A year or two ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Alex Ovechkin would sign a contract extension, chase Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, and finish his NHL career with the Washington Capitals. “I’ve been playing only for two teams in my life: Dynamo Moscow and the Caps,” Ovechkin said a while back. ” I don’t like too much to change teams.”
Now, things are getting a little uncomfortable.
Over the last week, Ovechkin and Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan commented on the negotiations three different times. None of the quotes are particularly optimistic or revealing. But maybe this is crunch time and they’re playing chicken and waiting for the first person to blink? I don’t know. Ugh, boys, just come to an agreement already.
“It’s status quo,” Brian MacLellan said first on April 12, the NHL’s trade deadline day, after acquiring Anthony Mantha and Michael Raffl. “We’re still talking. We’ll work it out when we work it out.”
On Thursday, April 15, Ovechkin made an appearance on 106.7 The Fan’s Grant & Danny to help promote Nicklas Backstrom’s 1,000th game. Grant Paulsen asked Ovi about the situation.
“You’re negotiating your deal on your own,” Paulsen said per a transcription by Chris Lingebach. “Is your plan to be here in the future and to stay in DC?”
“We’ll see, yeah,” Ovechkin said. “We’ll see.”
MacLellan also addressed the negotiations that day on 106.7 The Fan’s BMitch & Finlay.
“Ovi knows what his situation is. He’s pretty adamant about where he fits in,” MacLellan said. “And I think it’s important, just like Nick. We want Ovi and Nick to finish their careers as Capitals. These are the only two players that we’ve ever had that have played 1,000 games with a Capitals jersey on, so it’s important for our franchise to have them both finish here. Because they’ve helped define who we are, helped change the sport, what it means to DC, what it means to this area, and they’ve been the main drivers of that over the past 16 years.”
The Capitals have 10 games left in the regular season. New deals are almost never announced during the postseason, meaning that GM and player basically have until May 19 to come to an agreement or the negotiations will spill into the offseason.
Perhaps that is intentional. If Ovechkin is not under contract, the Capitals would not necessarily have to protect him in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, which would in essence allow the team to protect and control an extra player. But even then, MacLellan likely would want to avoid the possible heartburn of watching the greatest player in team history be selected and give Seattle an exclusive negotiating window with Ovechkin before free agency.
So in conclusion, we’re in crunch time of an Ovi extension. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Conor Sheary have inked two-year extensions over the last month. Is The Great 8 next? I guess “we’ll see.”
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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