Alexander Ovechkin Expected to End Career with Capitals, Owner Ted Leonsis Says

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena on December 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said Thursday he expects star forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to remain with the Caps for their entire NHL careers. 

"Alex is a very, very loyal person and so is Nick Backstrom and we want to create something where we're in it together," Leonsis told reporters. "Alex and I have spoken often about his career arc and the narrative and both those players have said they want to be different, they want to finish what they started, and they would like to be in this community for their entire careers. So we'll work on that."

The Backstrom situation is more pressing in the short term. He's in the final season of a 10-year, $67 million contract signed in 2010 after he posted a career-best 101 points during the 2009-10 campaign.

Although he's never reached triple digits in scoring again, he's remained a key cog in the Capitals offense for the duration of the deal. His 636 points since the start of the 2010-11 season rank ninth in the NHL, six spots behind Ovechkin (715 points), per Hockey Reference.

Signing his first major contract so early in his career means he's still at an age (32) where he could command lucrative long-term offers should he hit the free-agent market next summer.

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The Capitals clearly want to keep him, however, and his faith in a deal getting done is evidenced by entering contract talks without an agent.

"I feel like I've been here long enough and I feel like I've seen everything, and I don't think it's anything to hide," Backstrom said in early December. "We will see what happens here moving forward. We will see what happens. I just believed that I wanted to do this myself. I feel like I have a good enough relationship with the organization that we can be honest and talk, and that is how it is."

Meanwhile, Ovechkin is in the penultimate season of his 13-year, $124 million contract with the Caps.

Washington was lucky to strike gold with both its decade-plus investments, but other teams weren't as fortunate (see: Rick DiPietro), which led to the maximum contract length being reduced to seven years (eight if a player is re-signing with his current team).

Ovechkin is 34 but remains the NHL's most lethal goal scorer. He led the league by lighting the lamp 51 times during the 2018-19 campaign and is on pace for 52 goals through 33 games this season.

He was named the MVP of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final after leading the Capitals to the first championship with a five-game triumph over the Vegas Golden Knights. Winning a title cemented his place as one of the best hockey players in history, if it wasn't solidified already.

Washington is rolling right along again this season with an NHL-high 51 points. The team success paired with continued strong play from Backstrom and Ovechkin leaves little reason to believe either player would leave as a free agent over the next few years.

The championship window is still wide open in the nation's capital.