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Analysis: Ovechkin deal proves owners can spend

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Well, isn’t this interesting. Didn’t we have a year-long lockout a couple of years ago because teams like the Washington Capitals couldn’t afford to pay runaway salaries like the one they’re going to be giving Alex Ovechkin for the next 13 seasons?

So this is what you must do the next time Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, or any one of his cronies complain about their financial state.

Ignore them, laugh at them, look incredulously at them with your mouth agape, but please don’t buy their malarkey for a second.

You could say the Capitals had little choice but to offer Ovechkin somewhere near the fully mandated $10 million and they did. After all, he’s one of the league’s most talented players and the prospect of losing him was far more difficult to fathom for the Capitals than the prospect of paying him a minimum 20 percent of the team payroll.

The cap hit will be $9.53 million, about as close as you can get without hitting double digits without the decimal point.

But they did have a choice on the term. Thirteen years is simply preposterous for any player, regardless of his star quality. And now that he’s throwing that kind of money at Ovechkin, does it make sense to stop there? Well, no it doesn’t.

Leonsis and the Capitals will now have to join the arms race and spend to the cap. No sense in paying one of the best players in the game that kind of money and not surrounding him with any kind of talent.

In a likely best-case scenario, Ovechkin will average 50 goals and about 100 points per season through the life of this contract. Could they not have signed three players for $3 million each, which could have given them more than that?

And so it goes on. The more we see deals like this, the more two things become clear.

First, the Rick DiPietro contract is looking better with each passing deal and secondly, the league will most definitely insist on limiting the term of deals in the next collective bargaining agreement.

We can only wait to see whether it will result in another lockout.


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