During the NHL’s 100 years, there have been more than 7,500 players. Over two-thirds of those have scored at least one goal. But there are only eight players to have scored 700 or more times.
The elite club includes some the game’s all-time best players. At the top of the milestone mark sits Wayne Gretzky– “The Great One” with 894 goals, followed by legends Gordie Howe (801 goals), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731) Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708). And now, Alex Ovechkin has joined the club.
Ovechkin Joins the 700-Goal Club
It’s only fitting that No. 8, Alex “The Great 8” Ovechkin became the eighth player in NHL history to reach the 700-goal milestone.
Ovechkin has never scored fewer than 32 goals in any of his 15 NHL seasons. In fact, he’s scored at least 42 goals in 11 seasons. Only Wayne Gretzky (12) has more 40-goal seasons in NHL history. This season, Ovechkin’s been on a tear, scoring at well over a 50-goal pace to vault himself through the 700-goal mark.
The Moscow-born sniper has been lighting the lamp in bunches. After recording the 27th of his career last month, Ovechkin surpassed Maurice Richard for the eighth most hat tricks in NHL history . This is the first time in his career he’s recorded four hat tricks in one season.
At this rate, the prolific 34-year-old will eventually catch Mike Gartner (708) and possibly Phil Esposito (717) before the end of this season. The thought of him catching Gretzky’s iconic 894 goal total before he hangs up his skates doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Just like his month-long Stanley Cup celebration that had him doing pushups in water fountains across the greater Washington, D.C. area, the Russian hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down.
While Ovechkin is more than a decade older than David Pastrnak and Auston Matthews, he’s still filling the net regularly. Six more seasons with 35 goals and he’ll be sitting atop the entire NHL, re-writing history as the league’s best ever goal-scorer.
Related: The Best Nicknames in Hockey
Ovechkin has a 0.61 career goals-per-game pace–the highest in NHL history among players to play in at least 1,000 games. In addition, only Gretzky (886 games played) and Hull (1,157 games played) required fewer than 1,200 games to reach the milestone. Ovechkin, 34, joins “The Great One” as the only player to hit the 700-goal mark before age 35.
Their 700th Goals
Alex Ovechkin, 8th Member
Eight-time league leader in goals: 51 (2018-19), 49 (2017-18), 50 (2015-16), 53 (2014-15), 51 (2013-14), 32 (2012-13), 56 (2008-09), and 65 (2007-08).
One-time league leader in points: 112 (2007-08).
Ovechkin’s 700th goal was scored in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. His blast from the right faceoff circle ripped past netminder Mackenzie Blackwood to tie the game, 2-2.
After he scored, Ovechkin kissed his glove (in honor of his late brother Sergei), went to one knee, then pumped both of his arms to celebrate. His teammates mobbed him in a giant mass of head patting and jumping.
The Russian then saluted the crowd during a TV timeout.
“It’s a special moment,” said Ovechkin after the game. “When you get closer you start thinking when it’s going to happen. Finally, it’s over so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. We’re going to move on.”
“It’s always special to be in that category,” continued Ovechkin. “But I would say without my team, without my family, without the fans, the support that I have I would never reach that milestone. We have to continue to create history.”
Jaromi Jagr, 7th Member
Five-time league leader in points: 121 (2000-01), 96 (1999-00), 127 (1998-99), 102 (1997-98), and 70 (1994-95).
Jagr became the seventh player in the NHL to join the 700 Club. Playing for the Devils and in his 20th NHL season, he scored early in the second period during a 6-1 rout of the Islanders on March 1, 2014.
The goal itself was a bit of a fluky play–it went off a defender’s skate. After lighting the lamp with the 19th goal of the season, the 42 year old was immediately surrounded by his teammates on the ice.
“I don’t even know what happened,” Jagr said as he watched the goal on replay. “It was a lucky bounce, no question. I tried to protect the puck and they gave me the middle of the ice. I tried to use it, and as soon as I tried to shoot the puck somebody went down and it went in.
“A lot of goals, you wonder how they went, and a lot of goals they should go in but they don’t,” he added.
“I never considered myself a goal-scorer,” Jagr said after the game in undoubtedly the understatement of the season, “so to reach 700 goals is big for me.”
The Czech Republic Olympian later set up Marek Zidlicky’s power-play goal, his 1,040th assist, tying him with Dionne for ninth place in NHL history.
Brett Hull, 6th Member
Three-time league leader in goals: 70 (1991-92), 86 (1990-91), and 72 (1989-90).
Hull became the sixth NHL player to score 700 regular-season goals when the 38 year old beat San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov with a wrist shot in the second period of a 5-4 Detroit Red Wings victory on Feb. 17, 2003. The milestone goal was a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle after a cross-ice pass from teammate Pavel Datsyuk.
“To be among [the 700 Goal Club] is incredible. I don’t like to compare myself to those guys, because all I do is score goals. Having 700 goals, you’d think I’d have a lot of assists too. But I’m not even at 600 [at the time he had 588],” said the 38 year old, raspy-voiced sniper. “The best thing about my career is the two Stanley Cups I’ve won. When players talk about a guy with big numbers, all they care about is, did he win?”
Hull surpassed the 700-goal mark and 1,300-point mark during the 2002-03 season. He’s the son of the “Golden Jet” Bobby Hull. The two became the only father and son combo in NHL history to each score 1,000 points and are both members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Related: Top 5 Father-Son Duos in NHL History
Mike Gartner, 5th Member
At 38 years old, Gartner became the fifth member of the NHL’s 700 Club on Dec. 14, 1997. Playing for the Coyotes, he scored No. 700, the first of his two goals, in a game in a 3-3 tie with the Detroit Red Wings in Phoenix. His wrist shot from only 12 feet in front of the net beat goalie Chris Osgood.
Like “The Great One,” Gartner got his start in the World Hockey Association before making his debut in the NHL. In ten seasons with the Capitals, Gartner recorded 397 goals.
Garrtner then played for the Minnesota North Stars, Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs before landing in Phoenix to make his final push to 700 with the Coyotes.
Wayne Gretzky, 4th Member
Five-time league leader in goals: 62 (1986-87), 73 (1984-85), 87 (1983-84), 71 (1982-83), and 92 (1981-82).
11-time league leader in points: 130 (1993-94), 163 (1990-91), 142 (1989-90), 183 (1986-87), 215 (1985-86), 208 (1984-85), 205 (1983-84), 196 (1982-83), 212 (1981-82), 164 (1980-81), and 137 (1979-80).
Wayne Gretzky became the fourth member of the 700 Club. The “Great One” scored his 700th goal as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Islanders 6-3 at the Nassau Veteran Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 23, 1991.
Gretzky, 29, backhanded the puck past Isles’ netminder Glenn Healy at 11:48 of the first period. It was the first of three goals scored that evening.
Gretzky is the fastest and youngest player in NHL history to score 700 goals, doing so in 886 games at the ripe age of 29 years and 342 days.
Marcel Dionne, 3rd Member
One-time league leader in points: 137 (1979-80).
Marcel Dionne became the third member of the 700 Club on Oct. 31, 1987. He scored 550 of his 731 career goals with the Kings in his 12 seasons in Los Angeles. His No. 700 came as a member of the New York Rangers in a 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the rival Islanders.
Dionne, 36, netted a power play goal with 33 seconds left in the game by beating Isles’ netminder Kelly Hrudey. It was an amazing accomplishment that’s unfortunately buried in a blowout loss,” Dionne said. “You think of what a perfect goal would be in that situation. This is not a good feeling.”
“It really ticked me off,” admitted Hrudey. “I hate to give up a milestone goal. That’s always going to be beside it [in the record book]. ‘700th goal, scored on Kelly Hrudey. He’s a great player. I like to see him do good things, but I just don’t like to see him do them against the Islanders.”
Phil Esposito, 2nd Member
Seven-time league leader in goals: 61 (1974-75), 68 (1973-74), 55 (1972-73), 66 (1971-72), 76 (1970-71), 76 (1970-71), and 43 (1969-70).
Five-time league leader in points: 145 (1973-74), 130 (1972-73), 133 (1971-72), 152 (1970-71), and 126 (1968-69).
Esposito became the second member of the 700 Club. Goals No. 699 and 700 came as the Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 6-1 in Landover, MD on Feb. 2, 1980.
After a power play goal in the second period, Esposito, 37, joined the 700 Club by wristing a shot past Capitals’ goalie Wayne Stephenson early in the third period.
“The one I remember best of all of those 700 goals was No. 1, against Montreal, when I was with Chicago and Bobby Hull got an assist on it,” said Esposito. “I’ll never catch Gordie. He’ll probably still be playing when I retire.”
Esposito finished his 18-year career in 1981 with 717 goals.
Gordie Howe, 1st Member
Five-time league leader in goals: 38 (1962-63), 44 (1956-57), 49 (1952-53), 47 (1951-52), and 43 (1950-51).
Six-time league leader in points: 86 (1962-63), 89 (1956-57), 81 (1953-54), 95 (1952-53), 86 (1951-52), and 86 (1950-51).
Howe was the first player in NHL history to score 700 goals. The goal came on Dec. 4, 1968, when Howe, playing for the Red Wings, took a pass from Frank Mahovlich and rifled a low shot past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Les Binkley in a 7-2 win.
Howe, 40, didn’t take the time to celebrate and throw a party. “I really believe my first National Hockey League goal provided a bigger thrill,” said Howe.
Howe’s first goal came on Oct. 16, 1946 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished his NHL career, retiring in 1980 with 801 goals at the age of 51.
700-Goal Club: Trivia and Interesting Tidbits
- Howe and Ovechkin are the only members of the Club to be admitted while playing for their original team.
- Only Mike Gartner and Brett Hull scored their 700th goals on home ice.
- Every 700th goal has been scored at even strength, except for Dionne’s which came with the man advantage.
- Gretzky is the only member of the club to have scored his 700th goal as part of a hat trick.
