As Alex Ovechkin walked off the ice on Sunday after Game 5's season-ending loss to the Boston Bruins, some wondered if that would be his final game with the Capitals.
Despite being able to sign a contract extension as early as last offseason, Ovechkin entered the 2021 season without a new deal and remains unsigned. But Ovechkin remains confident a new contract will get done that will keep him in Washington.
"I'm confident, obviously," Ovechkin said Tuesday. "We still have time. Obviously I want to finish my career here. I'm pretty sure we will do something soon."
Ovechkin just finished a 13-year, $124 million contract he signed in 2008 which carried a cap hit of just over $9.5 million. Considered a massive deal at the time, Ovechkin was arguably underpaid the last few years relative to his talent and impact. Now he is dealing directly with owner Ted Leonsis and GM Brian MacLellan trying to work on a new deal.
Though there has never really been any reporting to indicate he was interested in leaving or that the Caps would not do whatever it took to bring him back, the way the process has dragged out has invited speculation and it could potentially drag out even further.
Now that it has reached the end of the season, there is an argument to be made for waiting to sign a new deal until after the NHL's upcoming expansion draft for the new Seattle Kraken. The expansion draft will take place before free agency begins and, by not signing Ovechkin, that would mean one less roster player the team would need to protect.
With free agency beginning soon after the draft, there is little point to the Kraken taking players who could simply leave in free agency days later.
When asked when he thought a deal would get done, Ovechkin smiled and said, "Maybe we'll sign contract right now after the meetings."
All kidding aside, the longer the process drags out, the more it invites speculation. But Ovechkin left no doubt where he stands in terms of how he feels about Washington.
"I want to finish my career here, and we still have time," Ovechkin said. "As soon as we're gonna do something, you will find out."