It’s the end of the 2016-17 NHL season and the offseason focus will be on the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately for the Caps and their fans, that focus will be for all the wrong reasons. The Capitals wasted another President’s Trophy season and endured a premature playoff exit while watching Sidney Crosby and Co. hoist the Stanley Cup for the second straight season. The past three years has seen the Caps fall into an unfortunate routine; dominating the regular season and then underperforming when it comes time to winning those last, essential 16 games.
The Capitals led all of hockey with 55 wins and 118 points, their goaltender Braden Holtby was unstoppable, or more accurately very stoppable (2.07 GAA, .925 Save Percentage, 9 SO). Nicklas Backstrom was an assist machine, Alex Ovechkin was Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov had a solid campaign and the defensive core was shutdown. The Caps were primed to win it all. And then at the deadline the Caps went all in and fortified an already outstanding roster by trading for top tier defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and everyone began designing their championship rings.
Flash-forward a couple of months and all of a sudden the Caps are skating on thin ice: T.J. Oshie and Karl Alzner are free agents, the rented Shattenkirk won’t be returning, Nate Schmidt got scooped up in the Vegas expansion draft and Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov, all restricted free agents, will all be asking for hefty pay raises. A once promising season has now turned into a nuisance and the front office stands at a crossroad. It may be time for general manager Brian MacLellan to shake things up. And here comes the Capitals big question of not only their offseason, but of their entire franchise: Should Washington trade Alex Ovechkin?
It sounds ridiculous to trade a perennial Hart Memorial candidate and the most prolific scorer of our generation but if the Caps received the right players in return it could steer them in the proper direction moving forward. The Capitals would be able to ask for established roster players, draft picks and prospects to not only keep them in contention but to pave the ice for years to come. It would be strange to see Ovi in a different jersey but it might be the right move.
We’ve already published “8 Teams Who Will Want To Trade For Alex Ovechkin and 7 That Won’t but for this list, we’re going to take a look at realistic trades for Ovechkin that could happen with every NHL team.
30 Anaheim Ducks
Imagine Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Alex Ovechkin on the same team? Sure, Ovi would have to apologize to Getzlaf for making fun of him for being bald but after all that, these guys would have scary firepower. The Ducks are oozing with defenseman and could ship Sami Vatanen to Washington to help strengthen their already solid defensive core. Toss in the Ducks’ second rated prospect Nick Ritchie who is a big power forward who can find the back of the net and the Caps would even out the physical game they’d lose from Ovechkin. Sweeten the deal by offering the Capitals a second round pick in 2017 and all of a sudden the Ducks look like the Harlem Globetrotters. The Caps would shed salary and could look towards signing a free agent while sitting pretty with two young and established players and bank a pick for the future.
29 Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona franchise has to do something to generate more hockey interest in the desert. They need a marketable superstar and who better than Alex Ovechkin? The Coyotes also have a stack of prospects to entice Washington and plenty of cap space to handle Ovi’s contract. A deal between these two teams could be headlined by Dylan Strome, one of the NHL’s top prospects, and Jakob Chychrun – a big 18-year-old defenseman who’s destined for greatness. Or the ‘Yotes could offer their star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi and the 7th overall pick in this year’s draft. Ovechkin could flourish in Arizona by rejuvenating the entire city to focus on hockey. Plus the franchise has already had so many name changes they could try one more … Imagine the Arizona CoyOVIES?
28 Boston Bruins
The Bruins aren’t far removed from their last Stanley Cup; they’re still strong up the middle and get consistent scoring and hitting from their wingers. As evident by David Pastrnak’s break out season, the Bruins have a good minor league system and could dangle some prospects to pry Ovi away from Washington. Swedish center-man Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson could headline a package deal of young stars along with defenseman Brandon Carlo and the Bruins’ top prospect Alexander Khokhlachev; a slick puck mover and a courageous goal scorer. Sound familiar? Carlo is only 20 years old and stands at 6’5’’ and weighs 203 pounds. Add a pair of skates on him and you’ve got a skyscrapper skating towards you. Boston could also dangle a second round pick to really make Washington consider a quick rebuild.
27 Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have their franchise player in the rosy-cheeked center-man Jack Eichel. They have another spectacular center in Ryan O’Reilly so Ovechkin would have great line mates on either the first or second unit and would be assured that the offense would flow. The Sabres could swap Evander Kane who is controversial but immensely talented and still young. Perhaps playing in the nation’s capital would level him out. The Sabres could package the likes of highly touted right winger Alexander Nylander and a conditional 2019 second round pick assuming Evander Kane re-signs following the 2018 campaign. The Sabres could sweeten the deal with William Carrier, a forward who combines his size, physical style and a cannon of shot to an explosive style of game.
26 Calgary Flames
Picture the battle of Alberta – Edmonton’s Connor McDavid versus Calgary’s Alex Ovechkin. That’s got a nice ring to it. By trading for Ovechkin, Calgary would immediately address their size issues and would nab an elite goal scorer to take the pressure off little Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett. Calgary could send forward Troy Brouwer back to Washington which would free up cap space for them to re-sign T.J. Oshie. A first round pick would have to be included as would a prospect. With a deep draft this year, Calgary’s 16th pick could be intriguing likewise would their top defensive prospect Rasmus Andersson as he could eventually take over the first line power play time left vacant by the departed Shattenkirk. It’s been a long time since Calgary had a sniper don the flaming jersey, Ovi could be their man.
25 Carolina Hurricanes
It’s still weird to think that the Carolina Hurricanes have won a Stanley Cup and the Capitals have not. Maybe that’ll entice Ovechkin to hop over to Carolina? Carolina could certainly use him up front and they even have the trade chips to make it happen. At only 19 years old, Sebastian Aho raked the league in 2016-17, scoring 24 goals and adding 25 helpers. Noah Hanifin is another young gun, only 20 years old, he put up strong defensive numbers; 78 blocks and averaged 17:54 of ice time and also tallied 29 points in his second year in the bigs. The ‘Canes could package those two future All-Stars and throw in top prospect Julien Gauthier and a second-rounder to solidify the future for the Capitals who still look pretty with Backstrom up front and John Carlson on the back end.
24 Chicago Blackhawks
After a surprising sweep in the first round of the playoffs in 2017, it’s not exactly time for the Blackhawks to hit the panic button. They still have three championships in the past decade and a solid core locked up for years. It is fun to imagine Ovechkin on a team with Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane but it couldn’t happen with the current salary cap. But that doesn’t mean that a one-for-one swap is out of the question. The Chicago Blackhawks get Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals get Patrick Kane. Straight up. The Caps would retain an elite sniper in Kane and benefit from his passing ability and the Blackhawks get Ovechkin’s goal scoring prowess and also add a little bit of grit. It’s a win-win.
23 Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche don’t boast the best minor league system in the league and would set themselves back by several years if they unloaded the tank for Ovechkin. They do have established players on their current roster and as evident by their past three seasons, something isn’t working in Colorado. Thirsty for goalie help with the recently departed Calvin Pickard, the Avs could trade for Ovi and Caps’ backup net-minder Philipp Grubauer who is very talented but blocked by Holtby. In return, the Avs would send All-Stars Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and rookie forward Mikko Rantanen, fresh off a 20 goal season. The Capitals would be able to replace Grubauer through another backup in their system and would gain speed through the likes of Landeskog and Duchene. Ovechkin would help spark an Avalanche franchise that is skidding down the mountain.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets
Having just concluded their best season in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets would sky rocket to the top of a very difficult Metropolitan Division if they traded for the superstar Russian sniper. The Capitals would be reluctant to trade within their division but Columbus’ collection of young players could convince them otherwise. Columbus is excited about their 19-year-old defenseman Zach Werenski who enjoyed a breakout campaign in 206-17. They could deal the former 8th overall pick to Washington while maintaining a solid defensive core in Jack Johnson and Seth Jones. Werenski is a smooth skating, calculated blueliner whose elite vision on the ice would compliment well with Washington’s John Carlson. The Blue Jackets could also send over another former first round pick in Sonny Milano whose technical skills make him a constant scoring threat, Milano’s lack of physical play wouldn’t matter because the Blue Jackets could also send over Boone Jenner to dish out some hits.
21 Dallas Stars
The Stars boast the NHL’s best scoring duo in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. An aggressive push by their general manager Jim Nill can entice Ovi to join what would be greatest first line the NHL has ever seen. Nill sends a proven winger to Washington in Brett Ritchie along with 2017’s two first round picks, including the number three pick overall. The Capitals reset their salary cap by unloading Ovechkin’s wage and bolster their minor league system by grabbing two first round picks in a deep draft pool. Over in Dallas, Ovi reclaims his 50 goal season skating alongside Tyler Seguin at centre and Jamie Benn on the wing. They’d be scary good, but hey - shoot for the Stars.
