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Trade Ovechkin? One former NHL coach thinks “it’s possible”

May 21, 2012, 3:37 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals walks off the ice after warm ups before Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) Getty Images

A professional athlete can go from face of the franchise to the trading block in a very short period of time – just ask Rick Nash or Roberto Luongo.

But has it really come to that for Alex Ovechkin in Washington? Once again the Capitals failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs after coming into the season with Stanley Cup aspirations. And unlike past postseason failures, this time the captain spent a lot more time on the bench, finishing with just five goals in 14 games.

“I think it’s possible (he gets traded),” one former NHL coach told the Edmonton Journal. “I think it would have to be a New York or maybe even a Montreal with the owner (Geoff Molson) there.”

That’s just one opinion. Personally I don’t see it. Not yet anyway. Let’s not forget Ovechkin still scored 38 times in 2011-12, the fifth most goals in the league. And he did it without Nicklas Backstrom for half the season.

More importantly, for all the criticism he’s faced, Ovechkin’s still the main reason the Capitals are a thriving franchise. Before he arrived in 2005, Washington was an afterthought in the NHL. The team was bad. Attendance was miserable.

Today the Capitals are one of the league’s showcases. If they trade Ovechkin, they risk becoming just another team again. (No offense to Backstrom, who’s good but has one tenth the star power.)

That said, I could see a point in the somewhat near future where Ovechkin moves on. Clearly he’s been unhappy at times the last few years as the Caps made the sweeping transition from run and gun to dump it in and fall back.

If that’s the way the team is going to play from now on, i.e. a style that diminishes his strengths and magnetizes his weaknesses, it’s not hard to picture him requesting a trade. Again, these things can escalate quickly in professional sports.

But that’s a big if. For now, an Ovechkin trade seems inconceivable.

Related: Alex Ovechkin cryptically refers to “jealousy” in Caps locker room

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 21, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    I don’t think there’s any question about whether he will finish his career somewhere else. But he will be in Washington for the next 4 or 5 years in all likelihood.

    • sjshark714 - May 21, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      If he’s going to be there, and he’s going to be eating up the most money… why not bend the system to fit his style more… instead of waste his talents and piss off the fans who want to see him score. The teams with the success this year have been defense first… yes… but that doesn’t mean an offense-first style, executed properly by a good crop of talent (which is obviously there) can’t beat the boring tried and tested ‘new jersey’ style. Having a kid with some real drive between the pipes there to back up that style would help, and maybe Holt will be that guy. If you have the right tools to become an offensive powerhouse, don’t get scared and try to add defense… buy into it EVEN MORE.

  2. Kristenaux - May 21, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Just to begin, *if* he spent a lot of time on the bench then how is he held responsible for bad play? I don’t think you’re going to see Washington be so stupid as to trade Ovie, their face & the guy who fills their seats, even when slumping. They will build something around him and be viable again.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 21, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      They control him for basically his entire career. They’ll get his best years out of him and then ship him to a team where he’ll be a piece of a contender instead of the main guy.

  3. greatminnesotasportsmind - May 21, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    With a 9.5 million cap hit, it’s almost impossible to trade him.

    • stakex - May 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      Not when the guy with that cap hit is name Alex Ovechkin. Even if he doesn’t play up to that value, hes more then worth it from a marketing stand point.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - May 21, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        At 9.5 million cap hit, no way would the Caps come even close to get anything of fair value for him. Thus the Caps will have zero chance of trading him. They would not move him and his marketability for not a lot in return.

      • stakex - May 21, 2012 at 7:34 PM

        His cap hits not THAT big a deal. Again, its Alex Ovechkin… not Scott Gomez or Wade Redden. A huge cap hit is something teams will deal with for super star talent.

        And hey, if Gretzky can be traded…. anyone can be traded.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 21, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Hopefully the new CBA allows teams to eat salary so we can see all kinds of crazy deals.

    • jimw81 - May 21, 2012 at 5:35 PM

      Ask Mike Richards or Jeff Carter if you can get traded. The only problem is AO contract it’s not front loaded.

  4. stakex - May 21, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Will such a trade happen this year? Probably not. However I wouldn’t be suprised to see it in the near future. A few points to support such a possible move:

    1. Ovechkin is clearly not happy with the direction the Caps have gone, and its clear their new style does not fit his game at all. Who wants to waste the prime years of their career playing for a team thats killing their game?

    2. Washington is spending $9.5 million a season on a player who doesn’t fit their new team vision. If they are going to stick with defense first second and third hockey… it might make a ton of sense to trade to Ovi to a more up temp team in return for more defesneive minded players that will function in their system better.

    3. The winds of change might be blowing in Washington already. Semin is likely gone, and many others could be on the way. One thing I would say would keep Ovi in Washington is that hes close with a lot of his teammates (Semin and him are very close)…. but if a lot of them end up leaving Washington this summer, a trade becomes more likely. Its easier to want to leave a team full of new faces then it is a team full of close friends.

