Thursday, May 22, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: Alexander Ovechkin

From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every player* who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, Alexander Ovechkin.

Contract Status: 2008-09 salary of $9,000,000 (salary cap hit of $9,538,461.54... give or take); UFA after 2020-21 season
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 23
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 3
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 82 games played, 65 goals, 47 assists, +28, 40 PIMs
Key Stat: Lead the NHL in goals and points.
Surprising Fact: Is actually human.

The Good: Here we go... Ovechkin lead the League in goals, points, shots (with the second-highest total ever), game-winning goals, power-play goals, even-strength goals, home goals, road goals, intra- and inter-divisional goals, road points, even-strength points and goals created per game. He became the first 60-goal scorer in a dozen years, set a franchise record for goals and an NHL mark for single season goals by a left wing, had ten two-goal games, a three-goal game and two four-goal games, had 32 multi-point games (including a trio of five-point outings) and was only held off the score sheet 19 times all season (and only three times in consecutive games). Ovechkin was sixth among all forwards (ninth overall) in hits, fifth among forwards (seventh overall) in plus-minus and was the most clutch player in the League, thanks in part to 29 third period or OT goals (19 of which came in the final ten minutes of games) and a 26-point/plus-17 March in which he had nine multiple-point games. He turned his plus/minus around by 47 over 2006-07, was ninth in the NHL in takeaways, third among forwards in average ice time and nabbed himself a cutie along the way.

And for even more on "The Good," head over to Peerless's neck of the woods.

The Bad: Ovechkin lead the League in missed shots by a mile (imagine if a chunk of those had been on net), was third in giveaways, skated the longest shifts in the League and was only 1-for-6 in shootouts. He (like his teammates) also took a little while to get going in the playoff series with Philly, a problem he shouldn't have again.

The Vote: Rate Ovechkin on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential 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.

The Questions: On an individual level, what more can this guy do?

If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.

* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.


NS said...

eh, i thought he was sub-par :)

Natty Bumpo said...

expectations aside, anyone withholding a 10 must answer how ovechkin could have feasibly performed any better (during a season he presumably earned the ross, richard, hart and pearson trophies, and led his team to the playoffs despite inconsistent goaltending, an injury to his top linemate, a coaching change, and the capitals' worst start since '81-'82).

suggestions of a sub-par playoff performance should be considered only with the context that he led the caps in goals, assists and points during 2008's second season.

Natty Bumpo said...

signing up for 13 years another key element of ovechkin's 2007-2008..

JP said...

Another question - if Fedorov re-signs, which of the three centers do you think pairs best with Ovie?

Anonymous said...

This was the easiest one yet. A no-brainer. Does any other player play with the joy, enthusiasm, and other-worldly skill of Ovie? I think not.

I am finding a hard time even thinking of another current professional athlete that plays on a team that comes close to having the total package that Ovie brings to the Caps/NHL year in and year out.

If Fed signs next season I do see them paired in some way during Power Plays. However, I think that Ovie and Nick have something special in the making and that is the combo I would like to see. My bigger question is whether Feds will be on the second line or third if he resigns.

Maybe this one needs a 10+?

Abhinav said...

I don't get how people can say he didn't blow their expectations completely out of the water. The only area I think he needs improvement in is his backchecking, but that improved so much this year that I don't think you could have expected any more.

JP: I think he gets second choice of centers. It seems to me it's more important that Semin gets a center he works well with. If that's Bex/Semin then that's fine.

Mikey said...

I had him on my Fantasy team, and knowing that this was his contract year, and that he had a "down" year last year :), I expected over 60 goals. The Art Ross surprised me a little, although it shouldn't have, but I gave him a 9 because I think the Great One is right -- he can challenge Mr. Gretzky for 93. I think next year will be a great year to be a Caps fan!!! Watch out, NHL!


1) Natty stated it all/well. Nothing to add. A clear cut 10, and if he isn't a 10, who (ever) is? He can only go down from here, right? We wouldn't bet against him!
2) As per JP's question: AO would/could excel with ANY of those potential centers. Its not necessarily chemistry, but a great player in Ovechkin helping to elevate the games of those around him.
3) What a nice 'problem' to have huh? Compare this 'problem' with the real problems the team had a very short time ago and it puts things into perspective.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't speak French.

