After the Washington Capitals hired Peter Laviolette to be the 19th head coach in franchise history, one of the first questions is what kind of influence he will have on captain Alex Ovechkin. NoVa Caps looks at Ovechkin’s performance in his first season under every head coach he has had since making his NHL debut in 2005-06.
2005-06 – Glen Hanlon
Ovechkin scored 52 goals and 106 points in 81 games during his rookie season to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Unfortunately, advanced stats were not introduced until the next season, so we could not have seen Ovechkin’s defensive stats from his rookie year. Knowing that playing a two-way game was a struggle for him early on in his NHL career, perhaps that is a good thing.
2007-08 – Bruce Boudreau
After the Capitals made a coaching change 21 games into the season, Ovechkin responded with 51 goals, 89 points, and a +28 rating under Boudreau to help the Capitals go from the worst record in the NHL to first in the Southeast Division and make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in the Ovechkin era. Over 82 games, that production equates to 69 goals and 120 points. Ovechkin finished the season with a 58.1% Corsi-for percentage. In his first Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ovechkin posted four goals, nine points, and a -1 rating in a seven-game first-round series loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Ovechkin won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the top goal-scorer in the league, the Ted Lindsay Award as NHL MVP voted by the players for the first time in his career, and the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP for the first time.
2011-12 – Dale Hunter
After a slow start, Ovechkin finished the season with 30 goals, 48 points, and a -1 rating in his final 56 after the Capitals replaced Boudreau with Hunter. That equates to 44 goals and 70 points over a regular 82 game slate. His Corsi-for percentage went down from 57.4% in 2010-11 to 54.6% in 2011-12. In 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Ovechkin posted five goals, nine points, and a -2 rating.
2012-13 – Adam Oates
In the shortened 48-game lockout season, Ovechkin posted a league-leading 32 goals, 56 points (tied for third), and a +2 rating to win the Rocket Richard Trophy and Hart Trophy. Over a full 82-game season, Ovechkin was on pace to finish the season with 55 goals and 96 points. His Corsi-for percentage went up slightly from 47.9% in 2011-12 to 48.9% in his first season under Oates. In seven Stanley Cup Playoff games that season, Ovechkin disappointed, posting just one goal, two points, and a -2 rating in the Capitals’ first-round exit.
2014-15 – Barry Trotz
In his first season under Trotz, Ovechkin’s plus-minus rating skyrocketed from an NHL-worst -35 to a +10. He scored the third-highest amount of goals he has ever scored in a season (53) and averaged a point-per-game (81 in 81 games) to lead the Capitals back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing out for the first time in six seasons the previous year. His Corsi-for percentage also ticked way up from 50.3% in 2013-14 to 54.9% the next season. Ovechkin added five goals, nine points, and a -3 rating in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
2018-19 Todd Reirden
After winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in his 13-year NHL career, Ovechkin returned to the 50-goal club after just coming short the previous two seasons with 51 and posted the most points in a season since 2009-10 with 89. He had a career-high 14-game point streak where he had 17 goals and 23 points during that season. Though, his Corsi-for percentage (49.1%) took quite a hit compared to the last (51.4). Ovechkin added four goals and nine points in the Capitals’ seven-game first-round exit that season.
Trotz was the only other coach in the Ovechkin-era to have experience as an NHL head coach before being handed the keys to the car. As Trotz never advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before the Capitals hired him in 2014, Laviolette has been to the Stanley Cup Final three times (2006 with Carolina Hurricanes, 2010 with Philadelphia Flyers, and 2017 with Nashville Predators) and won once (2006). Teams under Laviolette in the first season of his tenure there also usually get off to fast starts. As Laviolette is arguably more accomplished than Trotz was when he arrived in Washington, what will that do for the Great Eight? Only time will tell.
By Harrison Brown