NHL Trade Speculation: Could the Capitals Be Willing to Deal Alex Ovechkin?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IDecember 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates up ice against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Verizon Center on December 20, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As the NHL trade deadline approaches, a number of big names are floating around the rumor mill. In Washington, the most popular name to supposedly hit the market is free-agent-to-be Alexander Semin, who will almost certainly be skating in a new sweater next season.

But there have been some pundits and fans out there that have asked the impossible question: would the Washington Capitals consider moving Alexander Ovechkin?

Ovechkin is struggling this year, as are the rest of the Caps. They've already made a coaching change after Bruce Boudreau and a number of players supposedly stopped seeing eye-to-eye. One of the players that appeared on film to have issues with Boudreau was Ovechkin.

"The Great 8" is off to perhaps the slowest start of his career. Through 34 games, Ovechkin has only 12 goals and 13 assists with a minus-eight plus-minus rating. Indeed, he has appeared to be a long way away from the Hart Trophy-winner he was just a few short years ago.

But would the Caps actually think about moving him?

The more appropriate question is could the Caps move him.

At 26, he should have a big part of the prime of his career left, but his numbers have been declining for more than just these past 34 games. Since scoring 65 goals in 2007-08, his production has fallen each season. His 32 goals last year represented the lowest total of his career; his previous low was 46, and that total was a dip of 18 goals from the previous season.

There's a bigger problem than Ovechkin's declining production, though.

Ovechkin is currently in the fourth season of a 13-year deal with a $9,538,462 cap hit. That astronomical deal also has a no-trade clause that kicks in before the 2014-15 season. Even if he was still a 50-goal, 110-point player, teams willing (or able) to add a contract that big are non-existant.

Ovechkin isn't the only superstar who has been underwhelming this year. But players like Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Rick Nash and others don't have the handicapping financial commitment attached to them that Ovechkin does.

It isn't likely that the Capitals would—or could—move Ovechkin.