With a flat salary cap, some expiring contracts and the Seattle expansion draft, this is going to be a busy offseason for the Capitals. To get you ready, Capitals writers Andrew Gillis and JJ Regan are breaking down the biggest offseason questions with their thoughts.
Today's question: What will Alex Ovechkin’s next contract look like?
Andrew: The short answer is, “Whatever Alex Ovechkin wants it to be.” The long answer isn’t much more complicated than that.
Ovechkin will certainly make more money than he did on his last deal, but he’ll be 36 years old on Sept. 17. The contract should be a good indication of how long Ovechkin thinks he wants to play in the NHL, since he’s said he doesn’t want to play for any team other than the Capitals in the NHL.
My expectation is that he’ll sign a three- or four-year deal worth $11 million. I can’t see him getting more than Connor McDavid ($12.5 million), and an $11 million deal would put him on the same level as John Tavares and Drew Doughty as tied for the fifth-highest paying contract in the NHL.
But no matter what contract Ovechkin signs, he’ll certainly have earned whatever the Capitals sign him to.
JJ: Let's get a couple of key points out of the way. First, I fully expect Ovechkin will re-sign. There is no reason to doubt that based on what he has said and what the team has said. Second, he's going to get a raise. I really hate the expectation many fans get that any player somehow owes it to a team to take far less than his market value, especially a guy like Ovechkin who has meant more to Washington than whatever his next contract ends up paying. Yes, the higher Ovechkin's cap hit, the less cap space for the rest of the team. That's understood, but if you think Ovechkin is going to sign for $8 or $9 million, you're kidding yourself.
My best guess would be Ovechkin re-signs for three or four years somewhere between $10 and $11 million. Ovechkin will turn 36 next season, but he was still the team's best scorer last year and remains the team's best player. When that ceases to be the case, the championship window will be closed and it won't much matter what his cap hit is then anyway.
Considering what he means to the franchise, whatever Ovechkin gets in his new contract will be earned and it's going to be in the double digits. That may put a squeeze on the team's cap situation, but the fact is they need some kind of a shakeup anyway if they want to continue to compete.