Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan revealed his philosophy towards winning a Stanley Cup on Hockey Central, Thursday. “I think size and skill is how you win, especially in the playoffs,” MacLellan said. “You can get bigger, but if you can’t play the game, I don’t think it contributes much to your lineup.”
That vision also includes Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the two greatest players in Washington Capitals history. If MacLellan can re-sign Ovechkin, arguably the game’s greatest goal-scorer, the GM said the team will load up every year and go all-in for the Stanley Cup.
“It’s always been believed and evidence shows this, that as long as the Penguins have Crosby and Malkin in the lineup, they are going for it,” Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek began. “They’ve got them in the lineup, we’re going for a Stanley Cup. Do you feel the same way with your team vis-a-vis Alex Ovechkin? Every year Alex Ovechkin is here, we’re going for it?”
“Yeah, I do. We do the same with Ovi and Backstrom,” MacLellan replied. “I think it’s our responsibility as ownership, as a management group to try and go for it every year. Try and do what’s best. In our minds, we have to maximize their careers and give them the best chance possible to win and be successful. So we do think that way too.”
During the Ovi and Backstrom Era in DC (2007-08), the Capitals have reached the playoffs in 12 of 13 seasons, incredibly won a Division title in 10 of those seasons, and won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Ovechkin has scored 730 goals, sixth all time, while Backstrom is approaching 1,000 points in his career.
Last year, MacLellan negotiated with Backstrom and the two came to an agreement on a five-year, $46 million extension, which kept the Swedish center in Washington through the 2024-25 season ($9.2M AAV).
Ovechkin’s contract extension has been trickier. The Great 8 is coming off a 13-year, $124 million deal ($9.5M AAV), which he managed to outperform. It’s unclear how many more years Ovi wants to play in the NHL, though he did say in a Russian language interview over the offseason he’d be willing to consider signing a deal up to five seasons.
Recently, Ovi was asked if he thought he’d end his career in Washington.
“We’ll see,” the captain replied.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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