Tuesday's NHL: Capitals re-sign Alex Ovechkin to $47.5M, 5-year contract
Alex Ovechkin broke the news that he’s staying with the Washington Capitals in true Ovi fashion with five exclamation points.
Five more years and a chance to chase Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goal-scoring record.
Ovechkin re-signed Tuesday with the only NHL team he has ever played for, inking a $47.5 million, five-year deal. The superstar Russian winger who captained the Capitals to their only Stanley Cup championship in franchise history is now under contract through the 2025-26 season.
“I’M BACK DC !!!!!” Ovechkin tweeted with a picture of him holding up the signed contract surrounded by his family.
Ovechkin, who turns 36 in October, ranks fifth on the career goals list, 164 back of Gretzky’s record of 894 that was long considered unbreakable. Ovechkin would need to average almost 33 goals a season to catch Gretzky during this contract, which expires when he’s on the verge of his 41st birthday.
“Alex is the face of our franchise and is committed to this organization and this city,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “Alex embodies what our franchise is all about, and we’re thrilled that he will continue his career in the Caps uniform for the next five years.”
Ovechkin signed for one more season than most were expecting, extending him past longtime running mate Nicklas Backstrom’s contract that runs through 2024-25. The salary cap hit of $9.5 million — just below Ovechkin’s annual number during his $124 million, 13-year contract that’s expiring — allows MacLellan to keep a playoff- and Cup-contending core around him.
“Alex is a world-class athlete who will forever be regarded not only for leading the team to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup but also for inspiring the next generation of fans and youth players,” owner Ted Leonsis said. “Not only is he committed to the franchise but also to the community, and we look forward to seeing him in the Capitals uniform for years to come.”
Washington selected Ovechkin first overall in 2004, and since he made his debut in 2005, the Moscow native has scored 244 more goals than the next-closest player, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. His 1,320 points are second to Crosby, a longtime rival Ovechkin has been connected with since they broke into the league together.
Re-signing Ovechkin was one part of the Capitals’ offseason puzzle. The Capitals held off signing Ovechkin to a new deal until after the Seattle expansion draft so they could protect another player.
After losing goaltender Vitek Vanecek to the expansion Kraken, they unloaded salary Monday night by trading defenseman Brenden Dillon to Winnipeg for 2022 and 2023 second-round picks. They have less than $5 million in cap space and still need to sign restricted free agent goalie Ilya Samsonov to a new contract and add a backup.
Fleury on the move
Marc-Andre Fleury was traded from Vegas to Chicago, a stunning turn of events that has the NHL’s reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender contemplating his future.
The Golden Knights traded Fleury to the Blackhawks for minor league forward Mikael Hakkarainen in a salary dump. Fleury is set to count $7 million against the cap next season, the final year of his contract.
And that’s if he reports at all. Agent Allan Walsh tweeted, “Marc-Andre will be taking time to discuss his situation with his family and seriously evaluate his hockey future at this time.”
Fleury, 36, did not have Chicago on his 10-team no-trade list but did not want to play for any team other than Vegas. Chicago is certainly hoping to add him as the organization shifts from a rebuild into win-now mode.
It’s the first time in 20 years the reigning Vezina winner was traded before the next season. Buffalo traded Dominik Hasek to Detroit on the first day of free agency in 2001.
Fleury went 26-10-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .928 save percentage last season. He started 16 of the Golden Knights’ 19 playoff games over Robin Lehner, who is signed for four more seasons.