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2016-17 Rink Wrap: Alex Ovechkin

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From Alzner to Winnik, we're taking a look at and grading the 2016-17 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2017-18. Next up, Alex Ovechkin.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game One Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version; data via NHL.com, Corsica.hockey and Cap Friendly):

Ovechkin's Season, Game-by-Game (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Ovechkin and His Linemates (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Ovechkin's 5v5 Teammates and Competition (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Ovechkin's 5v5 Usage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Ovechkin's With-or-Without You (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Ovechkin's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Ovechkin's Last Ten Seasons (via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Ovechkin’s Goals Against Replacement (GAR) Components (chart by @ChartingHockey, data by @DTMAboutHeart, explained here, Tableau here):

Ovechkin's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Key Stats: Ovechkin is the third player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first 12 seasons in the League (Mike Gartner, first 15 seasons; Wayne Gretzky, 13) and is the second player in NHL history to score 30 goals in 12 consecutive seasons for one team at any juncture in his career (Bo. Hull, 13). In January, Ovechkin became the second-quickest active player to score his 1,000th career point, doing so in 880 games (Jaromir Jagr, 763), and his 545 career goals at that point were the second-most through a player’s first 1,000 points in NHL history (Br. Hull, 560).

Interesting Stat: Ovechkin’s March hat trick against Minnesota marked the first time a Cap scored three power-play goals in a game since Mike Ridley did so in 1988.

The Good: Ovechkin’s 33 goals were the 13th-most in the League (including leading the circuit in power-play goals (17; tied)), and his 69 points were both nice and a top-20 total. His 36 assists were the most he’s posted in a campaign since 2010-11 (53), his 15 primary assists at five-on-five were the most since that same year (21), and his five-on-five primary-point rate (goals plus primary assists) was the highest it’s been in a full season since, you guessed it, 2010-11. Ovechkin also played all 82 regular-season games (and all 13 playoff matches), and was named to both the All-Star team and the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players of All Time list. Not too shabby.

The Bad: There’s “good” and then there’s “Alex Ovechkin good.” A season after leading the League in even-strength goals (with 31 such tallies), Ovechkin fell to 67th (16). Thirty-three goals in today’s NHL is an impressive total... it’s just not a “greatest goal-scorer of his generation” impressive (particularly for a guy who scored 50 or more in each of the prior three campaigns). Sixty-nine points in today’s NHL is terrific by most standards... just not necessarily for a guy who has finished in the top-ten in eight of his 11 previous seasons. A top-four finish in five-on-five shot rate is nice... but the total was a career low for a guy who led the League in that metric by nearly 25% over the prior nine seasons. Ovechkin also took too many penalties, didn’t drive possession in a meaningful way, and, oh yeah, only scored one goal in the last six games of the Pittsburgh series and had just a single point over the last four (playing third-line minutes towards the end).

But let’s be honest - most of that would’ve been glossed over and spun as subverting his individual stats for the good of the team had his season ended a few weeks later. And therein, of course, lies the rub - for all of the milestones and highlights, Alex Ovechkin’s Caps haven’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs, and he’s the guy with the “C” on his sweater and now the gray in his hair. And so criticisms, legitimate and otherwise, cascade down on the Caps’ captain yet again.

The bottom line on Ovechkin at this point is that the numbers he’s put up over the course of his career are absolutely staggering, in aggregate, but hockey isn’t really played “in aggregate” (see also Holtby, Braden). And as the fire-hose deluge of goals - powered by the water pressure of shot attempts (this was only the second time in his career that Ovechkin didn’t lead the League in shots on goal) and scoring chances - starts to slow, Alex Ovechkin simply isn’t the impact player that he once was, particularly at five-on-five, so he’s going to need more help (on the ice and behind the bench) than ever to get over the proverbial hump in the playoffs. This is where Alex Ovechkin is: still a good (at times great) player... but no longer the Alex Ovechkin we’ll all tell our kids and their kids about.

The Video:

The Vote: Rate Ovechkin below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: Should the Caps aggressively pursue trading their captain this off-season? Under what circumstances would an Ovechkin deal make sense in the near future? What does he need to do to make himself more of a threat? How about to get over the mental hurdle the team seems to be facing every spring? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?

Poll

How do you rate Alex Ovechkin’s 2016-17 season?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    10
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    9
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    8
    (19 votes)
  • 19%
    7
    (55 votes)
  • 17%
    6
    (49 votes)
  • 17%
    5
    (48 votes)
  • 16%
    4
    (46 votes)
  • 14%
    3
    (41 votes)
  • 1%
    2
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    1
    (10 votes)
281 votes total Vote Now