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Tyler Lewington is still working up the courage to ask Ovechkin for an autograph

Tyler Lewington is still working up the courage to ask Ovechkin for an autograph

On Thursday, New York Jets players swarmed Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson after a game looking for an autographed jersey from the star quarterback. With Jackson in the midst of a breakout season, players see history in the making and are hoping to get a piece of it. The same happens in hockey. Autograph requests are nothing new for an all-time great like Alex Ovechkin, but that doesn’t mean it is not still nerve-wracking to ask, even for his teammates.

Tyler Lewington is currently playing in the AHL, but he has spent much of the 2019-20 season in the NHL with the Capitals. Despite being a teammate of Ovechkin’s, he still feels a bit nervous around the superstar forward, too nervous, in fact, to ask for an autograph.

Lewington was a guest In a recent episode of The Old Barn Hockey Show which focuses on the Hershey Bears. During the show, one of the hosts asked Lewington if he had ever thought about asking Ovechkin for an autograph or a stick and how he would go about that as a teammate.

Lewington responded that he had not yet worked up the courage yet.

“I definitely want to get a stick,” he said. “It’s something I need to ask him one day. Too scared right now to ask him, but I’ll get there.”

Lewington has five career fights at the NHL level, 35 in the AHL, two in the ECHL and 34 in the WHL. He is a man who is not afraid to throw down and have an actual fistfight with other hockey players, but he still feels a bit nervous around the Great 8.

That just shows the level of respect Ovechkin has, not just within the game, not just among the players, but even within his own locker room.

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Capitals Mailbag Part 1: What does Washington's salary cap situation look like for next season?

Capitals Mailbag Part 1: What does Washington's salary cap situation look like for next season?

It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! Check out Part 1 below.

Have a Caps question you want answered in the next mailbag? You can submit your questions here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

Joe Collins writes: I know it may be a bit too early for this question, but has there been any discussion on any possible compensation for teams that traded draft picks for players who were on expiring contracts in the event the season gets canceled? If the season were to not be completed the Caps would've traded a 2nd and 3rd rounder for 10 games with Brenden Dillon and another 3rd rounder for seven games with Ilya Kovalchuk. I am sure many other teams are in similar, if not worse, positions. Any thoughts on how these teams should/may be compensated?

It does seem early to talk about this as the season has not been canceled and it is only April 1, but I'll play along.

This will be an unpopular opinion, but I don't think any team that made trades for rentals without conditions should be entitled to any compensation. I understand that these are extenuating circumstances, but the Caps would not have been entitled to any compensation had the season gone on as normal and they missed the playoffs so why should they be entitled to anything now? Or how about if they got injured and they weren't able to play? Teams would not be entitled to anything in that situation either. The fact that you might not have them for very long is the risk you run with rental players. When teams trade for players on expiring contracts, they are hopeful they will get a long postseason run out of them, but you do it with the understanding that you could potentially only get those players for a handful of games.

To me, a much bigger issue will be what to do with trades that had conditions attached, like when draft picks are tied into how far a team goes into the postseason. When you have agreed on conditions based on the traditional season and postseason format and that changes, those are circumstances which I do feel a team would be entitled to some form of compensation. I don't know exactly what that would look like as I don't know how the season will be formatted when it returns, but compensatory draft picks would make the most sense to me. That way a team that promised to give away a draft pick doesn't have to based on whatever the postseason looks like and teams still get to recoup picks. Sure, that may mean more draft picks in, let's face it, what is already a heavily diluted draft, but the coronavirus has affected how teams scout the end of the season, taking away scouting trips and with minor junior and college leagues canceling their postseason. Add some compensatory picks so teams can take a shot at players they may not have scouted as much as they would like.

Jack Ryan writes: If the season doesn’t get canceled, wouldn’t all UFA’s be available to sign come July 1?

That is among the many logistical issues with a delayed season, but the league is aware of it. In a conference call Monday, Brian MacLellan said the league had discussed player contracts being extended to August this year if the league returns and plays into the summer. The NHLPA would have to approve that, but considering the revenue at stake, there is no reason why it wouldn't.

The league has a lot of very good lawyers to worry about these kinds of things. There is no scenario where a plan is in place, the league starts up and then oops! No one figured out that player contracts expire before the playoffs are supposed to end. What a pickle! I am sure there are minor things that may slip through the cracks, but something as significant as player contracts will be sorted out before the puck drops again.

