NHL Trade Speculation: 5 Signs Alex Ovechkin Has Run out of Time in Washington

Robert Wood@@bleachRWreachrCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 5 Signs Alex Ovechkin Has Run out of Time in Washington

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    Alexander Ovechkin is the best player on the Washington Capitals. He is the captain of the team and the face of the franchise.  

    Ovie has played 604 total games for the Capitals since his rookie year in 2005-06, and already has 339 career goals and 679 career points. He has led the Caps to the playoffs each of the last five seasons and has 30 goals and 59 points in 51 career playoff games.  

    But has the Great Eight worn out his welcome?

    Here are five signs that Alex Ovechkin doesn't have much time left in Washington.  

5. Overpaid and Underproductive

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    Over the past two seasons, Alex Ovechkin has not been the dominant scorer he once was.  

    During the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Alex scored fewer than 40 goals for the only two instances in his career. 

    But the Washington Capitals cannot afford for Ovechkin to slump offensively. The contract Alex Ovechkin signed with the team in 2008 was a landmark deal, paying him a total of $124 million over 13 years. And so his offensive decline becomes even more glaring when analyzing Alex's spending efficiency, as calculated by NHLnumbers.com.  

    In 2008-09, the first full year of the mega-deal, Ovechkin scored 11.532 points per million dollars. The following year, Ovechkin was even more efficient, scoring 11.986 points per million. 

    But 2010-11 saw a significant decline in spending efficiency, falling to 8.911 points per million dollars.  And during the 2011-12 season, Alex became even more fiscally burdensome, scoring only 7.204 points per million dollars. 

    If Alex Ovechkin's numbers continue this downward trend, the Washington Capitals will need to cut their losses. 

4. Playoff Failures

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    The Capitals have made the playoffs in five straight seasons.  

    But they have yet to advance to the Conference Finals, let alone the Stanley Cup Finals.  

    They were knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals twice and are 2-4 in Game 7s.  

    And one of those Game 7 losses was against the No. 8 seed Montreal Canadiens, after the Capitals entered the playoffs with the No. 1 overall seed as the Presidents' Trophy winner.  The Caps led that series 3-1 after four games.  

    Eventually, these failures fall at the feet of the team's captain.  

3. Rise of the Grinders

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    The identity of the Washington Capitals has changed.  

    Now the most respected players on the team are so-called grinders.

    Matt Hendricks barely made the team for the 2010-11 season. But over the next two years, Matt's hard work and versatility have made him a favorite of teammates, coaches and fans alike. This Minnesotan was somehow able to be the team's resident enforcer while also being the Capitals' secret weapon in the shootout.  

    Troy Brouwer was signed by the Capitals in the offseason after winning a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 to provide secondary scoring, toughness and playoff experience. This season, the Vancouver native did just that. Brouwer totaled 18 goals and 33 points, 61 PIMs with five fighting majors and four points in the playoffs including the game-winning goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.   

    Jason Chimera is a grinder in a sniper's body. This native of Edmonton is one of the fastest skaters in the league but may be better known for his grit and toughness. Jason set a career-record with 20 goals this season, while leading the team with two short-handed goals. He also racked up 78 penalty minutes with three fighting majors

    As these three players change the team's identity from that of the high-flying offenses under Bruce Boudreau, the highly-skilled players such as Alexander Ovechkin are being pushed to the side.  

2. Fall of the Snipers

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    To complete their transformation from white collar to blue collar, the Capitals need to phase out the snipers.  

    The first to go will be Alexander Semin.  

    A fellow Russian, Sasha has put up good offensive numbers in his career.  He has 197 goals and 408 points in 469 regular season games.  Semin eclipsed the 30-goal mark three times and the 40-goal mark once.  

    But like Ovechkin, his production has declined the last two seasons, scoring a total of 49 goals in that period. His 21 goals in 2011-12 was his lowest total since his rookie season. And Semin has scored half as many playoff goals as Ovechkin in the same number of games.  

    Alex Semin recently opted for free agency. His agent Mark Gandler saw the writing on the wall, as he told ESPN The Magazine:

    It was good while it lasted. With the lack of playoff success, with the direction they are going. They decided to change directions. That's within their rights. Alex doesn't fit into that system obviously.  

    Alex Ovechkin needs to hear this message loud and clear.  

1. Coaching Carousel

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    Alex Ovechkin has now had four coaches in his seven-year career with Washington. 

    But the recent hiring of Adam Oates marks the third Capitals head coach since November 2011.

    And each coach has a different coaching style.

    Bruce Boudreau preached offense first and his Capitals became a regular-season juggernaut. But his failure to stress defense was his downfall. 

    Dale Hunter emphasized defensive responsibility, a neutral zone trap and aggressive forechecking. 

    Adam Oates is a rookie head coach in the NHL and has yet to establish a coaching style. But based on his playing style and assistant coaching duties in New Jersey, expect Oates to focus on defensive responsibility and the power play.    

    So far, these coaching changes have not yielded the desired postseason results. If getting rid of a coach doesn't work for the Washington Capitals, then they must get rid of their best player instead.