Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin will start training camp as a right wing, but coach Barry Trotz said he could switch sides again while trying to get the NHL's leading goal-scorer to improve.
"Alex has got a little too much glide maybe in his game," Trotz told CSN Washington on Saturday at the 2014 NHL Draft. "He's trying to score too much, so he's getting not as much space actually. You remember Alex when he would get that speed and he's moving and he can do things with the puck. He can beat you with his skill, he can beat you with his size and speed and hold you off. When you're standing still, you're really easy to cover."
Coach Adam Oates moved Ovechkin to right wing two seasons ago, and he led the NHL with 51 goals but had a minus-35 rating last season. Trotz said increasing Ovechkin's retreat into the defensive zone should improve both statistics.
SOG: 386 | +/-: -35
At the start, that will come from the right wing, but Trotz did not rule out time at left wing.
"Right now, I know he can go on the left," Trotz said. "He did pretty good on the right side. I think there are a lot of benefits from the right side, coming out of your own end you're naturally turning into the play and facing the puck.
"Offensively, getting over to the left side, he uses people as screens and that helps offensively. With the system we play, he'll end up on the left side anyway. We'll balance it out. I told Alex, 'I know you can play both sides, but right now let's start you on the right. You had good success last year.'"
Washington finished 38-30-14 last season, fifth in the Metropolitan Division and three points out of the second Eastern Conference wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Oates was fired April 26. Trotz was hired May 26 and met with Ovechkin prior to the NHL Awards, which were held June 24.
"He's going to explain to everybody, it's not about just me, everybody will have to change," Ovechkin told The Canadian Press there. "We just talked about how he wants to play with me and how he wants to play with the team. We talked about good things -- lots of good things, lots of bad things -- he sees what he can change with the team and what he can change with my game."
Trotz on Saturday said he thinks Ovechkin sometimes gets too much credit when the Capitals have success and too much blame when they don't.
"If we're going to win a championship in Washington everybody has to give something," Trotz told reporter Chuck Gormley. "We didn't make the playoffs, so we can't stay the same, so let's get better. My job is to make every player on that team better.
"There are still things Alex can do better. He gets a lot of focus because he's been the face of the franchise and got the franchise turned around."