- Most of the 700 goals came in wins for the player’s team. Gartner tallied his in a tie, Dionne and Ovechkin both came in a loss. The rest came in victories.
- Jagr’s 700th is the only one whose 700th goal was a game-winning goal.
- Surpringly, Howe’s Red Wings, Dionne’s Rangers, and Jagr’s Devils each failed to reach the postseason in the seasons they scored their 700th goals. And only Esposito and Gretzky’s teams advanced fell in the second round in the season they reached their milestone.
- Gretzky, Jagr and Dionne all reached their 700 goal marker against the Islanders.
Changing Eras and Styles
In today’s era, players who hit the 30- or 40-goal mark are considered to be having a tremendous season. Scoring 50 goals in a season is a spectacular achievement. Lighting the lamp 700 times speaks to so many factors–among them great shooting, health, luck, consistency, playmaking teammates, success and even the salary cap.
Through the years, the game of hockey has changed. These days, with more complex defensive schemes, shot blocking, better equipment and more athletic goalies, the road to 700 goals is harder than ever. It could be a very long time before we see another player join the club. Even the NHL’s best and brightest starts are all far behind the pace make the club.
“When Patrick Roy and Grant Fuhr and Martin Brodeur came along, it changed the game,” said Gretzky. “Those guys had as big an impact on the game as any athletes that ever played. … It used to be, and I say this in a nice way, the chubby guy was the goaltender because he couldn’t skate, and those three guys sort of changed everything. Now the goalies are the best athletes on each team, (so) it’s harder to score.”
was asked if he felt lucky to have played part of his career in a more
wide-open era, he replied, “I feel blessed to
have come into the league when I did, but people talk about how easy it was to
score then. Well, there was a s—load of players playing at the same time I
did, and they
didn’t score 700.”
Similarities and Differences Among 700-Goal Members
Looking at the eight members of the elite club, Gretzky is light years ahead of the others in total points. In fact he has more points than Ovechkin and Gartner combined. He has nearly double the number of assists (1,963) of his closest competitor, Jagr (1,155).
- Hall Call – Aside from Jagr and Ovechkin, who aren’t yet eligible, all of the members of the 700 Club have already been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Sniping or Dishing – Only Hull, Gartner and Ovechkin have more goals than assists.
- Ratings – Half have plus-minus ratings of less than 100, while the other half are significantly higher.
- Sniping – While Howe’s numbers are not available, every player has a career shooting percentage of at least 12.7 percent. Gretzky leads the way with 17.6, followed by Hull (15.2 percent). The rest are clustered between 13.9 and 12.7 percent.
- Even-Strength Goals – As a percentage of each player’s total goals scored, Howe (70.7 percent), Jagr (70.2) and Gretzky (69.0 percent) led the way. Everyone else had between 62 and 66 percent.
- Power Play Goals – As a percentage of each player’s total goals scored, Ovechkin (37.1 percent), Hull (35.8 percent) and Esposito (34.3 percent) separate themselves from the pack. Everyone else is between 30.6 and 22.8 percent.
- Game Winners – As a percentage of each player’s total goals scored, everyone had at least 10 percent of their goals count as game winners. Jagr led the way with 17 percent, followed closely by Esposito (16.5 percent) and Ovechkin (15.8 percent)
- Shorthanded Goals – As a percentage of each player’s total goals scored, Gretzky had far and away the most shorties.
- Penalties – Not surprisingly, every player averaged less than 80 penalty minutes per season. Howe, a physical force as well as a scorer, averaged around 77 minutes a year, while Gretzky and Dionne averaged roughly 16 minor penalties a year (32 minutes). All of these players were far more valuable to their team skating than sitting in the penalty box.
- Draft Position – Gretzky, Howe and Esposito were all undrafted. Four players were selected in the first round of their draft year: Jagr fifth overall), Dionne (second overall), Gartner (fourth overall) and Ovechkin (1st round, first overall). Brett Hull was taken in the sixth round with the 117th overall pick.
The Next 700-Goal Member
While there are great players who regularly light the lamp, like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Vladimir Tarasenko and Auston Matthews, the reality is even at a 40-goals-per season pace, they’ll need to suit up for a minimum of 17.5 seasons to reach 700 goals. If they consistently hit 50 goals every season pace, it’d take 14 seasons. That’s a crazy thought considering nowadays, it’s tough to even find one or two guys scoring 50 in any given season.
Mark Messier (694), Steve Yzerman (692) and Mario Lemieux (690) all finished their careers just shy of the 700 Club.
Related: The NHL 600-Goal Club
The only active players currently with more than 500 goals are Patrick Marleau (561 goals) and Marian Hossa (525 goals). Marleau, 40, is playing on a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks. Hossa, 41, is technically still on the Arizona Coyotes payroll through 2020-21 but he hasn’t played a game in the NHL since the 2016-17 season.
Jeff has been covering the NHL for over a decade for various sites. He’s been with The Hockey Writers as a lead Sabres writer three years, while also writing a satire column called “Off the Crossbar.”