Alex Ovechkin's pursuit of Wayne Gretzky is hampered by the Capitals' slide

The pursuit of Wayne Gretzky's goal total by Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals will be one of the major NHL storylines to follow throughout the upcoming seasons.

Ovechkin currently trails Gretzky's 894 goals by just 72 goals. There is little doubt that the forward will

smash the record because he still has three more years on his deal and is in good health. It just depends on when and where the new record will be when he retires.

Ovechkin, who has 42 goals and 75 points in 73 games this season, hasn't shown any symptoms of slowing down.

This season, he scored almost twice as many goals as any other Capitals player. However, Ovechkin's goal-scoring quest is made a little more difficult by that roster.

For the first time in almost a decade, Washington missed the playoffs this season. 

This trade deadline, the Capitals were blatant sellers, sending Dmitry Orlov and other players out. Even while it was almost probably intended to be a one-time sell-off,

it's more likely that this is the start of Washington's demise. The Washington club is in a difficult position as its primary players continue to age.