    ——————————–

    Of course, there are a few reasons to think Ovi isn’t going anywhere. Despite being out of place in Washingtons system… the team makes a TON of money off his name. Hes a PR gold mine, and it would be hard for Washington to let that go. Not to mention Washington is very comforatable to Ovi, and he might not want to relocate. Still though, I would say there is at least a 50/50 chance he is traded in the next couple seasons.

  5. danphipps01 - May 21, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    “(No offense to Backstrom, who’s good but has one tenth the star power.)”

    Er, what? He’s the Caps’ best player. Only thing Ovi’s got on him is his inane rockstar nonsense.

    • Jason Brough - May 21, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      And Philip Seymour Hoffman is a better actor than Ashton Kutcher. Which one would you say has more star power?

  6. sicklife1 - May 21, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Islanders will take him off of your hands Washington….Except I don’t think we have anything to give you & we have a cheap owner that wouldn’t pay Ovi’s massive salary. I always thought he was overrated, but when I watched him in the playoffs, everytime the guy has the puck you think he’s going to score. There’s only a few players in the league that you can say that about. He’s a special player, obviously overpaid but most teams would be crazy not to add them IF they have the cap room.

    • bethgoesglobal - May 21, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      As far as it goes I think the Islanders DO have players that the Caps would be happy to have- Tavares, Parenteau, Hamonic, Moulson. BUT, the Caps will not be trading Ovi for several years unless he really pushes for a move.

  7. babykaby - May 21, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Mostly I think it is fans outside of DC and the media that want to see Ovechkin traded. Every other team in the league would love to have Ovi on their roster. Let’s face it, only an idiot would trade a 38 goal scorer, especially when the remainder of your team can’t score 20. True Caps fans love Ovechkin. There would be a mass exodus from their fanbase, much in the way the Wizards can’t fill seats, should he be traded. Afterall, it was Ovechkin that brought those people in and turned them into hockey fans. Yes, he wanted to play more minutes, but just think what everyone would be saying if he didn’t want to play more? I thought he handled the cut in minutes quite well. He said you just have to suck it up, that whatever it took to win he would do. Now, unfortunately, teammates like Halpern, Knuble and Hamrlik were far more vocal with their falling minutes and didn’t hesitate to whine about it. Hopefully, the next coach that comes in for the Caps will demand his defensive players do their job so the great offensive players he has can be released to do what they do best. Playing both sides of the ice is important, but not to the point of nearly wiping out all of your scoring.

  8. 50milessouthofdetroit - May 21, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    i’d love to have him in detroit on datsyuk’s line…

  9. daburghdabest - May 21, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Fair value for Ov-erated-chkin would be a bag of nuts. They can let him tape two to his body to compensate for having none of his own & they can eat the rest.

    • bethgoesglobal - May 21, 2012 at 10:36 PM

      Come on- can you imagine the coup that would result from a trade that sent Ovi to the Penguins! The media would absolutely Love It!! and after the initial obligatory sneering I think Pens fans would just love the idea of taking Ovi away from DC- very reminiscent of Jagr’s move from Pitts to DC. Of course it could also blow up in their faces as it did in DC with Jagr.

  10. dawglb - May 21, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Send him out west!

  11. caps247 - May 21, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Ovechkin is not leaving the Washington Capitals. Why?

    He was in the top 5 leading goal scorers with 38 goals, mostly without Nicky Backstrom.

    Even though he might not always have agreed with Hunter, Ovechkin sucked up his feelings for the reduced ice time and made the most out of it. Hell, he even played Defense for Hunter.

    To all those people saying that Oveckin should be traded because he doesn’t fit with the system, that was a little over a month ago. He didn’t fit in Hunter’s system, but a new coach will come in soon, hopefully with some system that will bring the Caps back to the offensive machine they were back during the Boudreau era, but also be skilled on the other side of the ice.

    Ovechkin brought fans to the Caps. He allowed the organization to build a team around him. It will continue on because of 2 good 1st rounders during the draft, not to mention rookies who already have a season under their belt (Beagle, Orlov), and another good prospect on his way (Peter Schilling).
    Maybe Kuznetsov will finally leave the KHL to sign with the Caps next year.

    You can’t trade the face of the organization in his prime years, not when you still have a chance to build a better team around him.

  12. cspsrbums - May 22, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    Hopefully they go back to offensive with a better balance. I agree with others to give
    up on all that offense for the defensive game wa to much and didn’t work, got the same results go. If you go back to offensive hockey with some new defenders , ( getting rid of Wideman and Shultz ) Caps will have a better shot. But they will have to resign Semin with a promise of some offense gave. He has to much talent that will haunt them if he stays in the NHL, at least till Kuz decides to come here.

    hockey

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