Capitals

Even at 35, Ovechkin still has plenty left to add to his legacy

Capitals

The clock is ticking. Alex Ovechkin is entering the final season of his 13-year, $124 million contract that he signed back in 2008 with the Capitals. He just turned 35 - yes 35! - on Thursday. Unless he signs an extension, he will be a free agent in 2021.

Before you start freaking out with the thought of him leaving town, let's be honest with ourselves -- the odds of Ovi putting on another team's sweater are pretty slim.

Not only is he the greatest player ever to wear a Caps uniform, he also showed this past season he's got a lot left in the tank. There's still so much more for him to accomplish, and it clearly makes the most sense to do it in Washington. It would benefit both sides to come together quickly on these negotiations and move forward in the Peter Laviolette era.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with Alex," Laviolette said when he was introduced as the new head coach this week.

All I can think of is the Captain Obvious commercials when reading that kind of statement.

There isn't a coach in the world that wouldn't be excited.

That being said, the rumors are only going to grow until there's a new deal between the sides. That's how this thing works. Blame social media. Blame blogs. Blame Russian media gossip. Whatever you want, it's still how sports works.

Reports have his asking price up to $12 million a year, just under Connor McDavid’s $12.5 a season, which is the highest in the NHL. The business part is what leaves room for crazy what-ifs in this scenario, and Ovechkin's future with the team is no different in that aspect.

 

At some point, yes, Ovi's time in Washington will come to an end no matter how these contract talks end up, as it does with every legend. The more likely scenario is clearly that happens with him as a Washington Capital, and hopefully after a few more years on the ice. 

Athletes will talk about how they don't care about what people say about them, or how they're remembered, but I'm here to tell you -- (*leans in closely and whispers*) they...all...care.

There's nothing wrong with that by the way. Doesn't everyone want to be recognized for all the hard work they've put in, whatever it is you do for a living? Type-A personalities, especially. To be the best of the best at what you do, you have to have a strong competitive streak. 

Clearly, another Stanley Cup is at the top of the list for him. I'm sure privately -- and maybe even publically - he'd tell anyone the same thing. He's already a hero in D.C., but this would only make the future statue outside of Capital One Arena that much bigger.

There's also that long-term goal -- chasing Wayne Gretzky's goal scoring record.

Right now, Ovi is 188 goals shy from tying "The Great One". He certainly lost some important games when the NHL season was paused back in March, but it's still possible. In the end, 13 games won't make or break that quest. 

Having just turned 35, if Ovechkin were to play until he was 40 -- and given his re-commitment to fitness and the results we've seen that's not crazy -- he would need to average 37.6 goals per season.

Let's take a more conservative approach and say he only plays four more seasons. You're looking at about 47 goals a season to keep pace.

Three years gets you into crazy numbers, so I won't give you the math on that. 

Of course it's not easy, but it's possible.

Health is a factor, and so is Ovi's desire to keep throwing guys around the ice for the next few seasons.

Right now, if Ovechkin were to hang up his skates, he's the greatest Capital of all time, one of the greatest pure goal-scorers of all time, and a champion.

But, with what we saw this year during his chase for 700, he still has the ability to add even more to that resume, and it means so much more to a player's legacy when it's all accomplished with one organization. 

Whether or not Ovechkin decides to pursue it all still has to be determined, but as he celebrates another birthday and his career draws closer to the end than the middle, we'd all benefit from being able to witness that final chapter if he goes for it.