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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

It is generally assumed Alex Ovechkin will sign with the Washington Capitals and remain with the team that drafted him first overall in 2004. Even if another team signed him to an offer sheet next summer, assuming he doesn’t agree to an extension before then, the Capitals would match the offer regardless of the cost.

But what if Ovechkin doesn’t want to play in Washington any longer? What if the young superstar tells the Caps he’d prefer to play someplace a little more cosmopolitan than Washington? You know, it could happen.

And frankly, I think Caps GM George McPhee should, at the very least, explore the possibility of trading the 22-year-old sniper. Now, the notion of trading such a gifted young player might seem preposterous to some, but really it shouldn’t. Imagine the offers McPhee might field if he let it be known Ovechkin was available as trade bait.

Let’s face it, with Ovechkin in their lineup, the Capitals have shown no signs of being a playoff team. There are no guarantees re-signing Ovechkin will make the Capitals a successful franchise. In fact, if history has taught us anything, moving a young star just might be the best medicine for a struggling team.

Consider the Colorado Avalanche. When the franchise was still located in Quebec, Eric Lindros put a gun to the team’s head, demanding a trade. The Nordiques considered a few options and ultimately traded Lindros for a package that included Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a first round draft pick and $15 million. (Another offer of Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alex Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, three first round draft picks and $12 million was tendered by the New York Rangers.)

We all know the results of that trade – Colorado won two Stanley Cups and the Flyers won squat.

It’s hard to say what the Capitals could expect in a trade for Ovechkin, but my guess is, even in a salary cap world, there would be a number of teams that would put together an impressive package to get him. And my guess is the Capitals would then be a heck of a lot closer to being a contender than they are now.

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