Who's the Story in Washington?
LW Alexander Ovechkin's prolific scoring and sensational moves dominated headlines and highlight reels throughout a season in which he captured the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie and became the first rookie to earn First All-Star Team honors since Chicago's Ed Belfour in 1990-91. Ovechkin, who turns 21 on Sept. 17, led all rookies in scoring with 106 points and became the second rookie in history to tally 50 goals and 100 points in a season, following Winnipeg's Teemu Selanne in 1992-93. He also led the NHL in shots with 425 - the most ever for a rookie - and ranked third among all players in points. His 52 goals tied for third in the League and ranked third all-time among rookies to Selanne (76) and Mike Bossy (53).
The first player selected in the 2004 Entry Draft, Ovechkin was the NHL's Offensive Player of the Month and earned Rookie of the Month honors in December and January. He also was an All-Tournament Team selection at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, where he starred for Russia with five goals in eight games. A video clip of his incredible tally Jan. 16 at Phoenix, known in Washington simply as 'The Goal,' has received tens of thousands of online views.
"Right now, there's no question he's the most exciting (player in the NHL)...I've got to tell you, I love the kid. He's the only guy I've ever coached against who scored a goal and blew me a kiss. Pretty good goal, too. You can see he loves to play." - Coyotes head coach/managing director Wayne Gretzky, to the Toronto Star, Feb. 23, 2006.
"He's tremendous, I've watched highlight reel after highlight reel. He plays with incredible passion. He's a tremendous hitter when he wants to hit. He works extremely hard. He's got a bullet for a shot. If he isn't one of the best players in the league at his age or even in the game right now, I'd be hard-pressed to find a more exciting player." - Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, to the Buffalo News, March 14, 2006.
"He's exceeded our offensive expectations, and within a week or so we knew that we had a real special human being here." - Capitals head coach Glen Hanlon, to the Associated Press, April 20, 2006.
In the eight seasons G Olaf Kolzig has been the Capitals' number one goaltender, he has averaged 67 games, 30 victories and four shutouts per season. Kolzig holds virtually every franchise career goaltending record, including games (603), victories (254), minutes (34,923) and shutouts (33).
Selected in the first round, 19th overall, by the Capitals in 1989, Kolzig started the 1989-90 season with the Capitals, appearing in two games before returning to junior hockey. He moved between Washington and the AHL over the next seven seasons before assuming the number-one role in 1997-98.
Kolzig has been a driving force in the community since he arrived in Washington, working closely with the Children's National Medical Center and, more recently, becoming one of the nation's leading spokesmen in raising awareness and funds for autism research. In 2000-01 he accepted the NHL Foundation Player Award for his community efforts, was named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine in January, 2001, and received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2006 for leadership and noteworthy humanitarian contributions to his community.
RW Dainius Zubrus, 28, begins his 10th NHL season. The 6-4, 226-lb. native of Elektrenai, Lithuania enjoyed a career year in 2005-06, setting personal highs in goals (23), assists (34), points (57), power-play goals (13), game-winning goals (five), shots (181) and average ice time per game (20:22).
Philadelphia's 1st-round pick, 15th overall, in 1996, the 18-year-old became the youngest player in Flyers history when he made his debut on opening night of the 1996-97 season. Zubrus has notched 300 points (114 goals, 186 assists) in 610 career NHL games with Philadelphia, Montreal and Washington.
RW Richard Zednik, 30, returns to his original NHL club. The 6-0, 200-lb. native of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, spent most of his first six professional seasons with the Capitals, notching 116 points (63 goals, 53 assists) in 257 games. Zednik was traded to Montreal in March, 2001, and posted 183 points (98 goals, 85 assists) in 322 games for the Canadiens during five seasons.
In 579 NHL games, Zednik has scored 161 goals and notched 138 assists for 299 points. He has scored 19 or more goals five times in his career, including 31 goals in 2002-03. He was Washington's 10th choice, 249th overall, in the 1994 Entry Draft.
Capitals fans eagerly await the return of LW Alexander Semin, 22, a Capitals 1st-round pick (13th overall) in the 2002 Entry Draft who has spent the past two seasons playing in Russia. Semin recorded 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games with the Capitals as a 19-year-old NHL rookie in 2003-04.
"We expect him to step right into the lineup and bring us some talent and grit. He has the potential to be a very good top six forward." - Capitals GM George McPhee, to the Washington Post, April 12, 2006.
The Capitals signed D Brian Pothier from Ottawa, where he was a key contributor to one of the NHL's top defensive units over the past three seasons. Pothier, 29, recorded 35 points (five goals, 30 assists) in 77 games in 2005-06, his best NHL campaign to date. He finished second among Senators defensemen in assists and fourth in points, while his +29 plus/minus rating was tied for third on the team and fifth among all NHL defensemen. Three of his five goals came on the power play.
The New Bedford, Mass. native has played 182 NHL games with Ottawa and Atlanta. Pothier signed as a free agent with the Thrashers in March, 2000 after a standout four-year college career at Rensselaer, made his NHL debut in his first pro season of 2000-01 and was selected the International Hockey League's rookie of the year that season. A Second-Team All-America selection in college, Pothier was twice named to the AHL Second All-Star Team (2003, 2005) and was.
Obtained by Washington in the March, 2004 trade that sent D Sergei Gonchar to Boston, D Shaone Morrisonn, 23, played in his first full NHL season in 2005-06. Boston's 1st-round pick, 19th overall, in the 2001 Entry Draft, Morrisonn recorded 14 points (one goal, 13 assists), a +7 rating and received an average of 20:44 in ice time per game in 80 contests.
D Steve Eminger, Washington's 1st-round pick (12th overall) in the 2002 Entry Draft continued his development in 2005-06, ranking second among Capitals defensemen in average ice time per game (21:20) and third in points (5-13--18) in 66 games.