Alex Ovechkin was drafted by the Washington Capitals first overall in 2004 and while he was projected to be a superstar, nobody knew the true influence he would have on the Capitals organisation.
Now 37 years-old, 6'3" winger Ovechkin has scored a remarkable 789 goals in 1,293 regular season games which places him third on the all-time goal scoring list in the NHL behind Gordie Howe (801 in 1,767 games) and Wayne Gretzky (894 in 1,487 games).
The Russian signed a new five-year deal with the Capitals in 2021 and has since continued his pursuit of the goal-scoring record in earnest, hitting nine goals in 19 games this season alone.
Ovechkin also has 638 assists over his 18-season career with the Capitals, which totals 1,427 points and ranks 19th all-time in the NHL.
Already he is the all-time leader in powerplay goals, surpassing Dave Andreychuk's record of 274 and smashing it with a current total of 290, while he is the leader for most goals with one team.
With 52 goals in 81 regular season games, Ovechkin beat long-time rival Sidney Crosby (picked first overall by Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005) to the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2006.
Since then he has won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer nine times and the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL on three occasions (2008, 2009, 2013).
On top of that, Ovechkin was voted by members of the NHL Players' Association as the most outstanding player in the NHL and won the Ted Lindsay Award for three straight seasons from 2008-10.
He has been an NHL First Team All-Star eight times (2006-10, 2013, 2015, 2019) but his proudest moment to date came in 2017/18 when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs to lead the Capitals to their first ever Stanley Cup.
Despite several dominant regular seasons, it took the Capitals and Ovechkin a long 13 seasons to figure out how to win in the playoffs and become Stanley Cup Champions.
Many thought it would never come but, lead by coach Barry Trotz and Ovechkin's 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points in 24 games, the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final to be crowned champions and the relief was there for all to see.
Frustratingly for the Capitals and Ovechkin, they haven't managed to win a playoff series since and time is closing on that core group which includes 32-year-old Swede Nicklas Backstrom.
Internationally, Ovechkin has represented Russia in multiple tournaments and played a pivotal role in his country winning the World Junior Championship in 2003, and the World Championship at senior level three times (2008, 2012 and 2014).
He has also played for Russia at the Winter Olympics three time in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
Ovechkin began playing in the Russian Super League (RSL) in Dynamo Moscow at the age of 16 and progressed through to the seniors where in his final season before entering the NHL he helped the club win the RSL title.
At junior, he was so highly regarded that the Florida Panthers attempted to draft him in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in the ninth round, even though his birthday was two days after the cut-off. Rick Dudley, the general manager of the Panthers, claimed the pick was legitimate, claiming that Ovechkin was old enough with leap years taken into consideration.
Since his introduction into the NHL, the Capitals have made the playoffs 14 times and been taken seriously as a contender almost every season.
In the year Ovechkin was selected, Washington traded away all their stars and won just 23 of 82 games but the tank was worth it as almost single-handedly the 'Great-8' changed the face of the franchise for years to come.
To begin the current season, the aging Capitals have been missing up to $40-million of cap, with Backstrom headlining the absentees and unsure whether he will ever be able to link up with Ovechkin again following long-term hip problems.
Ovechkin is again the main reason they have been able to stay in contention and he is 18/1 to win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer for a 10 time and 28/1 to win the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.
The Capitals are to win the Stanley Cup for the second time this season which Ovechkin insists is his sole goal rather than breaking Gretzky's record, but as he gets closer, he won't be able to avoid the hype over having the chance to beat something never thought possible, not least in the current NHL climate.