NS said...

can't stop bullets with his teeth.

JP said...

Basically, he's no Brooks Laich (who invented French so the French people wouldn't have to surrender to the Nazis in a language anyone cared about and who can not only stop bullets with his teeth, but can spit them back out faster than they come in).

Anonymous said...

I was going to give him a 10 but then I saw that picture of him kissing Semin :-)Seriously, even though I felt he should score 60 before the season started, he still exceeded those expectations so he gets a 10 for THIS season. However, he can do more. I don't know if it happens next season, but I see 70 goals well within his grasp and maybe even 50 goals in 39games. But from here on out, the real measure of his success will be in the playoffs. In that area, I feel pretty confident that he'll be bringing a Stanley Cup to DC in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

I'm the outlier. (And I told you earlier I would be.) The way I read the grading scale is: How do I think this player did compared with the best I think he can do. All of those who gave him a 10, that means that this is the best he's going to be.

I don't think so.

Gretzky said he could challenge for 93 goals. I'm not sure about that, but I think he could do 75.

I think that 150 points isn't out of the question. But he needs to trust/use his teammates more and not try to do it all on his own (as he sometimes does).

He needs to get much better/more responsible defensively. If you score that many goals, there's no reason you shouldn't be at least a +25. Unless your name is Kovalchuk. Anyone out there who thinks he wouldn't be a terror shorthanded...provided he learns how to play defense?

Am I an overly harsh grader? Possibly. But I'm pushing for 75 goals, 150+ points and a +25. That'll definitely get a grade of 10 from me.

JP said...

One little nit to pick, TG - you say, "The way I read the grading scale is: How do I think this player did compared with the best I think he can do. All of those who gave him a 10, that means that this is the best he's going to be."

It's not how he played compared to the best he can do, but compared to the best he could do for this past season. Subtle difference, but I think most of us - remarkably - think he can be even better than he was this year, though this past season was about as good as we could have expected him to be.

Anonymous said...

@ NS - I think I did see a youtube video where he, in fact, does stop a bullet with his teeth while saving some orphans from a burning boat that was sinking. So not sure about your claim.

~Mark said...

Do you see those bright lights?
Do you hear those sirens?
Forgot where you are for a second?
That's because you were just run over by number 8, on his way to score on your helpless goalie.

I mean come on people.
This is a guy who many people cannot find a comparable for.
10. Period.
Can he get better? Of course. Then we'll give him an eleven. That's how good he could be. Where 10 just doesn't seem enough.

Anonymous said...

Total rock star. On top of the stats, which are overwhelming, his competitiveness and unmitigated joy for the game, not to mention happiness at the success of his teammates, keep me coming back for more.

I don't really expect anything else but since you asked, I agree his backchecking could be better. Since I gave him a 10, this isn't really a criticism, more like a growth opportunity. And whoever gets to center him (this decision may be less about him and more about the needs of the other lines) should be jumping up and down with anticipation at the start of the season.

I can't ever remember feeling lucky to be a Caps fan, lots of emotions good and bad, but that word never came to mind until now. AO is a rare talent and we're all fortunate to be able to watch his career unfold here. He's the gift that will keep on giving for years.

Anonymous said...

I gave him an 8 only because i think his POTENTIAL is even higher than what he showed us this year. Don't get me wrong, if he puts up identical stats or even regresses slightly I won't complain, but I think its highly likely that over the next several seasons his numbers and his game will continue to improve. The future is bright.

Anonymous said...


OK, if I change the way I read it to how you read it, then I'd probably bump him up to an 8. I still think he had a tendancy to try to do it all himself too much instead of relying on his teammates, and on a lot of occasions his defense left a lot to be desired.

A lot of times he kinda hung out around the blue line waiting for the poaching opportunity. It really struck me the night of the Ovechkam broadcast and I noticed it the rest of the year as well. Although when he wants to, he can and does play decent defense.

JP said...

I can dig it.

As for people who want to see him penalty killing, if it's another way of saying "I want his defense to improve," then I agree with the sentiment.

But considering that he was 3rd among NHL forwards in ice time (1st among non-Tortorellian slaves) and didn't play the PK at all, the question becomes how much ice time can he get and still be at his maximum effectiveness? Obviously down a goal late on a PK, you'd put him out there, but otherwise, wouldn't you rather save his finite minutes per game for even strength and PP opportunities?

