Alex Ovechkin said he believes there will be “plenty of time” to negotiate a new contract with the Washington Capitals during the season and doesn’t see a need to worry if a deal isn’t done before training camp ends.
Ovechkin, who is entering the final season of a 13-year, $124 million contract he signed on Jan. 10, 2008, can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
“I don’t think we’re in a rush,” Ovechkin said after Washington’s first practice of training camp Monday. “I think we understand everything that’s happening right now, so whenever it’s done, it’s done. If it’s not done, we’re going to talk and we’ll see.”
Ovechkin is coming off a strong season in 2019-20, when he tied David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins for the NHL lead with 48 goals. Through 15 NHL seasons, all with Washington, Ovechkin is eighth in NHL history with 706 goals, two behind Mike Gartner for seventh and 188 behind Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894.
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he planned to speak with Ovechkin during training camp about his contract, but they have not begun negotiations yet and there is a short window before Washington plays its season opener against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Jan. 14.
As he did in 2008, Ovechkin plans to negotiate his contract without an agent but said he’d prefer to focus for now on getting ready for the season.
“I think for me, the most important thing is just to play the game right now,” Ovechkin said. “Of course, it’s one year (left on his contract). I’ve been in this position 13 years ago, right, when I had to sign a deal and worry about this kind of stuff. But right now, I’m 35, I understand everything and I’m kind of an experienced guy.
“Of course, you’re going to think about when it’s getting closer, but right now we’re in training camp and the most important thing right now is go back on the ice and get your body moving, feel the game, and after that we will talk.”
One year ago, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was in a similar position and signed a five-year, $46 million contract on Jan. 14, 2020. The 33-year-old also acted as his own agent but doesn’t think Ovechkin will need his help with his new contract.
“I told him last year, I think, ‘I’ll take half a percent’ if he wants me to negotiate, but he said, ‘No, I’ll do it myself,'” Backstrom said. “So I don’t have any advice for him. … He’s fine. He’s going to do a good job, I think.”