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Ovechkin can catch Gretzky after scoring No. 700 for Capitals, greats say

Hall of Fame players, Commissioner Bettman weigh on forward's chances of passing 894 goals

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Now that Alex Ovechkin has become the eighth player to score 700 NHL goals, the next question is whether the Washington Capitals forward will break Wayne Gretzky's record of 894. 

Here's what some prominent figures from around the NHL are saying about Ovechkin's chances:

 

[RELATED: Complete Alex Ovechkin 700 goals coverage]

 

Wayne Gretzky, NHL record 894 goals, 1999 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"I'm a big believer that records are made to be broken. What I accomplished, I'm very proud of. It's hard to do what I did and it's really hard to do what he's doing now. But there's no question in my mind that he has a real legitimate chance of doing it. The two things that you need, you've got to: A, stay healthy, and he's proven that over his career. He plays hard and he stays healthy. And, secondly, you've got to be on a good team, and he plays on a good team. For my success, I had to play with good players, and he plays with good players and that, obviously, helps."

Tweet from @WayneGretzky: Congrats on 700 Alex, @ovi8! You���re truly one of the all-time greats. See you at 800 @NHL

 

David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins forward

"You never know with Ovi, right? He could do that. I don't know. My guess would be probably not, but he's definitely going to hit 800 I would say."

 

Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

"It's exciting. It's a testament both to Wayne's record that it seems to have been unapproachable until now, and it's a testament to Alex Ovechkin and his amazing career so far and one that we hope continues for a number of years. Obviously, his longevity, and he seems to be in great shape, will be a factor as to whether or not he can ultimately achieve that record."

 

T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals forward

"I think he has a good chance to. You look at the pace he's at now, I think it's going to come down to what he wants to do and how long he wants to play, but if he keeps working and stays at the pace he's at, I think you look at the numbers, I think he can do it."

 

Brett Hull, 741 goals, 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"Yeah. Obviously, if he wants to keep playing, if he stays healthy and things, I don't see why not. And Wayne would be the first guy to tell you that he'd be the first guy to shake his hand if he did."

 

Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres forward

"I think he has a chance, yeah. I can't imagine him not playing more than four more years and getting 50 goals a year, so it doesn't seem like he's slowing down at all. Nowadays you look at the goalies … and you see how big they are and how big they look in their gear and how hard it is to score in this league. I think it just makes such a statement about what he's doing. You know that doesn't take away from what people did before because we're using composite sticks and they didn't and there's so many different variables that go into it. I think nowadays speaking for his consistency year in and year out of scoring and being able to do it, and you know other teams knowing what you know what he's going to do and he still does it, I think it's just so impressive." 

 

Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues forward

"It's going to be tough. I'm excited to see it. It's good for the game. Obviously, he's one of the greatest goal-scorers of all time, Ovi. I hope he does it. It's tough to say. If one guy can do it, it's him."

 

Marcel Dionne, 731 goals, 1992 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"Wayne's got 894? Why not? He's 34 years old, right? He'll play to 40, for sure, no injuries. I don't see a slowdown. But it depends on if he still is consistent. He cannot afford to have a 25-goal season. But you know what? Make it interesting. That's all I can say. It's fun."

 

Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks forward

"I think he for sure can catch him. It depends on the health and everything. We know he was talking about having a couple more years on his contract, so it depends on him, how does he feel. It seems for him it's still easy to score 30, 40 goals per year. So, if he just keeps playing, stays healthy, I think he can do it. But it's up to him if he wants to play a couple more years, but he's got for sure the potential to do it."

 

Mike Gartner, 708 goals, 2001 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"Yeah, he does have a chance. Players come along, and without a doubt Alex has all of the tools to make that happen. … Wayne Gretzky just by the sheer numbers is the greatest goal-scorer ever. He scored 894 goals, so you still have to say that he is the greatest goal-scorer. But if anybody could do it, Alex could do it."

 

Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets goalie 

"I don't see any reason why he couldn't. It depends how long he wants to play. You know he's going to put up anywhere from 40 to 50 goals a year. He's going to be dangerous no matter what his age is or what his team is like. You know he's got a phenomenal team around him and you know he's always going to beat goalies."

 

Martin Brodeur, NHL-record 691 wins and 125 shutouts, 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"He's got to be in the conversation to be the best ever. And to me, his passing ability is really underrated. People forget how good he is. But it's just the sheer power that he has with his shot and how competitive he is and how emotional he gets. It's just a passion for him to score goals, and that's what goal-scorers are. I played with some goal-scorers and it's an art and he's crafted it to the next level. That's why if he stays healthy and if he wants, he'll come close to Gretz or even pass him."

 

Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild forward

"I think so. Man, it doesn't look like he's slowing down, that guy. The way power plays are, how he's set up, his ability to shoot the puck, I think it's reachable."

 

Taylor Hall, Arizona Coyotes forward

"I think he's going to do it. He hasn't slowed down and it looks like that team is going to stick together for a while, and they have some good young pieces that are getting better as well. Whether he's going to keep scoring 50 goals, I don't know, but he certainly looks like a guy that could be a 40-year-old 40-goal scorer. It's pretty cool to watch and it gives you a little bit of hope that you can play at a decent level when you're that age."

 

Dave Andreychuk, 640 goals, 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"My theory is how many more Cups is that? I think if there's another Cup or maybe two, he probably doesn't break it because he's already happy, right? If he is pursuing that Cup dream and he continues to play the way he's playing, I know we all saw the slowdown three years ago, who's talking about the slowdown now? That's not slowing down."

 

Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers forward 

"Everyone's going to doubt him and say there's no way, but every year he comes back with another 30-goal season, so he's not slowing down. I don't doubt that he can break it. He's a goal-scorer. That's what he does. He knows how to get open. He knows how to score goals. I believe that if he wants to play long enough, he definitely could get there."

 

Bryan Trottier, 524 goals, 1997 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"Mathematically, I think there's a chance. It's a high achievement, 700, 600, 500. God bless him. It's impressive, the number of players. Longevity, success, you wish all those things for every hockey player that dons a uniform."

 

Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers forward

"I think he beats him. I'm sure. If he's healthy, 100 percent he beats him. So good luck to him."

 

Rick Tocchet, Arizona Coyotes coach, scored 440 goals over 18 NHL seasons

"Wayne keeps saying he thinks he's going to break it, but Wayne, he's a classy guy. It's amazing. I would have never thought somebody would be chasing down Wayne Gretzky, to be honest with you, but this guy is making it interesting, I'll tell you that."

 

Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings coach

"I think he can do it. I hope he does. It's great for our game to see him. I've always appreciated Ovi's enthusiasm for the game. He's happy to be on the ice. He gets excited to score goals. He wants to go do it again. You know, I see guys in our league, and maybe on our team, that score a goal and they're not that happy about it sometimes. They just go line up again. He gets excited, and I think that can be a catalyst for other people around him. So as long as that excitement stays there, he's still going to have the skill and the shot. He's got a great team around him. I think he can do it."

 

Mark Howe, 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

"Why not? I know it's a difficult thing. You look at some of the numbers that Connor McDavid's putting up. But it's very few and far between and when you get a guy like that. Kudos to the people that buy Caps tickets and go to every game because they get to witness it every night. They're pretty fortunate."

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