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2019-20 Rink Wrap: Alex Ovechkin

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From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2019-20 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2020-21. Next up, Alex Ovechkin.

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game Five Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Regular Season:

Playoffs:

Key Stat: Ovechkin scored a League-high 48 goals to win his 9th Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (and seventh in the last eight seasons) as the League’s leading goal scorer.

The Good: Alex Ovechkin once again led the League in goals and led his team to another Division title, a dual accomplishment that usually puts a player squarely in the in the Hart Trophy conversation but, for a second-straight year and third time overall, that wasn’t the case for Ovechkin (he did finish 13th in Hart voting, garnering a fourth-place and three fifth-place votes). That’s not to say that Ovechkin deserved to be a Hart finalist this year (he didn’t), but it does sorta imply that voters (and maybe fans) take Ovechkin’s incredible accomplishments somewhat for granted. Don’t do that - what you’re still seeing is the greatest goal-scorer of all-time captaining his team to sustained competitive success, playoff disappointments notwithstanding.

At 34 years old, Ovechkin posted his highest goals-per-game (0.71) since 2008-09 and scored the most even-strength goals he’s had in a campaign since 2009-10 (and likely would have posted a career second-best had the full season been completed). He fired more shots on goal per game (4.75) than he had in five years and converted on a career-high 15.4 percent of them (that’s a heck of a formula for goal-scoring success). Ovechkin was easily headed for a ninth 50-goal season in 2019-20, did manage an 11th 40-goal campaign (one off of Wayne Gretzky’s record), and, oh yeah, became (fittingly) the eighth player in NHL history to score 700 goals, passing legendary names like Selanne, Lemieux, Yzerman and Messier along the way before scoring half of the team’s goals in the (real) playoffs.

At the risk of stating the painfully obvious, Alex Ovechkin is great. Still.

The Bad: Despite potting a League-high 35 goals at even-strength and having a 51.1 CF% at fives, Ovechkin was actually on the ice for more opposition goals than Caps tallies at five-on-five and posted a minus-12 rating, his worst mark since that crazy minus-35 in 2013-14. Part of that owes to his teammates - away from Evgeny Kuznetsov, his underlying numbers were better across the board (at both ends of the ice), and Caps goalies only stopped 90.1 percent of the shots they faced at 5v5 with Ovechkin on the ice (lowest in the League among forwards with 975-plus minutes played). But while no one’s asking Alex Ovechkin to piece together a Selke-worthy season, he simply can’t be a net-negative player at even-strength if the Caps are going to be successful. Paging Peter Laviolette.

The Video:

The Charts:

via hockeyviz.com

The Discussion: So... what is Alex Ovechkin worth? What’s he worth to the Caps, to Washington, to you? Because he’s headed into the last year of his current contract and there are some big decisions ahead. It’s almost impossible to imagine Ovechkin in another (NHL) uniform, but how do the Caps balance retaining the greatest player in franchise history with keeping the team competitive in a salary-capped league? What dollars and term make sense to both sides? On the ice, what do you expect a 35-year-old Ovechkin to look like under his seventh NHL coach? And, with pandemic-shortened season(s), how likely is it that Alex Ovechkin will end his NHL career with the most glamorous individual record in the sport, the one that will put an end to the “greatest goal-scorer” debate once and for all?

Other Ovechkin Season Reviews: Coming soon!

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.

Poll

How would you rate Alex Ovechkin’s 2019-20 season?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    10
    (31 votes)
  • 33%
    9
    (59 votes)
  • 27%
    8
    (49 votes)
  • 16%
    7
    (30 votes)
  • 3%
    6
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    5
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    4
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    3
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    2
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    1
    (0 votes)
178 votes total Vote Now