- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The young man the Washington Capitals hope can lead them to a Stanley Cup triumph yesterday signed a three-year contract with the team.

Alexander Ovechkin, 17 days shy of his 20th birthday, signed in the team’s offices with Ted Leonsis, majority owner; Dick Patrick, team president; George McPhee, general manager; and Don Meehan, the player’s agent, looking on.

Ovechkin, Meehan and the team had agreed to terms Aug.5 but delayed the actual signing until yesterday. Ovechkin will make almost $1.3million for each of the three years of the contract, terms of which are governed by a rookie salary cap, but he has the potential to earn as much as almost $4million yearly from incentives built into the deal.

“He’s a terrific young man,” McPhee said. “Rather than sign the contract and fax it in, his preference was to sit in front of us, look us in the eye, sign the contract and shake our hands. Pretty impressive. He’s a quality individual as well as being a phenomenal hockey player.”

Ovechkin arrived in Toronto on Sunday after an 11-hour flight from Moscow and got to Washington yesterday. He will meet the Washington press today.

Ovechkin opted out of a contract on deadline with a team in the Russian Super League to sign a deal with the Capitals. He will be the cornerstone in the Caps’ rebuilding program for a team made up mostly of prospects and youngsters with limited NHL experience.

The Caps also announced the signing of defenseman Jeff Schultz, selected 27th in the first round of the 2004 draft, giving the team four of the first 33 players taken. Washington has now signed its three first-round picks from 2004 — Ovechkin, Schultz and defenseman Mike Green — as well as right wing Chris Bourque, taken with the third pick in the second round.

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