Alright Washington Capitals fans, put away your pitchforks and call off Tom Wilson! I am not saying Alex Ovechkin will leave D.C. However, I feel there is a good argument here. This season marked Ovi’s 16th season with the Capitals. Washington will do everything in its power to lock their captain down for life. You get the sense that Ovechkin is probably keen for this to happen as well. Last season unfortunately saw yet another early playoff exit and this is where a certain doubt starts to creep in.
This question begs a big discussion and Joe Martini and I will be debating the pros and cons of Ovechkin staying a Caps player.
Alex – Cons of Staying
You can literally bet your bottom dollar that Washington will throw a hefty payday at Ovechkin. His experience alone guarantees a huge contract. But money aside, let’s talk form for a moment. Aside from their glorious 2018 cup win, the Capitals have regularly struggled in the postseason. They are always contenders and during Ovi’s tenure, they have only missed the playoffs three times. Despite all these appearances they have only gotten beyond the conference semi-finals once. In fact, in the three seasons since that Cup victory, they have been knocked out in the first round each time.
The Capitals are a side who always seem to be regular season titans, but frequently looked lost or outmatched come crunch time. Ovi clearly loves this franchise and is a god to that fanbase. However, is he likely to add more championships playing for this team? His 2018 championship was met with a sigh of relief by hockey fans everywhere. This prevented him from joining the ranks of guys like Marcel Dionne, Paul Kariya and the Sedin twins- great players who couldn’t win a Stanley Cup.
The very fact that he’s won more Hart Trophies than championships is baffling! Ovechkin should look to leave Washington and join a Cup ready team that can give him that shot to win another title. For once, why not go for glory rather than the safe option? He will always be a legend in D.C but I feel come July 1st that he should consider all options.
Joe – Pros of Staying
Alex, I am not a gambling man but the Brinks truck should and will be backed up to sign Alex Ovechikin. While you are mentioning other great players let me take a chance to list some great players: Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, and Mario Lemieux. Common thread? They all played for one franchise throughout their career. While this has worked out well for some, and not the best for others I think Ovechikin has more value to the Caps than any other franchise.
One thing that I think can play into your argument: Evgeny Kuznetsov. There has been smoke out of the D.C. that Kuznetsov may be on the block. The pro is there would be more money for Ovi, the con is this could be the start of a rebuild. Also, if Kuznetsov is traded how will Ovi react to that move?
I think there are really only two options for Ovi:
Option 1: Stay with the Capitals, either on max 1 year deals or a 3 year deal that may be more team friendly, which would allow the Capitals (even if the Capitals move Kuznetsov) to add to the supporting cast around Ovi. I say 3 years because Ovi is currently the 7th leading goal scorer in the NHL, 164 away from tying Wayne Greztky. While 50 a year is tough to accomplish, if he rings off ~40 over the next 3 seasons he could do one last at 40 years old in the NHL only needing one last great season to be the greatest goal scorer in league history.
Option 2: Go back to Russia. Ovi has been outspoken about wanting to represent Russia at any international tournament. I think he could pull a Jaromir Jagr and go back home and be a Player/Owner. And continue to have a hand in the future crops of elite hockey players from Russia.
There are a lot of balls in the air for the Capitals, but if Ovi does decide to leave I believe it will be on his own terms. He got his Cup, but Ovi seems like his eyes are set to different goals since he has achieved his dream of winning a Stanley Cup. And when it comes to goals, we know Ovi knows how to rack those up.