Alex Ovechkin will turn 30 years old in September. He started his NHL career in 2005-06 when the league came out of its second lockout and posted 52 goals and 106 points.
He’s coming off another 50-plus goal season in 2014-15. It’s the sixth time in his NHL career he’s accomplished the feat, including his 65-goal season in 2007-08. But the one thing that has eluded him in his time with the Washington Capitals is a Stanley Cup, much to the lamentation of the club’s owner Ted Leonsis.
“He’s a fantastic player. I think all of you in this room, don’t take Alex Ovechkin for granted. I think that happens sometimes. You see him all the time and there’s this repetitiveness about his greatness,” said Leonsis, as per CSN Washington.
“But when people from outside the organization come in, I think you heard that with Justin Williams, this is the best player in the league. He’s been that for the last 10 years. And the consistency that he has brought is really historical.
“He doesn’t miss games. He plays hard all the time and I feel I haven’t met my commitment to him, that we would build a team that would be able to win Stanley Cups. That we’re in it together.”
Eliminated by the New York Rangers after a seven-game, second-round series that went the distance in May, the Capitals have had a busy off-season trying to bolster their club to take a run at the Stanley Cup next year.
They signed unrestricted free agent forward Justin Williams, known for his penchant of scoring important goals in Game 7s, and then acquired T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a 2016 third-round pick the following day.
Oshie admitted in an interview with Mike Vogel of the Monumental Network that he’s unsure at this point in the summer of where he will fit into the Capitals lineup.
Less than a year ago, the Washington Capitals had no idea who would be their second-line center.
They know now.
It’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, the talented 23-year-old Russian who just signed a two-year extension with the club.
“I played good hockey but I have to play better,” Kuznetsov said, per CSN Washington. “I’ll try to focus on my game and what the coach tells me. If everybody does the right job probably something good will happen.”
Next season, the Caps could have a first line comprised of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, and a second line featuring Kuznetsov between Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams.
“[Kuznetsov] filled a hole at second-line center that we’ve been trying to fill for a number of years,” Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said in May.
With a defense headlined by John Carlson and Matt Niskanen, and with Braden Holtby in goal, you’ll excuse Caps fans for finding it difficult to contain their excitement.
Related: Caps landing ‘affordable’ Williams a sign of the new free agency
Coming off an impressive first full season in Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov has scored a new deal.
On Monday, the Caps announced they’d signed Kuznetsov to a two-year, $6 million extension with an average annual cap hit of $3M. The deal allows the two sides to avoid arbitration — the Caps had until today to file — and comes after the 23-year-old put together a solid rookie campaign, notching 11 goals and 37 points in 80 games to finish ninth among first-year players in scoring.
Kuznetsov, who was an RFA, was carrying a $900,000 cap hit on his old deal.
The move is just the latest from Caps GM Brian McLellan, who’s been a busy man of late. He made a splash in free agency by acquiring former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams, then orchestrated the T.J. Oshie trade shortly thereafter.
Previously, MacLellan suggested that Williams and Kuznetsov would play together on a line next season, along with Andre Burakowsky.
As for what’s up next — the Caps still need to reach new deals with two other RFAs: Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson.