Capitals expect to sign Alex Ovechkin this week; backtrack on Evgeny Kuznetsov trade talk

capitals not trading kuznetsov now
Nov 9, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) talks with Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) against the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Free Agency is set to open this Wednesday, July 28 at 12 PM ET. The Washington Capitals have the biggest potential free agent in Alexander Ovechkin still without a contract.

There was some recent noise made by Ovechkin himself, when he lightheartedly said there was a chance he could sign in the KHL this season. Many didn’t take it too seriously but in today’s sports world, anything is possible.

Capitals expect to sign Ovechkin before free agency

“I think both parties want the same goal and I think we will get it done by [the start of free agency],” GM Brian MacLellan said via NHL.com. “I anticipate us getting it done by then.”

This has been par for the course since the season ended.

“I’m confident; we still have time,” Ovechkin said in May. “Obviously, I want to finish my career here. I’m pretty sure we will do something soon.”

alex ovechkin contract
Mar 13, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 35 year-old is coming off a 13-year deal worth $124 million. As to what this next contract will look like, there seems to be some uncertainty. Some speculation indicates that it could be just a one-year deal up to $13 million in salary. It’s more likely to be a multi-year deal closer to $11 million.

“I think we are making progress,” MacLellan said confidently. “Our goal is to finish it up here by free agency.”

Ovechkin scored 24 goals and 42 points in 45 games this past season.

Capitals walking back Evgeny Kuznetsov trade talk

Back in May, there was also a lot of talk that Evgeny Kuznetsov was working his way out of town. Leading into the now infamous Tom Wilson game at Madison Square Garden, he was scratched for disciplinary reasons.

“It’s not about that. It’s about we’ve got to work together inside here,” head coach Peter Laviolette answered when asked about Kuznetsov. “There’s got to be rules, there’s got to be boundaries and there’s got to expectations set and you have to be accountable to them.”

Soon after, Insider Pierre LeBrun said that the Capitals were tired of dealing with Kuznetsov’s issues and may look to trade him this offseason. At the end of the season, MacLellan indicated he would consider a move. This placed Kuznetsov on everyone’s trade bait board.

The 29 year-old pivot has three years remaining at $7.8 million AAV with a 15 team no move clause. He scored 29 points in 41 games this past season, and it seems MacLellan is singing a different tune.

“He’s a good player, we like the player and I don’t know, we’ve never said we’re trading Kuznetsov. I said we’re open to discussions with most of our players for the trade market,” he said. “It’s never been, we are moving Kuznetsov.”