophy case is absolutely stacked. He won the Hart Trophy three times. He has four Pearson Awards to his name. The year the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, there was nobody else to give the Conn Smythe to other than Ovechkin. He also won the Calder Trophy when he put up north of 50 goals in his rookie season.

From the moment that Ovechkin made it to the league, he’s been the best goal scorer on planet Earth. There’s no doubt that this competition is between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. There is a wide gap between them and number three. This is the Lemieux-Gretzky conversation for this generation. They will always be connected, but Ovechkin very much deserves to be in the conversation.