Then again, I don't much care if your name is Ovechkin or Gordon, if you're a top PKer, you should be out there killing penalties (last I checked, a goal prevented is the same as a goal scored on the scoreboard).

As you can see, I go back and forth on the issue.

~Mark said...

Think Bo Derrick and Dudley Moore.


Anonymous said...

I'm torn.

Part of me wants to vote 9, because I do believe he could have been even better this year--I don't think 70 was out of the question.

But if this guy and this season isn't a 10, what is? Why even have the scale go to 10?

But I do know that 8 (the score, not the player) is madness. Especially after his mini-sophomore slump last year.

Waiting for guidance.

Anonymous said...

Gave him a 9, which is a major accomplishment because my expectations for him are so high. For improvements...his shooting percentage should be higher (even though it did improve from his first two seasons) and he should use his line mates a bit more--right now, the combination of the two allows team to focus on him to cut down his offense. It hasn't hurt as much as it could because, well, it's Ovie, but imagine what he could do if defenses had to worry about the other guys on his line. That was part of the difference Backstrom made that Kozlov couldn't.

As for centers...obviously, Backstrom is the default, but if Gabby decides to try Backstrom with Semin again, I'd really like to see Nylander play with Ovechkin. Nyls had a ton of success with Jagr, who, when he's on his game, is the same kind of big fast forward--Ovechkin just tends to bring the physicality more.

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the Anon from yesterday to say he is a nice guy but a total f'in waste.

Red Rover said...

You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

NS said...

@JP - word. that ridiculous chin of his is the source of his power, and linguistic dominance. (and you know what, BL totally looks like he would be part of a Band Of Brothers platoon)

@CRWIB - hmm, he does love him some orphans and underprivaleged children (Crazy 8's). didn't realize he was also fire resistant. must look into noted video.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to answer the bonus question. To me it's a no-brainer, Nik has to be the guy. In Backstrom and Ovechkin you've got two young, superbly talented guys who could be playing together for the next decade. And what makes the paring so pefect is they complement each other so well, both on and off the rink; a real fire and ice type of relationship. (I think I smell an ad campaign) After watching the two return favors on those long breakout goals against Boston, why would you want anyone else centering Alex?

Anonymous said...

"Why don't you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number and make that a little louder?"


"These go to 11."

Anonymous said...


70/70 next year...mark it down where ya heard it

Anonymous said...

Also forgot the bonus question. I'd like to see Backstrom stick with Ovechkin. Keep the kids together and hopefully they'll go down in history as one of the best center/wing pairs in history.

Anonymous said...

jp, can't believe you had the stones to even bother coming up with a 'Bad' section. Art Ross, Richard, Hart?
No bad. No voting. 10.

Paul Nichols said...

I gave him a 9 simply because of the question - "relative" to his potential. If anybody can challenge Gretsky's 93, it's Ovie.

I think one day we'll look back at his 65 and "Heck, he was just getting warmed up that season."

mcconcma said...

I gave him a 9. And I would have given him a 10 had he made major improvements to his defensive play compared with last season. Did his D improve, yes. But not as much as I wanted to see.

Personally, I don't think anyone will EVER challenge 93. I like the stat comparing league-leaders to league-average goals/game. THAT was very exciting (with Phil Espisito coming in tops all time). 93 was scored in a year where goals/game were higher than they are now, and Goalies were... shall I say... Speed-bumps at best?

The caliber of netminders and the science at which they approach the position now makes Ovie's 65 so much more important historically.

Again, though. As awesome as it is to say, there is room for improvement in Ovie's game, and if anyone in the league has the desire to improve, it's him. We have a treasure here in DC.

mcconcma said...

Also forgot bonus section.

Semin's play along side Backstrom in the playoffs was SO good, I would keep those guys together. Hell, I'd even put Kozy on that line, and stick Feds or Nyls, and either Clarkie or his look-alike:Laich with him on the top line.

I don't see Backstrom being light-years ahead of the playmaking capabilities of Feds or Mr. Clean, so I doubt shaking that up would cause his production and importance to drop significantly.

rpress99 said...

I gave him a 1 b/c he did poorly against the Pacific Division. How could he not score a single goal against the Kings?

Anonymous said...

Chuck Norris sleeps in ovechkin pajamas. Nuff said.

Unknown said...

10 for regular season+8 for playoffs divided by 2 = 9

Unknown said...

Uh, Matthew... let's take a look at 8's plus/minus numbers:

2006-07: -19
2007-08: +28
Differential: +47

Exactly what kind of defensive improvement did you have in mind? Perhaps AO should take over netminding during the PK?

P.S.: Gretzky's goals record is 92, not 93.

Whiter Mage said...

I don't mind the kvetcher giving him a 6. I think of it this way. He's got extremely fair points, and if the best player in the NHL earns a SIX based on his potential, then when he earns a ten it's going to be downright scary.

Whiter Mage said...

Also, Tyler, Gretzky said he thought Ovechkin could break his record. Which would mean at least 93. A fair point.

Anonymous said...

i gave hime a 9 because i know he can score at least 75

~Mark said...

Did I catch a niner in there? What were you calling from a "Walkie Talkie"?

It's 10 OK. Not 8. Not 9. Not 9.99999999999. It's 10.

If a guy can't get a 10 winning the Ross, Hart, Pearson, etc... Then you'll just never be happy.
JP - this post shouldn't have had a poll. It should have just had a big, fat, 10, after which it says "this is your vote, thank you."

Am I making myself clear?

JP said...

BREAKING NEWS (that I can't yet blog about, as I'm at work):

Caps sign Alzner to three-year entry deal.

~Mark said...

JP - Thanks for the news. No big surprise there, eh?

Oh yeah, and Alzner get's a 10 too.

NS said...

ATTN: Milan Jurcina, re: Alzner

time to start pooping your pants. your time might be up if you don't turn into a mean SOB and start wrecking people.

Anonymous said...


Thank you. I at least hoped to be somewhat coherent in explaining my position. And I also wanted to thank everyone else for not taking my comments as a personal attack and running me out of town on a rail.

JP said...

Why would they do that? This is my blog, not Tarik's. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but you guys nitpicking with the 8s, 9s and whatnot are out of your minds. "...based on his performance relative to his potential" is how the poll was worded. So the potential for a player entering his 3rd season was more than leading the league with 65 goals, leading the league in points and winning the MVP. You would take those stats and the MVP for the next 10 years, no questions asked and no complaints.

Anonymous said...

hey mark, im thrilled, but winning those awards were part of my expectations. for him to have had a 10, he would have needed to win the art ross and hart with more points than crosby had last year, 120-112, personal and spiteful in know, but hey, and probably 70 goals, which i dont know if its good or bad, are my expectations for next season. i do understand what youre saying though and i debated myself, how does the best player in the world have such an incredible season and get anything but a ten, what could he have done better? i think next season will answer that question for us.

Anonymous said...

This is what ticks me off. All of those now saying, "Well he could have scored 75..." How many people really thought in September that Ovie would score 65? How many years had it been since someone scored 60? It would be like if when the Great One scored 92, if everyone said "Well I only give him an 8 because he could have broken 100."

I mean, come on people. If anyone deserves a 10 in hockey this year it is Ovie. Plain and simple. Of course we knew he was great. But that does not diminish what he accomplished. On a team, that let's face it, was not in any way stacked with the degree of talent that other teams possess.

I am not saying this team is not talented or great, so do not even start. I am just saying that what Ovie accomplished this season was brilliant. As my daughter said (much to my chagrin). Without Oveckin we would have been so screwed this year!

Jack Hazard said...

I'd give him a ten, but he's yet to hit his prime. Gotta save a little something.

Anonymous said...

I searched Alex Ovechkin on YouTube, and on the related searches list, one of the related searches was Wayne Gretsky. I have trouble digesting the fact that Alex Ovechkin is on MY team... the best player in the NHL. EEEEEE!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I gave him a 10 too. Without really thinking about it. I know he will totally improve, but then he can get an 11. Then hopefully a 12...
I think OV/Bex would be a good pair, but Semin/Bex was to good in the playoffs to be ignored. But then again, I love Backie soooo much, being paired with OV would give him the fame he deserves, even though he's the kind of guy who likes to be in the background, letting the Nicklas Lidstroms and Ovies out there take the fame.