Capitals’ Pending UFA Alex Ovechkin: “I’m Confident. We Still Have Time. Obviously, I Want To Finish My Career Here. I’m Pretty Sure We’ll Do Something Soon.”

Pending UFA Alex Ovechkin told reporters during the Washington Capitals exit interviews on Tuesday that “I’m confident. I want to finish my career here. As soon as we’ll do something, you’ll find out.” The 35-year-old can hit the open market on July 28 if the two sides cannot agree to a contract by then.

On the unique circumstances of this season, Ovechkin said “Obviously, it was a tough year. … It was ups-and-downs. Nobody wanted [to go out this early] but it is what it is. We tried to fight back in the game but we missed a lot of people [and opportunities]. But it’s still too early to think about what happened. I’m sure a lot of guys are not happy how they’re feeling.”

He stated that he was “feeling good” and “confident” in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing all but one shift in an eight-game stretch due to a lower-body injury, which he later noted was a leg injury, at the end of the regular season before playing in the final game before the first round. “It was not bothering me at all,” Ovechkin said. He will not need surgery over the offseason.

Ovechkin reiterated on signing a contract that “I’m confident. We still have time. Obviously, I want to finish my career here. I’m pretty sure we’ll do something soon.” He is working on a deal with owner Ted Leonsis and GM Brian MacLellan directly and has no timetable for signing a deal.

Heading into this season, Ovechkin did not know when to start or how to prepare. He said that “It was hard,” and was texting his agent once a week about an update. “Everything was strange. Everything was weird,” he added. According to Ovechkin, the first few games were hard for him because it was hard to prepare beforehand, but it got better as it went on. He worked out at home during the offseason but it was still tough. “It’s a good thing next season is going to be a regular one [for preparation purposes],” he added.

Regarding his decision not to attend the 2021 IIHF World Championships in Latvia, Ovechkin said “I told them ‘if you need me, I’ll go, but it was a hard year for my body.’ Lots of mini injuries and there was a big injury in the playoffs. It is what it is. Kind of a hard situation. I want to go and I want to play but if I’m not at 100%, I’m pretty sure they’ll take guys who are 100%.”

When asked whether he expects a lot of different faces when he comes back for training camp in September due to the flat salary cap and 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 23 looming with the Seattle Kraken coming in, he replied “I’m pretty sure next season, we’ll have the same group of guys and we’re going to be a team.”

When asked whether he believes the Capitals’ Stanley Cup window is closing, Ovechkin said “Everybody has their own mind, everyone has their own opinion. … I think [that] we still going to have a good team and we still have a team to win the Cup. I think the team [that] we have is pretty solid.”

On if changes are needed after three consecutive first-round exits since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, Ovechkin said “I think we have an unbelievable locker room. I’m not a GM. As a player, you want to have the same group of guys because that atmosphere in the locker room is tremendous. Obviously, everyone supports each other. It was fun. But it was a hard year physically and mentally and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

When asked about what makes him believe this core group of players can hoist the Cup again, Ovechkin countered “I think the veteran experience that we have. This core group of guys are champions. With the pieces that we had this year, all the guys have won a Cup and everybody knows what it takes to be a champion. And that’s a good part of it.”

Ovechkin said that “I just love the game. I love to be around the guys, be on the ice” after being asked what keeps him going. He will stop playing when he stops feeling those things. “It’s a great feeling out there to be around those guys and it’s fun,” he added.

Regarding Capitals center and fellow countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had a down season statistically and tested for COVID-19 twice this season, Ovechkin told the media that “I think he’s going up mentally now. He understands what he has to do.” Ovechkin will assist him if needed but is confident in Kuznetsov.

On the possibility of catching Wayne Gretzky for first on the NHL all-time goals list, Ovechkin thinks that “You still have chances. You just have to go out there and do your thing. … One step at a time.” He will enter the 2021-22 season one goal shy of Marcel Dionne (who scored 731 goals during his career) for fifth on the all-time leaderboard and 164 short of Gretzky’s record of 894.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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1 Response to Capitals’ Pending UFA Alex Ovechkin: “I’m Confident. We Still Have Time. Obviously, I Want To Finish My Career Here. I’m Pretty Sure We’ll Do Something Soon.”

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    He will sign after expansion draft.

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