Friday clues Alex Ovechkin"s 36th birthday. The Capitals" captain will have only a couple of days to celebrate as training camp for his 17th NHL season starts next week.

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Time flies. Ovechkin, that arrived in Washington in 2005 together a 20-year-old phenom, has already cemented self as among the finest players of all time, however this season will be the begin of a new five-year contract that will most likely close the end his NHL career. The search for Wayne Gretzky"s goal record now begins in earnest.

"I shot to no think around it," Ovechkin claimed of the document at the NHL/NHLPA Player Media tourism in Chicago top top Thursday. "I shot to go the end there and also play and shot to carry out my best."

Ovechkin has actually 730 job goals. Gretzky"s record is 894. In order to beat it, Ovechkin must typical 33 goals per season over the five years the his new contract. The fact he has remained as lethal a scorer over the food of his career is currently incredible, yet each year brings with it the possibility that age may catch up come the an excellent 8.

Father Time, as they say, is undefeated.

The clock is additionally ticking because, if Ovechkin might not have actually said the intends to retire after ~ his new five-year contract is up, he made it clean he is not interested in following former capitals star Jaromir Jagr in playing late right into his 40s.

When request if he could envision self playing till he"s 50, Ovechkin said, "No, I"m not."

But if you think beating Gretzky in the next five years would need an nearly unprecedented performance for Ovechkin to store up the pace, well, that"s actually no the case.

Ovechkin does not have to have the best season ever for a 36-year-old come score 33 goals this year. He doesn"t also have to be in the height five.

According come Hockey Reference, the most goals score by a player in a season at 36 years old is 48, scored by Teemu Selanne in the 2006-07 season.

Here"s the top-10 list:

Selanne: 48 goals, 2006-07

Phil Esposito: 42 goals, 1978-79

Brett Hull: 39 goals, 2000-01

Joe Mullen: 38 goals, 1993-94

Bill Guerin: 36 goals, 2006-07

Mark Messier: 36 goals, 1996-97

Dino Ciccarelli: 35 goals, 1996-97

Mike Gartner: 35 goals, 1995-96

Jean Ratelle: 33 goals, 1976-77

John Bucyk: 32 goals, 1971-72

Joe Sakic: 32 goals, 2005-06

Mats Sundin: 32 goals, 2007-08

This perform comes v both good news and bad news. The poor news is the in order because that Ovechkin to stay on pace v Gretzky, the is going to have to have one of the 10 best seasons because that a 36-year-old of all time.

The good news, however, is that hardly seems impossible for Ovechkin.

Ovechkin already has the most goals in a season at age 34 (48 purposes in 2019-20) and the second-most goals at 33 (51 objectives in 2018-19) and 32 (49 goals in 2017-18).

Though limited to just 24 goals in 2021 after absent a career-high 11 games, Ovechkin claimed that had actually a lot to perform with the condensed season.

"It was a brief season. The was several games," Ovechkin said. "All the points were happening because of that because sometimes her body doesn"t recoup well, and a little injury became challenging to recover."

The 2021-22 schedule is lot closer come the regular schedule the players are provided to through 82 games and a season stretching from October to April. The main obstacle will be the Olympics which will mean Ovechkin will need to travel throughout the world to Beijing because that a two-week tournament in the middle of the continuous season.

But, the course, there to be no means Ovechkin to be going to miss out on the possibility to represent his country.

"I"m really excited," Ovechkin said. "It"s a privilege to be in the Olympic Games, stand for your country and play against the ideal players in the world and shot to get a gold medal. Everybody has actually the same possibilities right now, so i hope we"re walking to be able to make history, for this reason we"ll see."

It"s additionally important to remember that he needs 33 goals per season only if that scores exactly 33. That typical goes down through every goal he scores past that.

For those curious, the many goals in a solitary season by age are:

37 year old: 40 by john Bucyk and also Brendan Shanahan

38 year old: 37 by Brett Hull

39 year old: 39 through Gordie Howe

40 year old: 44 by Gordie Howe

Ovechkin is walk to have actually a tall task ahead of that to capture Gretzky and also it will call for some that the ideal seasons ever by a player the his age every year for the remainder of his career. Yet what he has done come this point is he has made the difficult no longer feel that way. Ovechkin doesn"t need to beat out any kind of of the documents on the list unless he stumbles and also dips below 33 objectives one season.

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Truly, the difficult record that 894 now appears entirely feasible for Ovechkin to catch, but it has to start through a large year in 2021-22.