On his 35th birthday, Alex Ovechkin is reportedly about to agree a lucrative new long-term deal at NHL side the Washington Capitals that would put him within distance of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL record of 894 goals.
Ovechkin’s current 13-year, $124 million contract – worth more than $9.5 million a season – expires in 2021, and the Capitals are said to have offered their runaway leading goal scorer a deal of between three and five years that could earn him more than $10 million per campaign.
That would make the Russian former Winter Olympics All Star the highest-paid player in the NHL behind the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, according to RMNB, and give Ovechkin a realistic opportunity to overhaul NHL great Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record of 894 goals.
Negotiations between the Capitals and Ovechkin reportedly started last week with a view to extending a formidable career which began in 2005 and has yielded 706 goals for Ovechkin so far, putting him eighth on the leading list.
The evergreen hitman, who was given the keys to the city after becoming the first Washington MVP winner in a major sport for 25 years in 2008, would need to keep up his impressive recent form to have a chance of surpassing ‘The Great One’.
Ovechkin scored 48 times in 68 matches in the regular 2019/20 season – a rate which could see him break the record within four seasons should he continue at that pace.
“Health is obviously going to play a big factor,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said earlier this year, speaking to NHL.com about the chances of his key man eclipsing Gretzky.
“As long as he has the shot, and we have a good enough team surrounding him and our power play stays in the top 10, he has a chance to play for a long time.”
The Moscow-born winger has been able to sign a contract extension since July 1 but claimed at the end of last year that he had not thought beyond his current deal.
“I’m going to have to play until I’m 60 if I want to break that record,” he quippred. “No, I’m joking. We’ll see.
“I want to play until I can’t play, you know? I don’t want to be a guy who goes out there and just plays [like a] joke. If I’m going to be at the same level, [I’ll play].”
The Capitals won the Metropolitan Division for a fifth successive season after the remaining games were cancelled as a result of the pandemic in May.
They finished third in the Eastern Division and advanced to the playoffs before being eliminated by the New York Islanders in the first round in five games, leading to the dismissal of head coach Todd Reirden last month.
Ovechkin’s contract negotiations are likely to be strengthened by the salary hike handed to center Nicklas Backstrom in 2020, giving the team’s next-highest earner an annual rise of $2.5 million to put him on $9.2 million a year, according to Spotrac.
The figures suggest that fellow Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov collects $7.8 million a year as part of his long-term deal with the team.