Why Alex Ovechkin Might Not Sign A New Contract Extension With The Capitals Until After The Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

It’s a nervous time for many of the Washington Capitals’ faithful. The franchise icon and team Captain, Alex Ovechkin, has an expiring contract coming up this summer, with unrestricted free agency looming on the horizon. To add to this bit of uneasiness, there appears to have been little progress in negotiations for a new deal for Ovechkin during the season.

“Appears” is the operative word here.

I thought I’d write a quick post to remind folks of a potential strategy that could very well be in the works by the Capitals and Ovechkin camps. Some are aware of the approach, but many are not, so it’s worthy to reiterate the circumstances and likely outcome.

To better set the scene, this summer (July 21) will also include the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken, who begin play this fall. The existing 31 teams have several potential protection schemes for who on their rosters they can protect from being drafted by the Kraken, but most teams will go with the 7-3-1 protection scheme: Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.

One would immediately assume that Alex Ovechkin would be one of the seven forwards protected in the draft, right? Not so fast.

If you dig a little deeper into the finer print you will see that unsigned, unrestricted free agents (such as Ovechkin) have a slightly different availability when it comes to the expansion draft. Seattle can select them (the week before free agency begins), but then they would need to negotiate a new deal with a player of that status when free agency opens (July 28). If they don’t reach a deal, the player is free to negotiate with whichever team he wants.

Enter Alex Ovechkin. If the Capitals left him unprotected, the Capitals could protect one additional forward, say Conor Sheary or Lars Eller, depending on your own preferred  protection list. The list might look something like this for forwards:

Kuznetsov, Wilson, Backstrom, Oshie, Mantha, Sheary, Eller

Ok, thats sounds good, so far, but what about Ovechkin? Leaving him unsigned until free agency opens sounds risky.

If selected by the Kraken, Ovechkin could go through the motions but refuse to sign a deal with Seattle once free agency begins and circle back to the Capitals and finalize his contract extension. It’s likely that Seattle will see that signing Ovechkin would be a pipe-dream, and not even select the Great 8, for fear of eventually wasting a draft pick.

Ovechkin has stated repeatedly that he wants to re-sign with the Capitals and finish his career in Washington. The Capitals have re-iterated the same. There are really no reasons to think differently. The quietness of the negotiations and resistance by both parties to discuss could likely mean an agreement in principle has been reached and the plan is in place to better the team as a whole.

Anything is possible in this crazy world, but if I had to place my money on how the Ovechkin contract situation will play out, I’d bet he re-signs after the expansion draft, during free agency. It’s what’s best for the team as a whole, allowing the Capitals to protect an additional player from being drafted by the Kraken.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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10 Responses to Why Alex Ovechkin Might Not Sign A New Contract Extension With The Capitals Until After The Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

  1. vanorm says:

    Didn’t we have one or two of those last time?

  2. Marky says:

    Yes, Oshie was one.
    This would be a good strategy I think and I agree with the forwards the Caps would protect here in your article. To get Ovi (10.5 to 11.5 per?) and Samsonov (1.5 to 2 per on bridge deal) the Caps are going to have to move another player or two this offseason, whether it be Dillon, Kempny, or some combo of D man and forward and they might have to hand over another draft pick or two to do it unfortunately. The math won’t work unless Ovi simply takes an extension (same 9.5 mil), which I doubt.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Would be a very savvy move and one that helps the team, something Ovi is obviously interested in doing.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Ovi sucks, you forgot to add Sid’s 3 cup rings to that cute picture above!

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