Washington Capitals: Best Scorers in Franchise History
For the past five years, the Washington Capitals have boasted one of the most electrifying offenses in the league, but that hasn't always been the case.
Prior to the arrival of Alex Ovechkin, the Caps' success depended largely on hardworking players and defensive systems, rather than high-end talents in the offensive zone.
Since the Washington Capitals began NHL play in 1974, the franchise has produced just two Hall of Fame forwards, which is a testament to how few world-class scorers the team has had the luxury of sending out over the years.
With that being said, the Caps have still featured a number of talented snipers over the course of the last three decades, many of whom ranked among the best in the game at one point or another.
With that in mind, here's a look at the top goal scorers in franchise history.
10. Ryan Walter
As the Second Overall Pick in the 1978 NHL Draft, much was expected of Ryan Walter, especially considering he was joining a Capitals team that had struggled to score since entering the league in 1974-75.
The following season, Walter did not disappoint, as he posted 28 goals and 55 points, and became one of the first true star-calibre players in the franchise's young history.
After his rookie year, Walter had an even greater honor bestowed upon him, as he became the youngest captain in NHL history at just 21. As the undisputed face of the franchise, Walter continued to put up impressive numbers, as he tallied 24 goals in each of the next two seasons.
However, his true breakout campaign came in 1981-82, as he lit the lamp 38 times, picking up 87 points in the process.
Unfortunately, his time in Washington came to an end that summer, as he was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a package that included current Capitals color commentator Craig Laughlin, and future captain and two-time Norris Trophy winner Rod Langway.
9. Alexander Semin
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Since first breaking into the NHL in 2003-04, Alexander Semin has established himself as one of the most talented offensive threats in the game, at least when he wants to be.
After choosing to stay in Russia for the 2005-06 Season, Semin burst onto the NHL scene during his first full year in North America by lighting the lamp 38 times for a very mediocre Capitals team in 2006-07.
From there, Semin continued to score at a very impressive clip, posting at least 25 goals in each of the next four seasons, highlighted by a 40-goal year in 2009-10.
Though he's developed a reputation for being one of the most enigmatic stars in the league, Semin has a penchant for scoring highlight-reel goals, and few question the level of skill and creativity of the 27-year-old.
For the third consecutive year, Semin is eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season, so whether or not he remains a Capital beyond July of 2012 will depend largely on his level of consistency and effort in a critical season for the Caps.
8. Mike Ridley
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When Bobby Carpenter was shipped to New York midway through the 1986-87 Season, the centerpiece of the package that Washington received in return was a young forward named Mike Ridley.
Ridley, who was named to the NHL's All-Rookie team the previous year, blossomed into one of the best scorers in franchise history, notching six seasons of 25 goals or more during his eight years in a Capitals uniform.
His best year came in 1988-89, as the skilled Manitoba native put up 41 goals and 89 points, though his Patrick Division Champion Capitals lost in the opening round of the 1989 Playoffs.
From there, Ridley continued to be a very productive offensive threat for the Caps, and remained a fan favorite until his departure at the close of the 1993-94 season.
7. Dave Christian
Though Dave Christian is likely best known for playing a starring role on Team USA during their run to the Gold Medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, he would later go on to become one of the best offensive players to ever don a Capitals jersey.
While Christian was primarily a playmaker on the 1980 Olympic Team, as he led the squad with eight assists in seven games, he demonstrated his abilities as a sniper during his seven seasons with the Capitals.
After the Caps acquired the Minnesota native from Winnipeg in 1983, Christian scored 29 goals and 81 points, and posted a career-high 41 goals and 83 points two seasons later.
Following his breakout year in 1985-86, Christian would hit the 30-goal plateau on two more occasions in Washington, before ultimately being shipped to Boston midway through the 1989-90 Season.
6. Bobby Carpenter
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After being drafted third overall by the Capitals in 1981, Bobby Carpenter became the first American to make the jump to the NHL straight out of high school, and announced his arrival by scoring 32 goals in his rookie season.
Two years later, Carpenter became the first American to score 50 goals in a season, as he posted an eye-popping 53 goals and 95 points in 1984-85.
Unfortunately, that was by far the best year of Carpenter's career, and just two seasons later, he was dealt to the New York Rangers in exchange for two future fan favorites in Kelly Miller and Mike Ridley.
During the later stages of Carpenter's career, he remodeled himself into a checking line specialist, and helped New Jersey capture their first Stanley Cup in 1995. However, Carpenter would never become the star that he once seemed destined to be.
5. Dino Ciccarelli
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While Dino Ciccarelli spent only three full seasons with the Capitals, his level of production during his time in Washington rivals that of almost any player in franchise history.
Acquired from Minnesota late in the 1988-89 Season, Ciccarelli was brought in to add some scoring punch to an offense that was in dire need of star-calibre talent up front, and the scrappy Ciccarelli did not disappoint.
During his first full year as a Capital, Ciccarelli scored 41 goals and 79 points, and added eight goals in eight postseason contests that Spring.
