Ovechkin has led the NHL in goal scoring (for which the Rocket Richard Trophy is awarded) seven times, which is tied for the most times in history with Bobby Hull. He first did so in 2007–08 season, when he recorded 65 goals and 112 points. That year he also led the league in points, winning the Art Ross Trophy, and also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player and Lester B. Pearson Award as the best player as voted on by the NHL Players' Association. Ovechkin would again win the Hart Trophy and Pearson Award in 2009, along with the Richard Trophy, and won the Ted Lindsay Award (the renamed Pearson Award) for a third consecutive year in 2010; it also marked the fifth straight year that he was named to the First All-Star Team. After a couple years of decreased scoring, Ovechkin again led the league in goals, earning the Richard Trophy, in 2013, and again winning the Hart Trophy. He would repeat as the Richard Trophy winner from 2014 to 2016, scoring at least 50 goals each season, as well as becoming the third player to score 50 goals in a season seven times. He marked 500 career NHL goals in the 2015–16 season and also led the league in goals for four straight seasons from 2012–13 to 2015–16; as such, Ovechkin is considered by many to be one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the NHL. In 2017, Ovechkin was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players of all-time.
Internationally Ovechkin has represented Russia in multiple tournaments. His first IIHF tournament was the 2002 World U18 Championship. The following year he made his debut at the World Junior Championship, helping Russia win the gold medal. He played two more years at the World Juniors, as well as once more at the World U18 Championships. Ovechkin's first senior tournament was the 2004 World Championship, and he also played in the World Cup that year. Ovechkin has also played for Russia at the Winter Olympics in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Overall Ovechkin has represented Russia at eleven World Championships and three Olympics in his career, winning the World Championship three times.
Ovechkin began playing in the Russian Super League (RSL) in Dynamo Moscow at the age of 16. Making his professional debut in the 2001–02 season, he scored four points in 21 games. He would spend three seasons there prior to being drafted by the NHL, and he would rack up 36 goals and 32 assists in 152 career games.
The following off-season, Ovechkin was selected first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. He had been projected as the first overall pick for nearly two years and had earned comparisons to Mario Lemieux. 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 (15 September 1985). 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.
Due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Ovechkin remained with Dynamo for one more season. He recorded 27 points in 34 games in 2004–05, while missing nearly two months of play because of a shoulder injury sustained in the gold medal game against Canada in the 2005 World Junior Championships. In the playoffs, he helped Dynamo win the RSL title.