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.
Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance last season combined with his solid showing in 2013-14 gave the St. Louis Blues the confidence to sign him to a eight-year, $60 million contract.
With that the Blues are just about set for the 2015-16 campaign. They still need to re-sign restricted free agent Magnus Paajarvi, but that might be the only remaining action we see from them between now and the start of training camp.
That leaves St. Louis near the salary cap, but with a little bit of wiggle room, per General Fanager. The challenge will come next summer when David Backes and Troy Brouwer are set to become unrestricted free agents while Jaden Schwartz will test the restricted free agent market. Schwartz in particular will likely be expecting a big raise from his current $2.35 million cap hit, assuming he has another strong season after his 63-point 2014-15 campaign.
If the Blues intend to keep defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk then they’ll also need to account for the likelihood that he’ll ask for a big raise too once his current four-year, $17 million deal expires in the summer of 2017.
It sets up a scenario where St. Louis might be compelled over the next year or two to trade players they otherwise wouldn’t have to remain cap compliant.
The big X-Factor in this will be how much the ceiling rises, but as we’ve seen this year with the decline of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, big increases in the cap aren’t a given.
Related: Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors
After trading for Troy Brouwer earlier in the day, St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong added some depth via free agency Thursday evening.
The Blues signed free agent forward Kyle Brodziak and defenseman Peter Harrold to one-year deals.
Brodziak joins the Blues after spending the past six seasons with the Minnesota Wild. The 31-year-old scored 72 goals and 97 assists during his time with the Wild. He leaves Minnesota seventh all-time in games played (446) and eighth in points (169).
He is expected to be the Blues’ fourth line center next season.
Harrold joins the Blues after parts of four seasons with the New Jersey Devils. The 32-year-old was informed by Devils’ GM Ray Shero last weekend that he would not be re-signed.
In 43 games with New Jersey during the 2014-15 season, Harrold recorded three goals and two assists while averaging 15:15 a night in ice time. His deal is a two-way contract.
Related: Oshie on trade from St. Louis: ‘Changes had to be made’
The Washington Capitals continue to load up.
After signing Justin Williams on Wednesday, the Caps have acquired T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a 2016 third-round pick.
“T.J. is an outstanding skater with a tremendous skill set,” said Caps’ GM Brian MacLellan in a statement. “He is a powerful player and has consistent track record of production throughout his career in the NHL. We feel that he complements our core group nicely and can help us get to the next level in achieving our ultimate goal.
“We also want to thank Troy for his contributions to our organization on and off the ice and wish him well in St. Louis.”
Oshie has two years remaining on his five-year, $20.875 million deal, which carries a cap hit of $4.175 million. The 28-year-old had 19 goals and 55 points in 72 games last season.
With Oshie off the books, it gives Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong a little more room to work with in the on-going negotiations with restricted free agent forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
Brouwer, who has one year remaining on his three-year, $11 million deal, comes in at a cap hit of $3.6 million.
Copley went 17-4-3 in 26 appearances with the Hershey Bears in 2014-15 posting a 2.15 G.A.A. and a .925 save percentage. The 23-year-old was expected to challenge for the starter’s role in Hershey next season.
Related: Caps landing ‘affordable’ Williams a sign of the new free agency
Defenseman Patrick Wey worked his way through Boston College and made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals on Oct. 7, 2013 at the age of 22. After suffering multiple concussions though, he’s decided to hang up his skates, per the Capitals’ official website’s Mike Vogel.
He sustained his first concussion in what proved to be his final NHL game on March 30, 2014 during a fight with Predators forward Rich Clune. The fact that an experienced combatant like Clune agreed to spar with the rookie didn’t sit well with the Capitals.
“They had a little tangle before the fight and they were talking to each other a bit and Weysie seemed to be a willing combatant,” Troy Brouwer said at the time. “But at the same point guys who are known to be fighters, they have to have enough respect to pick their spots to know when guys are able to fight fighters.”
For his part, Clune reached out to Wey after the incident.
Wey was concussed again in Oct. 24 after absorbing a high hit from Jay Rosehill. He wasn’t able to return from that injury.