20 Detroit Red Wings
2017 saw the end of the Red Wings magnificent streak of 25 consecutive seasons making the playoffs. That’s ridiculous. The Red Wings are a franchise that defines consistency and they won’t stay out of the hunt for long. Despite having a winning record for a quarter of a century, the Red Wings have drafted well and are still deep with prospects and young players. They could send their big power forward Anthony Mantha (6’5”/221 lbs) to Washington and throw in a Russian sniper of their own to fill the Caps’ void: Evgeny Svechnikov. Svechnikov possesses a quick, hard and accurate shot that often finds the minimal open space versus opposing goalies. Throw in Detroit’s second round draft pick, number 38 overall, and Ovi would look even more menacing in red.
19 Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers are finally on track after enjoying year-after-year of top first round picks. They have their “once in a lifetime talent” in Conor McDavid and are sitting pretty with established veterans (Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon), confident young guns (Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse) and upcoming prospects (Griffin Reinhart and Laurent Brossoit). The Oilers are destined to not only compete, but to excel for a longtime. A trade with Washington would fuse two remarkable generational talents, McDavid and Ovechkin. Edmonton could send over a couple of established "Ryans" - Ryan Strome and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and 2016’s 4th overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi to immediately make the Capitals younger. The rest of the hockey world watches in awe as Ovechkin and McDavid rule the league.
18 Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers tried to draft Alex Ovechkin in the 2003 draft even though he was ineligible because of his age; he missed the deadline by a few days. Knowing what they were missing out on, the Panthers argued that he was eligible if you take leap years into account. You got to respect the determination. Florida could make a push for Ovechkin now and get that true marketable superstar they’ve been lacking. Plus, picture Ovi and Jagr playing together. The Panthers could send Vincent Trocheck and their first round, 10th overall pick to Washington along with Nick Bjugstad, who at 6'6" and 218 lbs could throw his weight around and pack a punch in Washington.
17 Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles were kings of hockey after winning the cup in 2012 and 2014 but their time on the throne may be dwindling. Their minor league system isn’t spectacular and they’re currently backed up with a bunch of bad contracts. The Kings best bet would be to trade for Ovechkin and remain competitive for a couple of more years while this core squad stays in tact. The Kings would have to send their top prospect Adrian Kempe Washington’s way and one of their two big Canadian forwards, Tanner Pearson or Tyler Toffoli. Los Angeles’ 11th overall pick in the draft could help sweeten the deal that would bring Ovi to Hollywood and plant him in alongside Jeff Carter.
16 Minnesota Wild
The Wild were playing some kind of hockey and were contenders for the cup until they scuffled in March and dealt with a first round playoff elimination in 2017. With their Stanley Cup window shrinking, the Wild may be desperate to make a move for Ovechkin. Ovechkin could be reunited with his former coach Bruce Boudreau for a deal that centers around Minnesota’s two big, young defensemen: Mathew Dumba and Jonas Brodin. To provide future offensive help, the Caps would also need to pry away Alex Tuch whose stick handling and quick shot suggest he can be a consistent scorer in the NHL. Tuch recognizes and analyzes plays quickly and his speed helps him execute plays properly. Minnesota would benefit by having Parise and Ovi together and their offense would – you guess it – go wild.
15 Montreal Canadiens
Having just moved a prized trade piece in Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin, the Habs could address their lack of scoring by nabbing The Great Eight and fortify a strong offense in front of the best goalie in the world. Ovechkin has been vocal about how much he loves Montreal and it would be so fitting to put the most abundant scorer in the league in the mecca of hockey. Going over to Washington would be a couple of young, Russian snipers in Nikita Scherbak and Alex Galchenyuk, aged 21 and 22 respectively. Ovechkin would be that Habs’ power forward they’ve so desperately been searching for and he would be treated like royalty in the bleu, blanc et rouge.
