CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Alex Ovechkin
Position: Right Wing
Age: 28 [turns 29 Sept. 17]
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 230
Penalty Minutes: 48
Average Ice Time: 20:32
Contract Status: 7 years remaining on 13-year, $124 million contract [$9.538462 million cap hit, $10 million salary in 2014-15]
No-trade Clause: Beginning July 1 Ovechkin can provide Capitals with a list of 10 teams to which he will not accept a trade. That list can be modified every September in each subsequent year.
Strengths: Since he entered the NHL in 2005 no player has scored more goals more frequently than the Russian Machine – 422 of them in 679 games [.62 goals per game] and another 31 in 58 playoff games [.53 per game]. He is also the NHL’s most powerful weapon on the power play, where he led the league with 24 goals. Even with every player on the ice aware of where the puck is going it’s hard to find any player in the NHL who shoots the puck as hard and as accurately as Ovechkin. Ovechkin also adapted well to playing right wing in his two seasons under Adam Oates, rebounding from a pair of subpar seasons of 32 and 38 goals to lead the NHL in goals two straight years. Physically, Ovechkin is just as strong, if not stronger, than he was when he first entered the NHL, a tribute to his decision to alter his training methods in the offseason.
Weaknesses: No matter how you slice it, a minus-35 is ridiculous for someone who was on the ice for 107 of the Capitals’ 235 goals. Conversely, Ovechkin was also on the ice for 80 of the 240 goals the Caps allowed. On the surface that doesn’t sound too bad for a player who ranked 14th among NHL forwards in ice time [20:32] and first in power-play ice time [5:02]. But if you take away his significant presence on the man-advantage and look at his even-strength numbers, Ovechkin was on the ice for just 45 even-strength goals for and 80 goals against – thus his minus-35. Granted, Ovechkin is not solely to blame for every even-strength goal scored against the Capitals this season, but his resistance to backchecking is clearly evident and he’ll need to change that part of his game if he hopes to be recognized as something more than a one-dimensional goal scorer.
Memorable Moment: On Dec. 10 against the Tampa Bay Lightning Ovechkin reminded all of us just how dominant he can be, leading the Capitals back from a 3-0 deficit with a four-goal explosion in an eventual 6-5 shootout win. Ovechkin’s fourth goal came in the closing minute of regulation and gave him 48 goals in 50 games, dating back to last season. It also saved defenseman Mike Green from the embarrassment of taking three ugly penalties in the first period.
Quotable: “My job is to give everything that I can for this organization. I don’t want to think about a trade, I don’t want to think about if I’m going to be traded. I’m never going to ask to be traded. If it’s going to happen it’s not going to happen [through the media]. It’s going to happen to Ted or general manager because it’s personal and you have to be respectful with organization.” – Ovechkin on breakup day, April 14
2014-15 Expectations: The biggest question for the Capitals’ next general manager is whether the Capitals can win a Stanley Cup with Alex Ovechkin and the $9.5 million he eats up in salary space. If he believes they can, the next question falls on the Caps’ new coach, who must decide how best to utilize Ovechkin’s talents. That begins with whether the Caps are better with Ovechkin as a right wing or a left wing. A new coach could also mean limited ice time for the star captain when the Caps are holding leads late in hockey games. Still, judging on what he accomplished under Adam Oates, there’s no reason to think Ovechkin won’t flirt with 50 goals and 80 points again next season. Of course, finishing on the positive side of the plus-minus rating would be a big plus.