Will the Capitals ever be able to win it all with Ovechkin?

Would you trade Alex Ovechkin if you were Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee? Or would it be over Caps owner Ted Leonsis’s dead body?

Leonsis is paying Ovie $9 million for two more years, then seven years at $10 million. He loves the Russian forward. It’s mutual, certainly twice a month, on payday.

But is Ovechkin ever going to lead the Capitals to the Promised Land? People who know Ovie say he now looks overwhelmed by the expectations and the series of playoff losses that are wearing him down. It doesn’t look like the sheer joy of playing the game is there any longer.

His coaches have tried to get him to be a more well-rounded player, to play safer, to learn how to play when he doesn’t have the puck, but there is still some push-back there.

To watch him play Dale Hunter hockey, throwing himself in front of shots was entertaining, if not inspiring. He tried to be sounder, but really, is Ovechkin ever truly going to know how to check, to be defensively responsible?

It was very telling, also humbling, that in games when the Capitals were trying to protect a lead during these playoffs that Hunter kept Ovechkin on the bench. He has played more than 500 NHL games over seven seasons and is in his prime at age 26. He is not the Rangers’ Chris Kreider in his first NHL playoff rodeo.

But trading Ovechkin is not as farfetched today as it was a few years ago, though.

Jaromir Jagr was traded after five scoring titles in 11 years in Pittsburgh, in his prime at 29, albeit under different cir*****stances. The Penguins were looking to dump salary and they took back Michal Sivek, Ross Lupaschuk, Kris Beech and futures in 2001. There were no stars there.

Somebody asked the other day if you’d trade Rick Nash for Ovechkin. The Columbus Blue Jackets need somebody with marquee value to put fannies in the seats and the Caps get a top-three forward who’s arguably better away from the puck. Nah. that’ll never happen.

So how did the New York Rangers trade Scott Gomez to the Montreal Canadiens when nobody else wanted him?


13 Responses to Will the Capitals ever be able to win it all with Ovechkin?

  1. LeafsNation4Ever says:

    Is there a team that'll take Ovie? That needs him? And what could they possibly pay for him? No doubt it'll be huge.. I can't imagine a team that would want him though.. and besides, the Capitals team is built around Ovechkin. It counts on him to get things done, every night. 

  2. Steven_Leafs says:

    I'm pretty sure 29 teams would trade for him. Assuming those teams dont nuke their club completely I cannot see a GM say "We don't want him".

  3. FlamingHomer says:

    There seems to be an ongoing problem with coaches coming in and implementing THEIR system instead of setting up a style that brings out the strengths of the existing team.
    It wasn't too long ago that the argument on who the best player in the world was- Sidney or Alex. How does a coach justify playing someone like that under 20 minutes a game?

    As stated above, every GM in the league would want Ovechkin at almost any price.

  4. Steven_Leafs says:

    I'm ok with coaches implementing their systems and making the players learn them I mean if your team is getting knocked out of the playoffs in the 1st or 2nd round when your superstar is getting 25+ minutes a game then something else needs to be tried but I agree that playing Ovechkin less than 20 minutes a game was a mistake.

    Shuffle the lines, try him on the other wing, get him in front of the net in the offensive zone, do anything different you want but give the guy ice time for crying out loud. lol

  5. LeafsFTW17 says:

    The problem I have with what has been going on with Ovechkin is that coaches tried to change him. 

    He was the best player in the world at a time, had 3 consecutive 50 goal, 100+ point seasons, one with 65 goals (Mario Lemuix was the last to score more than that which was in 1995-96).

    And then he was starting to be criticized on his defensive part of his game, which shouldn't matter when he is coming off of a season with a plus/minus of 45. 
    This is when it became the coaches job to change the best player in the world into a two-way player. Ovechkin started seeing less ice-time which lead to less scoring chances which lead to less goals. This transition made him go from the best goal scorer in the world to just a good offensive player who struggles in his own end.

    Back when he was a 50 goal, 100 point player no one cared about his defensive struggles but since he isn't putting up huge offensive numbers anymore his defensive game is being criticized and he is now being questioned as one of the best players in the NHL.

