Great One, Ovechkin Latest to Join Esports Rush

Even when sports are going on in the world, there are always the inevitable what-if scenarios that we kick around. How prolific of a scorer would Jerry West be in the era of the three-point line? Could the No-Name Defense and the unbeaten 1972 Dolphins contend in the pass-centric era of Peyton Manning’s heyday with the Colts? Would guys like Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Three Finger Brown be able to shut down the hitters of today? Could Babe Ruth hit today’s pitching and what kind of home run totals would he register in the era of what seems to be a juiced baseball? Who is the NHL’s most prolific when it comes to lighting the lamp?

While it’s tough to come up with the answers to the majority of these questions outside of speculation, we’ll get an answer, albeit it in video game form, next week. Alex Ovechkin, the sniper of the Washington Capitals, is going to lock up with the NHL’s all-time leading scorer in the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, in a best of three series of NHL 20 to be streamed on the Capitals’ Twitch stream. In addition to the talented duo, Ovechkin is expected to be joined by John Casagranda while Gretzky plans on playing with his son Trevor. The battle is expected to take place on April 22 with the proceeds from the contests going to charity. Benefitting from the competition is the Edmonton Food Bank and the Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Feeding the Frontlines fund to help with coronavirus relief in the nation’s capital.

This one should be a highly entertaining series between a pair of the most well-known names in hockey. Gretzky is the league’s all-time leader in goals (894), assists (1,963) and points (2,857) in his career with stops in Edmonton, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers and St. Louis. He racked up nine Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player, 10 Art Ross trophies as the league’s leading scorer and was a part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams in a five-year span with the Oilers between 1983-84 and 1987-88. In the offseason after his final Stanley Cup with Edmonton, he was dealt to Los Angeles in a massive deal.

Ovechkin is no slouch either, having rung up 706 career goals along with 572 assists for 1,278 points in his career, which includes his numbers up through the league’s shutdown last month. He hit the 700-goal plateau earlier this season and was tied with Boston’s David Pastrnak for the league lead in goals with 48 on the season. Ovechkin has won the Hart Trophy three times and won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league leader in goals on eight different occasions. Equally important for the Capitals, he led the team to the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history in the 2017-18 season.

This one should really be entertaining when you get right down to it. You have the league’s all-time leading scorer battling with one of the premier goal-scorers of the current era. Adding Casagranda, who was the first esports player to be signed by an NHL team, to the mix is going to add more eyes to the streams and could increase interest in betting. There currently are no odds on the board yet for this matchup as it may be a bit difficult with the relative unknown gaming skill of both NHL stars. Clearly, if Casagranda is involved, one would have to venture that he and Ovechkin would be a rather solid favorite. We haven’t seen much of the Great One’s son involved in playing video games so that would be another wild card in the mix.

When it does come to betting about a potential real-life prop bet involving these two, there is a big one on the board. Ovechkin stands 188 goals behind Gretzky for the all-time lead in goals scored as it stands at the moment. The odds show that his chances of scoring enough in the rest of his career to climb past Gretzky are a bit of a long shot. He currently is going off at +600 in his quest to be the most prolific goal scorer in league history.

One thing we know for sure is that it’s going to be entertaining seeing these two superstars matching up on the virtual ice. While it won’t settle the score of who the more dominant offensive player is, it does bring them together in some form or fashion to bring some entertainment to the screen. Can the Great One live up to his nickname and skate away with the win in this best of three series? We’ll have to wait and see but it’s definitely a clash of marquee names in the league’s first big foray into jumping into the void that the COVID-19 pandemic has created.

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Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.