14 Nashville Predators
Fresh off their first ever Stanley Cup appearance, the Predators could bring in Ovechkin and really make things loud in Smashville. Pairing Ovechkin and Subban together would make for an entertaining and flashy tandem. In return, the Caps could receive Ryan Ellis to headline their defense and Swedish forward Viktor Arvidsson. Arvidsson,23, is a highly skilled forward with fantastic scoring instincts. As a topper, Nashville could also include 20-year-old Kevin Fiala in the deal, a Swiss forward who is tough to shake off the puck and is a very tricky dangler. Dishing Ovi off to Nashville would give the Capitals a refreshed roster and would pretty much punch Nashville’s ticket back to the Stanley Cup finals.
13 New Jersey Devils
The Devils would be an intriguing trade opportunity for the Capitals. They lost Ilya Kovalchuk who defected back to Russia and haven’t had a true goal scorer since the departure of Zach Parise. They could wash away the sour taste of the defunct Kovalchuk by upgrading to Ovechkin. The Devils currently boast the first overall pick of 2017 and could dangle that, d-man Damon Severson and Czech forward Pavel Zacha to entice the Capitals to make a move for Ovi. The Caps would benefit by drafting a future first-line player and Severson would add some bulk on the blueline. The Devils could market Ovechkin as their superstar and with over 21$ million in cap space, would free up a lot of options for New Jersey. Sneaky Devils.
12 New York Islanders
The Islanders may still be uncertain about which arena they call home, but one thing that’s for sure is they’re loaded with young talent. John Tavares has yet to skate alongside a true winger and pairing him with Ovechkin would challenge as the best duo in the Eastern Conference. A couple of mid-20-year-old American forwards could headline a deal heading to Washington in Brock Nelson and Anders Lee. Nelson is strong in the faceoff circle and has good speed to go along with a big frame and a heavy shot. Lee is a difficult player to move off the puck and has immense power in the corners and along the boards who also has a knack for finding the back of the net. Toss in a second round draft pick in 2018 and Ovi and Tavares could tear up New York together.
11 New York Rangers
Thirsty for blueline help, the Capitals could send Ovi and Brooks Orpik to the Rangers for three of New York’s top young guns; J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey. Those three would completely revamp Washington’s left side while Dan Girardi and Orpik would form two big stoppers defensively for the Rangers. Ovechkin would thrive with the speed game that the Rangers play. Dishing off their three top left-wingers would halt the Rangers rebuilding process but blending Ovechkin onto a roster with Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash in front of Henrik Lundqvist would make New York shine ever more.
10 Ottawa Senators
Ottawa was a fun surprise team of 2017. But when you look at their team, there’s no reason they should have surprised – they’re good. Craig Anderson has emerged as a top tier goaltender and there’s no denying that Erik Karlsson could be the best defenseman in the NHL. Adding to the Sens already young, exciting roster is their impressive minor league system that they chip away at to trade for Ovechkin. Colin White is a dominating two way centre that could go to Washington. He’s a total-package type player who looks great with a letter on his jersey. Nick Paul is a strong, skilled winger that could go as well. Thomas Chabot is an agile, puck-moving defenseman who could provide some reliability to the Caps defense. In trading with the Sens for Ovi, Washington would grab a centre, a winger and a defenseman all primed for quality time in the NHL.
9 Philadelphia Flyers
The Broadstreet Bullies have been struggling lately. But picture how good Ovechkin would look in the nicest jerseys in hockey? Not to mention how much Ovi would thrive skating alongside Claude Giroux and vice-versa. The Flyers could send over their young Russain defender Ivan Provorov, who enjoyed a productive rookie campaign [6 goals, 24 assists, 166 blocks] and 25-year-old centre Brayden Schenn [25 goals, 30 assists, 189 hits] for Ovechkin. With the second overall pick the Flyers would be happy to cement their young prospects and the Caps would get young, already established presence in return.
Think about how juicy the battle of Pennsylvania rivalry would become with Alexander the Great right in the middle of it versus Sidney Crosby.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins
Speaking of Crosby, imagine making everyone’s dreams come true by having Ovi and Sid on the same team? Two legendary talents skating side by side? It’s not like the Penguins have trouble scoring or that either team would swap with their archrivals. The Capitals would grab Evgeni Malkin and Conor Sheary who enjoyed a solid breakout campaign. Malkin would no longer have to share the spotlight with Crosby and would thrive in Washington. Fresh off his second Stanley Cup, Sheary would continue to blossom into superstardom. Meanwhile, Ovechkin, Crosby and Phil Kessel would all play together and bring three in a row to Pittsburgh. That’d be a lot of the number 8 on one line of jerseys.