The following season, Ciccarelli missed a good chunk of the year due to injuries, but rebounded with a 38-goal, 76-point campaign in 1991-92.
Ultimately, Ciccarelli's troubles away from the rink lead to his departure from the nation's capital, but he cemented his place among the greatest ever to play the game with his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
4. Dennis Maruk
Until Alex Ovechkin came around, the Capitals' franchise record for goals in a season belonged to a diminutive center by the name of Dennis Maruk.
Maruk came to Washington following three seasons with the Cleveland Barons, and though he demonstrated a knack for the net during his time as a Baron, he blossomed into one of the best scorers in the league as a Capital.
During his first season with the Capitals in 1978-79, Maruk notched 31 goals and 90 points, but his best seasons were yet to come. Two years later, playing alongside team captain Ryan Walter, Maruk posted 50 goals and 97 points, and bettered those totals the following season.
In 1981-82, Maruk ripped the Capitals' franchise scoring records to shreds, as he potted 60 goals and 136 points, en route to the second All-Star selection of his career.
Though his numbers dipped to 31 goals and 80 points in 1982-83, his last in Washington, Maruk still holds the franchise's record for points in a season, and it's not a mark that appears in danger of being broken anytime soon.
3. Mike Gartner
Mike Gartner was a standout with each team he played for during his 20-year career, but his best years in the National Hockey League came as a member of the Capitals, the team that drafted him fourth overall in 1979.
Gartner burst into the NHL the following season with a stunning 36-goal rookie campaign, announcing his arrival to the hockey world. In his second year, Gartner potted 48 goals and 94 points, and he was far from finished.
By the time Gartner's time in Washington was up, which came midway through the 1988-89 season, when the Capitals decided to part ways with the speedy winger in order to acquire Dino Ciccarelli, Gartner held virtually every meaningful scoring record in franchise history.
He posted at least 35 goals in all nine full seasons he played with the Capitals, highlighted by a 50-goal, 102-point performance in 1984-85 (which still stands as a franchise record for points by a right winger), and was selected as an All-Star four times as a Capital.
The first Capitals forward to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Gartner will forever be remembered by the fans in Washington, especially considering his No. 11 jersey, complete with his trademark mustache, hangs high above the ice at the Verizon Center in D.C.
2. Peter Bondra
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Though the Capitals teams of the 1990's weren't known for having particularly dangerous offenses, there was always one player that the opposition had to be aware of, and that player was Peter Bondra.
Bondra's deadly blend of speed, finesse and skill helped him terrorize goalies for over a decade in a Capitals uniform, and he helped the franchise reach unprecedented heights.
Due to the fact that Europeans were just beginning to defect to the NHL, Bondra was drafted 156th Overall in 1990, and proved to be a bit of a late bloomer. His career with the Caps began in rather ordinary fashion, as he managed just 40 goals combined in his first two seasons in North America.
However, from there the slick Slovakian's career took flight. In 1992-93, Bondra broke out with a 37-goal, 85-point season, and two years later he lead the NHL in goals with 34 in just 47 games.
Bondra would go on to rack up four seasons of at least 45 goals, including 52 in 1995-96 and 1997-98. He twice lead the entire league in goals, and more importantly, he helped Washington reach their first Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, and lead the team in goals that spring as well.
Sadly, Bondra's career in Washington came to an end in 2003-04, when General Manager George McPhee auctioned off all of the team's expensive assets in preparation for the lockout, and Bondra was shipped to Ottawa in exchange for Brooks Laich.
Though his numbers tailed off from there, Bondra eventually joined the exclusive 500-goal club during his final season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He holds the franchise career records for goals and points, and it shouldn't be too long before Capitals fans see Bondra's No. 12 hanging alongside Gartner's No. 11 at the Verizon Center.
1. Alex Ovechkin
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After the Capitals dealt all their high-priced veterans away at the 2004 Trade Deadline, the team was rewarded with the first overall selection in preparation for the NHL Entry Draft in June of that year.
That draft pick yielded the best player, and by default, best scorer in franchise history in Alexander Ovechkin.
Though Caps fans would have to wait a year to see their prized prospect play his first game in a Washington uniform, he quickly proved he was well worth the wait, as he scored two goals in his first NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In his rookie season, Ovechkin took the league by storm, scoring 52 goals and 106 points, en route to the first Calder Trophy in franchise history.
Though his totals dipped to 46 goals and 92 points the following year, he exploded for a league-leading 65 goals and 112 points in 2007-08, and more importantly, he lead the Caps to their first division championship in six years.
He would go on to collect the first of two Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player, which was another first for a Capital.
Overall, Ovechkin has collected 50 goals and 100 points in four of his six seasons, and has already managed to win more individual awards than all other Capitals combined in his young career.
While he still needs to win at least one Stanley Cup to complete his legacy, he is hands down the most decorated goal scorer in Capitals history, which is why he's an easy choice to top this list.