According to Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, the team is trying to find a “sweet spot” when it comes to forward Alex Ovechkin.
The superstar is in the final year of his 13-year, $124 million contract that pays out an average annual value of $9.538 million. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent at the close of this season, but the goal is and has always been to keep Ovechkin a Capital.
“I don’t really have an update,” MacLellan said Friday. “It’s the same as it’s been all year. We want him to finish his career here, and I think he wants to finish his career here, and at some point we’ll get it done.”
Ovechkin is negotiating without an agent and has constantly stated his desire to remain in Washington. Discussions about a new deal began at the inception of this season.
The Capitals are dealing with the same reality as the rest of the league, with the coronavirus impacting the salary cap. Expectations are that it will remain at $81.5 million for the third straight season.
Ovechkin has 16 seasons with the Capitals under his belt, helping them win the Cup in 2018. He’s two goals behind Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time NHL scoring list, a stat he could chase down when Washington takes on the Flyers Saturday.
The impact of Ovechkin on the Capitals cannot be overstated. He is simply one of the most dynamic scorers the NHL has ever seen. It’s hard to imagine him not ending his career in Washington and that’s undoubtedly a prospect MacLellan and Co. want to avoid.
Ovechkin has 19 points in 22 games this season. He missed four games due to COVID-19 protocols, but the team says he’s on the right track. A healthy Ovechkin could explode and challenge the scoring lead at any moment. He’s scored two goals in his past three games and clocked 14 shots on goal.
As the season continues and the Capitals have much of their core locked up over the long haul, the question of Ovechkin’s next deal will become more critical.
But MacLellan has confidence something will get done, a deal that will likely set the stage for the grand finale of one of the finest hockey careers we’ve ever seen.