A week ago today, Alex Ovechkin celebrated his 28th birthday, firmly placing him in the prime of his career.
“Of course it’s hard (to) realize you’re getting older. And, of course, you always want to be 24, 23 years old,” Ovechkin told the Canadian Press via NHL.com. “But it’s impossible. So you just move on.”
As star players get older though, what they still have left to accomplish becomes increasingly more glaring. On an individual level, Ovechkin has a lot to be proud of. He’s won the Hart Trophy three times, more than any player with the notable exceptions of Eddie Shore, Gordie Howe, and Wayne Gretzky.
Those players have something else on Ovechkin too: They’ve all won the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Ovechkin has never gotten past the second round.
He’s not the only great player that still hasn’t raised Lord Stanley’s Mug. The Sedin twins in Vancouver are 32 and have fallen short, and the same can be said for 34-year-old forward Joe Thornton. But of the guys around Ovechkin’s age or older that are lacking a championship, Ovechkin is arguably the greatest player.
Washington is a team with the tools to succeed, but they have a lot of company in that regard. Still, a year ago, Ovechkin appeared to be in a slow downward spiral and, with the help of new coach Adam Oates, he’s going into this season looking like an elite once more. Perhaps Oates can help Ovechkin and Washington make that final push.
Under Pressure: George McPhee
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.
The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)
It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.
Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.
Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.