Bill Bridge writes: Assuming the cap stays where it is and Braden Holtby is gone, the Caps would be in good shape. They'd have enough room to field basically the same group of forwards minus Kovalchuk, sign a vet goalie to back up Ilya Samsonov and even re-sign Brenden Dillon to a $3.5-$4 million contract if they wanted to go that route. Thoughts?

Not including restricted free agents, the Caps have 11 forwards, four defensemen and one goalie under contract for next season. If the salary cap stays the same -- which would be my guess, I can't see it going up at this point and I don't think either the NHL or NHLPA wants it to go down -- Washington would have about $10.4 million to work with to sign a high-end backup/tandem goalie to go with Samsonov, sign a third-line winger (because Richard Panik certainly looks like a fourth-line player at this point), give Jonas Siegenthaler a raise and sign one or two additional defensemen (only one if Martin Fehervary is ready to step in). Even with Holtby off the books, things are going to get tight very quickly.

I think Brian MacLellan has done a masterful job with this roster and he has been as good a general manager as anyone during his tenure, but the fact he has given out a lot of long-term deals for veterans with the thought that those cap hits would look better with each passing year with the cap continuing to steadily rise. When the cap stays in place, that has major ramifications not just for next year but for how this team has projected its cap out over the next few years. That is hugely important considering Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana's current contracts expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.

I think it makes sense to try to re-sign Dillon if they can, but I think he could probably get more on the open market and signing him is not just about getting his contract to fit in next year, it's about getting it to fit beyond next season with Ovechkin and Vrana re-signed. Ovechkin's cap hit will probably be about the same, but Vrana has clearly earned himself a gigantic raise.

Thanks for all your questions! Part 2 of the mailbag will be coming on Thursday. If you have a question you want to be answered in the next mailbag, you can submit it here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 8

With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 8

While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 8, a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 13 that featured another milestone for the Great 8, a shutout for the rookie goalie and the 500th game of Tom Wilson’s career. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

Two players carried the Capitals on the evening. It was clear early on that Alex Ovechkin brought his “A” game. About 12 minutes into the first, Ovechkin started the Caps’ attack by carrying the puck into the zone and flipping it to the corner. Tom Wilson recovered and found Ovi back in front of the net. Ovechkin beat Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek five-hole to get Washington on the board. 

  

The Caps managed to draw four penalties on Carolina in the first period, and took advantage of the last one. John Carlson won a battle along the boards and sent the puck to Jakub Vrana at the blue line. Vrana passed to Alex Ovechkin in his office and Ovi did the rest. 

  

And that was all the scoring on the night. Ilya Samsonov made sure the lead stuck, stopping all 23 shots from Carolina. Tip of the cap to Mrazek who deserved a better fate in this game. Mrazek made the save of the night, using a “scorpion” move to deny Carl Hagelin a goal. 

 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS 

Samsonov had another stellar night, even if he didn’t have to do a whole lot. This was his first career shutout, and so far, the only shutout the Capitals have had all season. It was Samsonov’s 13th win in 15 games. He ran his win streak to eight straight. Over those eight games, Samsonov had a GAA of 1.62 and a save percentage of .942. His best save of the night came in the first on Jordan Martinook. 

  

The goalie controversy that had been simmering for a month boiled over after this game. Even though Todd Reirden never officially announced it, Samsonov became the effective #1 goalie when the team returned from the All-Star break. Braden Holtby would reclaim his spot later in February. 

 WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT 

We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of an amazing run for Ovechkin. His two goals against the Hurricanes were the start of a stretch of 14 goals in seven games. His first goal of the night was the 685th of his career, which passed Teemu Selanne for 11th on the all-time list. In the span of three weeks, Ovechkin would end up alone in eighth place with 698 career goals. 

WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT 

This game was also an important win for the Capitals because they were coming off their worst game of the season, a 5-1 loss to New Jersey. During that loss, Reirden called a timeout to rip into his team. The Capitals responded as expected to get back on the winning path. 

For Tom Wilson, this was career game No. 500. On Caps Overtime Live it led to a debate over favorite Tom Wilson moments. Instead of going with his goal in Game 4 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, or perhaps another postseason goal, our Grant Paulsen went off the board a bit. Grant chose his fight with Brayden Coburn in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals. It was a fight that inspired twitter gifs and novelty t-shirts. 

 

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