7 San Jose Sharks
Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have both gotten a bit long in the shark tooth. With their pending free agency it might be time for Shark’s GM Doug Wilson to pull the trigger and nab Ovechkin. Ovechkin’s style of play would fit perfectly with the Sharks and though Joe Pavelski would have to give up his jersey number, it’d be a worthwhile sacrifice. The Sharks’ top prospect Timo Meier would be the centerpiece of a deal with leftwinger prospect Nikolay Goldobin as a sweetener and 23-year-old Tomas Hertl as the topper.
Think how scary the Pacific Division would be if the Great Eight became a Great White.
6 St. Louis Blues
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong already made a deal with the Capitals in 2017, why not hit redial and do another for Ovi? The Capitals would want Russian centre Ivan Barbashev in a deal for Ovechkin. Barbashev competes hard at both ends of the ice, and uses his 6’1” frame to create room for himself and his teammates. Plus he’s only 21 years old. Jaden Schwartz would be part of an Ovi deal as well. Schwartz has already established himself as a premier NHL forward and he’s still just 24 years old. He popped 19 goals last year and added 36 helpers while averaging 18 minutes of ice time. A second round draft pick would help better the deal in bringing Ovechkin to St. Louis where he and Vladimir Taresenko could have a “sniper-off” on a gamely basis.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning surged late last year and made a strong run at making the playoffs during an off year despite a lengthy injury to Steven Stamkos. They’re primed to rebound assuming everyone stays healthy. Trading for Ovechkin would spark some serious lightning in Tampa Bay. Brayden Point would have to be part of a deal with Washington, who at 20 years old, is set for a long and outstanding career. Prospect Adam Erne would have to take his soft hands and quick, blistering shot to Washington along with 24 year old Vladislav Namestnikov. Fresh off a new contract, Stamkos and Ovechkin would flourish for a long time in front of promising netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs have been in the NHL’s basement for a long time now but that’s quickly changing. They possess one of, if not the best, young rosters in the entire league. But a deal with Washington would quickly change that. The Leafs would definitely hold on to budding superstar Auston Matthews, meaning they’d have to include William Nylander and Mitch Marner in a deal for Alex. Ovechkin wouldn’t address the Leafs need for defensive help but pairing Matthews with Ovechkin would jeopardize the Leafs 50 year Stanley Cup winless streak. A trade-off that Leafs fans probably wouldn’t hate.
3 Vancouver Canucks
With attendance and TV ratings down in Vancouver, the Canucks could look to trade for Ovechkin to keep attention on the franchise. It would be costly though and would dampen their rebuild. Ovechkin would suit up for the Canucks and Vancouver would send over a trio of forwards: Brock Boeser, Jake Virtanen and Bo Horvat. Boeser has amazing puck skills, an accurate shot and a quick release. He’s got great vision that would bode well alongside Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom. Jake Virtanen is a speedy power forward who’s a heavy hitter. Bo Horvat enjoyed his second season in the bigs with 20 goals and 32 assists. The Capitals would sit pretty with a quick rebuild and Vancouver would pay more attention to the Sedin twins and Ovechkin playing side-by-side.
2 Vegas Golden Knights
It’s tough to hazard a guess from a team that actually just assembled their team together. But if anyone could make it happen it’s the NHL’s newest team’s GM George McPhee. McPhee watched Ovechkin turn a depleted Capitals franchise into one of the league’s most popular team. The Golden Knights want to make an immediate impact during their inaugural season and bringing in Ovechkin would win fans over instantly. Defenseman Griffin Reinhart would have to be part of the deal as would forward Cody Eakin. Vegas would have to empty out their first-ever draft order by trading Washington the 6th overall pick and the 34th round pick as well as next year's first round pick as well. It’s a long shot but anything can happen in Vegas.
1 Winnipeg Jets
Trading for Ovechkin wouldn’t help the Jets’ goaltending predicament but it would be something to see him on a team with Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien. That’s a lot of smashing. The Jets would have to give up a hefty chunk of their promising young talent for Ovi. Heading over to Washington would be Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine. Both players have immense skills and are oozing with potential. They’re also both so young, at 20 years old, they wouldn’t even be allowed to legally drink in the States. Connor is a quick moving, sly shooting forward and Laine is on the brink of becoming a superstar; he compares himself to Ovechkin and his 36 goals in his rookie season help to cement that assumption.
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