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For the third consecutive year since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Washington Capitals exited early in the 2020-21 Stanley Cup playoffs this season and it was sort of shocking.
The Capitals finished the regular season tied at fifth in the NHL with 77 points, although injuries and suspensions hindered the goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup. Capitals’ owner Ted Leonsis and GM Brian MacLellan have big decisions to make in regards to who’s staying a Capital next year and who must go.
One thing is for certain though: Alex Ovechkin will more than likely stay as the Caps’ Captain.
The Capitals have had meetings with Ovechkin, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer. This comes as Ovechkin’s historic 13-year $124 million contract is about to come to an end. Ovechkin, 35, who is in the later stages of his career, has been adamant on finishing his career as a Capital.
During his exit-interview, Ovechkin stated: “Obviously, I want to finish my career here. I’m pretty sure we will do something soon. I’m confident. We still have time.” The Capitals already locked up Ovechkin’s longtime running mate Nicklas Bäckström last year with a five-year 46 million dollar contract extension to keep him all the way through 2025-26.
Sources close to the organization are hinting that Ovechkin will get a contract that aligns with Backstrom’s, which makes sense. The NHL players voted on the players in the league in categories on who is best at what and this season Ovechkin and Backstrom took home the honors for best shot (48.95%) and passer (20.72%).
During an interview with the Athletic, Leonsis spoke about Ovechkin: “Alex knows that if he plays five more years, 10 more years, whatever it is, we’ve got his back. Our commitment to him is to continue to have great teams. We’ll spend to the cap; we’ll try to win championships. And that’s what he’s focused on, because that will be his legacy.”
This statement alone sets in stone that the ball is in Ovechkin’s corner. That’s great news for the Capital faithful.
Ovechkin has done more than bring a championship to the nation’s capital: since he was drafted the popularity of hockey around the DMV has shifted upward tremendously. Early last month he invested in the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, showing signs of wanting to stay in the area.
Ovechkin on his efforts: “I support everybody in this town. Me and my wife love to go watch a soccer game, watch football and baseball. We all win. If I have this opportunity, I think it’s very important for me to do it, because it also shows we care.”
The decision to keep T.J. Oshie is one that must be made but with a long offseason ahead for the front office, everything will be thought out entirely. Again, Leonsis noted he wants to try and win championships. The only way to do so is getting the proper team that’s balanced and hungry. This makes the offseason a tall task to decide who will stay or go.