- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Alex Ovechkin signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract extension with the Capitals on Tuesday, likely keeping the forward in Washington for the remainder of his NHL career.

There was little doubt Ovechkin would return to the Capitals, even as he became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The two sides had tabled discussions in the buildup to last season, but Ovechkin had said previously the only two teams he’d want to play for are Washington and Dynamo Moscow — the KHL team he began his career with.

When Ovechkin’s new deal expires, he will have spent 21 seasons with the Capitals. He will become one of three D.C.-based athletes to spend at least 20 seasons with their respective teams, joining Washington Football Team cornerback Darrell Green and Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson.

Ovechkin has solidified himself as the face of the Capitals franchise for years. He leads the organization in games played with 1,197. His 730 goals and 1,320 points are the most in franchise history. And Ovechkin delivered Washington its first Stanley Cup championship in 2018, serving as team captain.

Alex is a world-class athlete who will forever be regarded not only for leading the team to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup, but also for inspiring the next generation of fans and youth players,” Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder and CEO Ted Leonsis said in a statement.

“The impact Alex has had on hockey in D.C. extends well beyond Capital One Arena,” Leonsis continued. “His performance on the ice has undoubtedly sparked countless new fans of the game and inspired more youth players to lace up skates of their own. Off the ice, Alex‘s impact is equally unmatched. Not only is he committed to the franchise, but also to the community, and we look forward to seeing him in the Capitals uniform for years to come.”

Washington waited to re-sign Ovechkin until after last week’s Seattle Kraken expansion draft, leaving Ovechkin unprotected, as expected. That allowed for Washington to protect an additional player before inking a new long-term deal for Ovechkin.

Ovechkin’s new contract comes with an annual value of $9.5 million. The average annual value of Ovechkin’s new contract resembles that of his previous one — a 13-year, $124 million contract signed in 2008. According to CapFriendly, Washington will have $4,135,407 remaining in cap space after Ovechkin’s deal.

Ovechkin enters the 2021-22 season as the sixth-highest scorer in NHL history, and he’ll have a chance to approach — if not surpass — Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894. Ovechkin, whose new contract runs through the 2025-26 season, has 730 goals to his name, meaning he can catch Gretzky if he averages 33 goals a season.

Washington changed the course of its franchise when it drafted Ovechkin first overall in the 2004 NHL draft. Since his debut in 2005-06, the Capitals rank second in the NHL with 689 wins and 1,524 points.

And Ovechkin hasn’t slowed down with age. Before the coronavirus pandemic cut short the 2019-20 season, Ovechkin was on pace to score 57 goals — which would have been the second-most goals scored in his career. He tallied 24 goals and 18 assists in 45 games last season, a campaign shortened due to the pandemic again. Ovechkin became the fourth NHL player to score at least 20 goals in 16 consecutive seasons to start his career.

Alex is the face of our franchise and is committed to this organization and this city,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “Alex embodies what our franchise is all about, and we’re thrilled that he will continue his career in the Caps uniform for the next five years.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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