    So in conclusion, I'd say that it would be a mistake for the capitals to trade him but a new team would probably be best for Ovechkin. If we ever want to see him being a Rocket Richard winner again, he needs to be playing the ice-time he deserves and that he used to get. 

  6. LeafsFTW17 says:

    There are 53 teams that want Ovechkin, 24 of them being in the KHL. No team would say that they don't have a need for him.

  7. JoelLeafs says:


    The problem I think is that the style of play the NHL has evolved towards is more conducive to good 2-way play. However, if you have one of the most gifted offensive players in decades I don't get trying to make them into something they are not. Ovi is great, that doesn't mean he should be a defender or a goalie. Seriously, let him take the long shifts and play all he wants if it means tons of goals. 
    Fact is Ovi hits, scores, and terrifies defenders all over the place; don't make him sacrifice goals for defensive play. It's like Torts benching Gaborik. I get that you want to send a message, but seriously, in a gun fight you should use your biggest guns until the ammo runs out.
  8. toronto77 says:

    Ovechkin is a great player and contributor, but I don't think he's a good leader. I don't know what it is about russian players being almost one dimensional offensive players, like ovi and semin, although Ovi does bring a physical game sometimes, but there are few russian players in the league that are great leaders like malkin and datsyuk. A rare russian leader in yakupov is soon to come into the league and a poor russian leader in Grigorenko as well.

    I think Ovi will be a great no.2 guy, but not number 1. he will fight hard for you, but he won't die for you, and that's the mentality you need to be a captain, and what kills washington is not that ova doesn't have that mentality, it's that they don't have that mentality in their top 6.
  9. LeafsNation4Ever says:

    Well, other dude already said it, but you'd nuke your own club to get him – are you willing to take that risk? You get Ovie, and spend half a decade trying to rebuild your roster/future. Is there anyone willing to do that?

  10. thisgamewelose says:

    Some teams play a better open-Ice style than others. Washing was that team. After being eliminated so many times, they tried to change them to be a more well-rounded playoff team. I think they did a pretty good job at being defensive during this playoff run, but it's not a style they're comfortable with.  I keep hearing that "when Ovi is going, the entire team is going." Ovi can't skate around and wait for plays to come to him. He's the guy you don't want to face 1 on 1, not the guy who has to come out of his zone with the rest of his team 5 on 5.  If they want to play that way, then they need to get the puck deep, then find Ovi in the slot. Ovi can't be the one trying to fight along the boards.  Ovi got trashed a lot during this season, but more of the games I watched, he still looked good. He just didn't get the chances that he's use to getting. It seemed like he had to fight for every chance.  Reverting back to a more open-Ice style would benefit Ovi, the problem is can they go deep in the playoffs and possibly win the cup playing that style? I don't think Ovi will ever be successful playing a defensive style. 

  11. LeafsFTW17 says:

    This is going to sound really weird coming from a leaf fan but Ron Wilson would be a good coach for the capitals.

    Sounds crazy, but here is why it would work:

    He brings out the most offence out of players, like in 05-06 for example. Joe Thornton put up 125 points, Cheecho put up 56 goals! 

    The Capitals have Backstrom, who is similar to Thornton in the way that he is a top play making center and they have Ovechkin who is no question better than Cheecho was.

    Ovechkin plays best on a rush attack, similar to what Wilson was doing that had Kessel on pace for 50 goals.
    I think that we would see Ovechkin and Backstrom put up huge offensive numbers if he was the coach but I don`t know how far that would take them in the playoffs, he isn`t known to be a good playoff coach.

    Also he coached in Washington for 5 years. 

  12. reinjosh says:

    There is just a little too much placed on being a two-way player. Yes those types of players are great, but you won't find that in every prospect/player you have. Some players are just going to be the big time scorers and that's ok. 

    I get the whole trying to make sure the player doesn't become bigger than the team but trying to change the most prolific scorer in the game into Datsyuk just isn't going to work. Let him play his game and work a system that can support him.
    As a fantasy owner of Ovechkin, it pisses the F out of me that coaches try that. 
  13. Kessel_Leafs48 says:

    Exactly what I've been saying, hit it right on. One thing I'd like to add is that he's trying to convert to a more power forward style, he's not trying to be as creative as he used to be when he was the 60 goal scorer, he has the skill, he needs to use it more instead of just his size

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