Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price could easily be two of the best players at their respective positions to never win the National Hockey League’s biggest prize; the Stanley Cup. However, it is at no fault of their own.
Let’s first take a look at Ovechkin. The Russian forward was the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft. He has been one of the most dominate players in the league netting 1035 points in his 12 year career. Ovechkin has set countless NHL records along with records for the Capitals. Yet, there has always been a thorn in his side that makes people take a player like Penguins Sidney Crosby in the greatest player debate. That thorn; him never lifting Lord Stanley above his head.
For Ovechkin, it may stay that way. Partly due to his current contract. Ovechkin signed a 13-year contract extension worth $124 million with the Capitals in January of 2008. The contract will keep him with the Capitals until he is 36. While deserving of a big time contract for his play, he now keeps eating away at his team’s salary cap. Also keeping the teams hands tied is the modified “no trade clause” which was included into the contract. It gives Ovechkin the ability to give them a list of 10 teams that he can’t be traded to. Which now makes them have to search for a team that would be able to take on an ageing player and his big contract.
That is not to say he wouldn’t be worth it for a team…that wasn’t in contention. However, for a team that would be in contention it probably wouldn’t be. The goal is to win a Stanley Cup, going to a Carolina Hurricane or Buffalo Sabres wouldn’t fit him. You would be looking at teams like your Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, or New York Rangers. Which yes, I’m aware this wouldn’t happen, they’re examples.
Then there is goaltender Carey Price, who unlike Ovechkin could actually have a shot at adding the title of Stanley Cup winner to his resume. Price will be 30 years-old by the time the new seasons rolls around. He also goes into his last year of his contract with the Canadiens. Price also has all the power in the world to where he plays next. See unlike Ovechkin, Price has a team that is seemingly being run improperly. Big example, trading away the big named and dominate defenseman P.K. Subban to the Predators. Guess who is still playing in the playoffs at this moment?
Think about it like this, this scenario is courtesy of Erik Liljekvist.
Start watching what the front office is doing to bring in more talent and make the team better. What are they doing to improve. Then at the start of the new season Price tells media and everyone else his main focus on the season is to bring a Stanley Cup back to Montreal. Go about your business but still keep watch of what the front office is doing, how they handle themselves at the trade deadline and all of that. Are they still trying to improve the team?
If a playoff run is unsuccessful, you can sit down and look at the team. Did they improve and make things better where you are willing to stay and help out, or is it maybe time to move on if the front office shows little process in making the team better? It isn’t like there are teams who couldn’t use him.
Price has had posted numbers that would attract most teams looking for a goaltender to him. In his career he has registered a record of 270-175-55 with a .920 save percentage and 2.40 goals against. Price posted his best season hands down in the 2014-15 season. He collected 44 wins, a .933 SV%, and a 1.96 GGA. That same season he also won the Hart, Jennings, Pearson, and Vezina trophies for his efforts in net. The Canadiens and Price made it to the second round of the playoffs before being bested by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
So he would be worth the money a team would invest in him. Then brings up the question, where would he go? Well, what team has 10 million dollars invested in their goaltenders until the 2017-18 season when Price’s contract is up?
The Dallas Stars
Right now the Stars have goaltender Kari Lehtonen on the books for 5.9 million dollars. They also have goaltender Antti Niemi for another 4.5 million dollars. 10 million dollars worth of goaltenders which goes away after the 17-18 season, just in time for Price to hit the market. No offense to either Lehtonen or Niemi, but Price is statically a better goaltender and looks much better to a team. The Stars would be a good place for Price to land. The team has the right players and has young talent that are developing, they have the right pieces, just need a good goaltender, price could easily be the man.
Ovechkin and Price are running the risk of going down as two of the greatest players to never win a Stanley Cup. I think Ovechkin, like Jaromir Jagr, will play the game of hockey until he wakes up and is bored with it. How long he plays hockey in the NHL is debatable, but even though the Russian is 31 years-old I still think he has playing a full season in him. He is seeking a Stanley Cup, but may have to jump through some hoops to get it. Price on the other hand holds his future in his hands. He can go straight to a team he thinks is being built successfully and can help them and obtain his name being engraved on Lord Stanley.