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After the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win on Thursday night, the NHL season, in terms of game action is officially over. In the coming weeks, teams will begin preparing for the offseason, including the NHL Entry Draft, Free Agency, and the contract decisions of players (and in the Capitals’ case, their coaches). In Capital Review, NoVa Caps will be taking a look at each player’s season, their contract status, and their outlook for next season, beginning in numerical order based on jersey number. Next up: captain Alex Ovechkin.
Games Played: 82
After scoring just 33 goals in a 2016-17 season that saw the Capitals fall short of a Stanley Cup and many outside Washington questioning whether he had started declining, Alex Ovechkin responded with a 2017-18 season that saw him play what was perhaps the best all-around hockey of his 13-season career in the NHL; one that started by Ovechkin scoring seven goals through the first two games of the season, and book-ended by a Stanley Cup championship. Ovechkin rebounded from his 33-goal performance last season by scoring 49 goals in all 82 games played, along with 38 assists for 87 points. Even at age 32, Ovechkin averaged 20:09 of ice time a game for Head Coach Barry Trotz during the regular season (which was sixth-most on the team) and finished with his first point per game season in three seasons (1.06). Ovechkin finished the regular season with 17 power play goals, and scored on 13.8% of his shots during the season. The 2017-18 season also saw Ovechkin reach notable milestones, including his 600th career goal, playing his 1,000th game, setting the franchise record for most games played, as well as his 500th career assist, among others.
From the outset of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was clear that Ovechkin was a man on a mission, and his final statistical line shows it. In 24 games played, Ovechkin scored an NHL-best and franchise record 15 goals and added 12 assists for 27 points, with a plus-8 rating. Ovechkin averaged 20:44 of ice time during the postseason, and continued his impressive all-around play, blocking 14 shots and recording 14 takeaways, while delivering 81 hits. His impressive showing and effort earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ovechkin became the second Russian ever to win the award (Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin won it in 2009) and the first Russian captain to win the Stanley Cup.
Status: Three seasons remaining on 13-year, $124 million contract signed in 2008 ($10 million salary/$9,538,462 annual average value)
Money Left on Current Deal: $28,615,386 left in annual average value
Free Agent: 2021, Unrestricted
Analysis: When Ovechkin signed his record contract in January of 2008, the belief was that it would precede multiple Stanley Cups for what was, at the time, an up-and-coming young Capitals team with a strong, developing core. While the franchise did not capture its first championship until several days ago, Ovechkin’s deal has been nothing but a solid investment. In the seasons following the 2007-08 season (when Ovechkin signed the deal), Ovechkin has scored 444 goals and added 368 assists for 812 points in 758 games played, and now has a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy to his name. If Ovechkin can maintain his productivity over the next three seasons (and judging by his response this season at age 32, that should be attainable), the deal will continue to be a slam dunk signing.
Once the dust settles on the seemingly nonstop celebrating that Ovechkin and the rest of the team has done in almost a week since winning the Cup, players (Ovechkin included) will likely begin their offseason training and conditioning in preparation for next season. Ovechkin arrived at training camp last fall lighter and more energized than the previous one, and as he will be 33 when the 2018-19 starts, it’s likely he will continue to adapt his offseason training regimen. While the battle with Father Time is always a topic of concern for players of Ovechkin’s age, his strong showing this past season indicates that he is nowhere near finished and another season of 40 goals should not be out of the question for the Capitals captain.
ALEX OVECHKIN HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON
By Michael Fleetwood
Check out NoVa Caps’ other Capital Reviews for 2017-18: