Alex Ovechkin can be considered the greatest goal scorer of not only this generation but of all time. Hockey has evolved significantly since the Wayne Gretzky days, and it's now much tougher to stand out. The technology within the equipment has advanced, the overall speed of the game has increased, and the systems implemented by coaches is completely different, with more teams focusing on defense. With his massive frame and an organic-scoring instinct, Ovechkin is a complete handful for any teams he faces. With arguably the deadliest set of offensive tools in the entire league, Ovi possesses a plethora of offensive moves that can beat defenders and even more importantly, goaltenders. With his designated office being located on his offside on the point, he has managed to record a multitude of points (mostly goals) throughout the duration of his career -- mainly coming from his signature one-time shot.
In regards to that, Ovechkin's star power has always seemed to overshadow his teammates -- it's reasonable, he's the Great 8. During his time in Washington, Ovechkin has played with many different players, with some being exceptional and some not so much, meaning those who were not elite players, but simply grinders. It comes as no surprise that majority of the "best" players on this list come from the Capitals most recent rosters as their expectations of winning a Stanley Cup have never been higher than they are now.
With respect to that, here's the 8 best and the 7 worst players (excluding goalies) that Alex Ovechkin has played with in Washington.
15 Best - Marcus Johansson
Marcus Johansson is a good hockey player. The 26-year-old Swede has an extremely high ceiling and has often found himself playing on either the second or third line with decent players. Thanks to the Washington Capitals depth, he's since had the pleasure of playing with Mr. Game 7 (Justin Williams) and Evgeny Kuznetsov at even strength, and the first-power-play unit on the left wing as well, allowing him to tally a career-high 58 points in all 82 games this season. Since his rookie season in 2010-2011, he's been on Alex Ovechkin's team and has been improving each and every season. With the Capitals unable to re-sign some guys going into next season, they would be foolish to let this guy walk.
After his clutch Game 6 performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the tying goal and eventually the game winner in OT, Johansson will rightfully be getting the praise he deserves.
14 Worst - Donald Brashear
I hope I'm not the only person who was confused as to why Donald Brashear wore #87. Being on the complete opposite spectrum of talent in comparison to Sidney Crosby, Brashear did most of his talking with his fists and shoulders, whereas Sid the Kid would do so with his jolting dekes and rocket shot. But enough about Crosby, back to Brashear. In 220 games with the Washington Capitals, the gritty enforcer only managed to tally 25 points, leaving many confused as to why they ever allowed Brashear to be on the ice with the Russian sniper at the same time. Nonetheless, he has played with Ovi a few times and I'm sure he soaked every minute of it in -- why wouldn't he?
Nowadays he's focusing on his new venture Brash87, a high-performance hockey stick. Happy to see the long-time fighter still involved in hockey after a lengthy NHL career of 16 seasons.
13 Best - Michael Nylander
A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Michael Nylander is one of the more highly respected alumni of the NHL. Being drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the 3rd round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft andplaying in a variety of leagues throughout his career (with a whopping 14 different European teams and seven NHL teams), he consistently put up over 50 points a season and seemed to be an easy guy to play with due to his elite passing ability. Unfortunately, he always seemed to fall victim to injuries, which ultimately would cut many of his seasons short. Many speculate that had he not gotten injured as frequently as he did, his point totals would be with some elite company.
Currently sitting at the age of 44, Nylander now has his two highly-touted sons, Alex and William, to keep the Nylander legacy ongoing in the NHL -- with extremely bright futures ahead for both.
12 Worst - Quintin Laing
Sorry, who is Quintin Laing? After seeing that Laing was a part of the Washington Capitals organization from 2007 all the way through to 2010, I began to look into his stats, which certainly did not do him any justice. Over the course of three seasons with the club, Laing tallied a mere 10 points in 76 games. This leads me to believe the only time that Laing and Ovechkin were ever on the ice together was during practice -- no logical coach would throw these two players together, it makes no sense. Laing's most memorable moment with the Caps was when he sprawled out to block a shot against the New York Rangers and ended up breaking his jaw. Not a memorable play that many would want to experience, but it certainly makes him look tough as nails out there.
Apparently, Laing is currently the head coach of the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association.
11 Best - Mike Green
Does anyone else remember Mike Green's astonishing season with the Washington Capitals, where he tallied 76 points in 75 games back in 2009-2010? Well, he did; following up a 75-point season the year before. Green is a textbook offensive defenseman and is one of the few high points going forward for the Detroit Red Wings as of now. Although he's 31 years old, he still does hold value. It was tough for the Capitals to let go of the d-man, but it was for the better -- bodies such as John Carlson and Kevin Shattenkirk are much better options than Green nowadays.
Green has still been productive in the NHL, regardless of the fact that he's moved on from his sacred Easton Stealth CNT -- a stick that hasn't been manufactured in over a decade.
10 Worst - Matt Hendricks
Once a gifted shootout artist, Matt Hendricks is now an irrelevant name in today's NHL. The Edmonton Oilers clearly had better, younger options than the veteran who only managed a mere 7 points in 42 games this season, ultimately ending in frequent healthy scratches. A tough pill to swallow for the 35-year-old, but he has enjoyed his time in the league. Dating back to his days with the Capitals, he managed to set a career high in points -- with 25 points in 77 games. However, he followed that up with two poor seasons, tallying only 17 points in 116 games, and was shipped to the Nashville Predators. He's definitely a guy that is known for his grinding, not point production.
Hendricks was actually named the captain of the United States World Championship team back in 2015. This resulted in the team capturing the bronze medal against the host country Czech Republic.
9 Best - Kevin Shattenkirk
Although he hasn't played a full season with the Great 8, Kevin Shattenkirk is certainly one of the best players that Ovi has played with. The two are meant to be, both thoroughly enjoying time with the man advantage -- deeming the two as power play specialists. Shattenkirk's regular-season totals with the Caps ended up with 14 points in 19 games, with 7 of those points coming on the power play. Because of his acquisition, the second powerplay has gained John Carlson, another elite player Ovechkin has played with, giving the Caps even more depth on the backend.
When the Capitals acquired the defender before the trade deadline, it simply made sense, and now currently in the midst of a playoff run, Shattenkirk has 3 points in 6 games, with all three points coming on the man advantage. He's simply playing a role that was cut out for him.
8 Worst - Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro used to actually be a good hockey player, so it may come as a surprise to see his name on this list. However, his lack of professionalism throughout his NHL career certainly trounces any talent that the Canadian forward may have ever had. He even managed to score 49 points in 48 games in his single season in Washington -- which made people believe he would get re-signed -- but Capitals management was far too smart to be fooled by him. In his last season of NHL hockey, he managed just 4 goals in 46 games last season, prior to his demotion to the AHL.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, there's a very high chance that once Ribeiro's contract is up he will most likely hang up the skates, as his age has clearly caught up with him -- in terms of athleticism, of course, not attitude.
7 Best - Evgeny Kuznetsov
Ovechkin must love the fact that Evgeny Kuznetsov holds the same nationality as himself -- Russian. The two have played together on and off for the past few seasons and have shown they can produce efficiently when paired together. Had Nicklas Backstrom been on a different team, it's obvious that Kuzy would slot into the first-line-center position. His tenacity with the puck allows him to be a great puck dispenser but he can also finish on passes as well. He will only progress with age and is easily their best, youthful player and must be re-signed.
Kuznetsov's biggest flaw is that he's too fancy out there, and even though, as of late, Don Cherry has been criticizing him for '"hot dogging" on the ice, people don't normally criticize/hate nobodies -- showing that Kuzy has already made an impact in the NHL and is on the radars of many players and coaches in the league.
6 Worst - Boyd Gordon
Boyd Gordon is nothing special when it comes to talent. He has played on four different NHL teams (Washington Capitals, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and the Philadelphia Flyers) throughout the span out his career. He's never really been known for his point production; he's just a guy who shows up to work every day and plays a role. It was a rare occurrence to see Ovechkin out on the ice with him back in his Washington days but it did happen.
If you can even believe it, after scoring a mere 4 points in 65 games with the Coyotes, Gordon was signed to a one-year contract worth $950,000 by the Flyers last offseason. However, he managed just 13 games and registered 1 assist during his time in Philly. It's possible that the 33-year old may need to find work elsewhere next year.
5 Best - T.J. Oshie
T.J. Oshie -- or should I call him T.J. Sochi after his heroics in the shootout at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia -- has found instant chemistry on the Washington Capitals first line. Blessed with some of the nicest mittens in the league, Oshie is one of, if not the most, lethal players in the shootout. Generously listed at 5'11", Oshie plays much bigger than he is and is quite difficult to knock off of the puck as he can play a gritty game when he's finishing his checks. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have certainly benefited from the acquisition of Oshie.
Oshie carried a league-leading shooting percentage of 23.1% amongst players who had over 100 shots this season. It's safe to say that this is one of the guys you do not want being left alone coming down on your favourite team's goalie.
4 Worst - Chris Clark
Chris Clark's statistics are a little confusing. Clark actually had a productive season with the Washington Capitals back in 2006-2007 where he managed an impressive 54 points in 74 games. However, he followed that up with lackluster efforts in the coming years as he managed just 30 points over the course of three seasons -- which could be the main reason as to why he and Milan Jurcina were traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for grit-grinder Jason Chimera. After failing to crack NHL lineups, he eventually decided that retirement may be the best option going forward.
At the wise age of 41, Clark joined the Blue Jackets in a management position as the development coach where he works with the youth in the Blue Jackets' system.
3 Best - Sergei Fedorov
Sergei Federov is one of the greatest Russian hockey players of all time -- which explains his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame back in 2015. He managed to win three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings back in his prime and then finished his NHL stint with the Washington Capitals. Last season, Ovechkin had passed Federov for the most goals ever scored in the NHL by a Russian. However, Fedorov still remains as the all-time leader in points scored in the NHL by a Russian with a whopping 1,179 points in 1,248 games ... for now anyways. It almost seems inevitable that Ovechkin will surpass the all-time great in the not-too-distant future as he sits at 1,035 points in 920 games.
Currently, Fedorov is the general manager for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.
2 Worst - Alexandre Giroux
Now I know what you're all thinking: who is this guy? Well, I'm almost certain that Alex Ovechkin said the exact same thing back in 2008-09 when he saw his name on the lineup sheet before the very few games the two played together. Alexandre Giroux didn't get to enjoy the career of an NHL player the same way many have, as he only managed a total of 48 games in the national league. Bouncing between the AHL and the NHL for the better part of his career, Giroux (not Claude) just couldn't cement a spot in the lineup. In Giroux's 48 games, he managed to tally 12 points, with 10 of the points coming with the Washington Capitals.
Today, he's currently playing in the KHL for Medvescak Zagreb, where he enjoyed a successful season of 23 points in 53 games -- a major step up from his NHL days.
1 Best - Nicklas Backstrom
It's hard to say that Nicklas Backstrom isn't the best player that Ovechkin has ever played with. He's one of the NHL's best playmakers and can thread a needle with his precise vision. Arguably the calmest-looking player in the entire league, Backstrom has always had a reputation as an elite talent and would be considered a first-line center on any hockey team, even when he followed Ovi over to Dynamo Moscow of the KHL during the lockout season.
As of January 12th, 2017, Backstrom had assisted on 204 of Ovi's 448 goals. This was good for 45% of the goals Ovi's scored since Backstrom joined the Capitals in his rookie season of 2007-2008, which is nothing short of an amazing statistic. Many have even argued that without Backstrom, Ovechkin may not be the player he is today (which could be a bit of a stretch) but nonetheless, Backstrom has certainly helped him during his career by dispensing the puck to Ovi's office on his off wing.
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