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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Ovechkin all-time great with or without Stanley Cup's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Here is the May 23 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday throughout the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.


Does Alex Ovechkin need to get to the Stanley Cup Final to secure his legacy as one of the greats? Does he need to win a Final? -- @WAPratt

Ovechkin winning the Stanley Cup would secure his legacy in the minds of people who believe he hasn't done so already. Getting to the Final is not enough to appease those critics, the people judging him against other great players in NHL history. He would have to win it. However, I'm not in that category that believes a championship is the only way he gets put in the category of all-time greats. I think Ovechkin is already an all-time great. 

He is the best goal-scorer of his generation and, if you consider era-adjusted numbers, he may be the greatest goal-scorer of all time. Ovechkin is 19th in NHL history with 607 goals in 1,003 games (.605 per game). He is fourth in goals per game among those who have played at least 700 NHL games, behind Mike Bossy (.762), Mario Lemieux (.754) and Pavel Bure (.623). Wayne Gretzky, the NHL with 894 goals, is fifth (.601). Imagine if Ovechkin played in the 1980s, when there was more scoring than today. He might already be at 700-plus. I don't think that's a stretch. It's another seven or eight goals per season for each of his 13 seasons. 

Ovechkin has carried a franchise for more than a decade. He has helped the Washington Capitals reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 10 of the past 11 seasons. His numbers in the playoffs are good: 111 points (57 goals, 54 assists) in 115 games entering Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, TVAS). His legacy would be solidified without debate if he were to win the Stanley Cup, but I think he's already an all-time great.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm6: Ovechkin does it all for the Caps


Of both teams, Capitals and Lightning, considering their additions and subtractions this season (player-wise), who do you think is the most important add and is there anyone special the teams parted ways with that you think could help them now? -- @TrishTheMiddle

The big additions for the Capitals were rookie forwards Chandler Stephenson and Jakub Vrana. They're quality depth players who can move up and down the lineup. Stephenson made a terrific play to set up Devante Smith-Pelly for his goal in the third period of Game 6 on Monday. 

The big miss for the Capitals is defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft and has been a tremendous addition for them. He's averaging 24:53 of ice time in the playoffs and has six points (two goals, four assists). He'd be playing with John Carlson instead of Michal Kempny. It would be a significant upgrade.

The Lightning's big adds all came from the New York Rangers: forward J.T. Miller and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. McDonagh is playing warriorlike minutes for the Lightning (22:36 per game). He's become their shutdown left-side defenseman. His face tells the story of his playoffs, with a black left eye from the butt end of a Capitals stick and the cut near it from his visor. He has taken pressure off Victor Hedman and allowed him to play a more offensive game. Girardi, who has been paired with Hedman, has been an all-around solid defender. He made two excellent plays to stop Ovechkin rushes in Game 6. Miller has produced on the first line and on the top power-play unit. He's been playing on the Lightning's third line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn. He adds weight and physicality to that line and makes it harder to play against.

The Lightning lost forward Jonathan Drouin in the offseason. He'd be on one of their top three lines. But they traded him to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who is going to be a star and is playing well on the third pair with Braydon Coburn.


Crazy to think players like William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Marc-Andre Fleury all came to the Vegas Golden Knights with additional compensation. In the Seattle expansion draft, do you think we see more teams bite the bullet of losing one player rather than multiple assets? -- @JHurley14

If Seattle gets a team -- nothing is official yet -- I don't think the existing NHL general managers will operate the same way they operated in the Vegas expansion draft. That was a learning experience for many. The lesson is that the talent pool in this league is deep and it's not worth losing two players or high draft picks just to protect one or two players. They will take a closer look at who they have and what their potential might be. I'm sure they did in the Vegas draft, but it's obvious judgment errors were made.

I remember in June thinking that the Florida Panthers were overvaluing some of their defensemen at the expense of Marchessault, who scored 30 goals last season. They protected Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Alexander Petrovic and Mark Pysyk. That cost them Marchessault. Maybe they didn't want to pay Marchessault the contract he got from the Golden Knights (six years, $30 million), but they could have protected him and traded him to get value in return. They chose not to do that. It didn't work out. 

Nobody knew Karlsson would be a No. 1 center and 43-goal scorer. But it felt like the Columbus Blue Jackets giving a first-round pick and a second-round pick (and David Clarkson's contract) to the Golden Knights was too much to ensure they would take Karlsson instead of another core player. Similarly, I felt all along Vegas would select Fleury, which is why I was surprised the Pittsburgh Penguins also gave up a second-round pick to make sure that happened.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm3: Marchessault pots second on empty net


With Fleury giving Patrick Roy-esque performances, the Golden Knights have proven they aren't just a gimmick, they're the real thing. How optimistic is Seattle right now thanks to Vegas, and who do you think could be to Seattle what Fleury has been to Vegas? -- @mikeybox

The pressure will be on Seattle if it gets into the NHL. Vegas has set an almost unmatchable bar for future expansion teams in any league, not just the NHL. I'm not sure if this run by the Golden Knights makes the people trying to get a team in Seattle optimistic about their future or worried about unrealistic expectations. It's probably both. Vegas has proven what good management can do with favorable expansion draft rules, which should be the same for Seattle as they were for Vegas. 

The goalie options for Seattle, provided it enters in the 2020-21 season, could feature a long list of proven veterans like Fleury, who was 32 years old with two years left on his contract when he was selected by Vegas. Braden Holtby of the Capitals and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks could become unrestricted free agents after the 2019-20 season. Holtby would be 31 years old entering the 2020-21 season. Crawford would be 35. Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins would have one year left on his contract. He'd be 33. Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils would have two years left on his contract. He'd be 34. I think it's a long shot, but I wonder if Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens would be an option. He'd be 33 and have six years left on his contract. That might not make sense for an expansion team, but the point is there will be quality options, probably many more I'm not mentioning.


How much can Lou Lamoriello influence John Tavares' decision to re-sign with the New York Islanders? And can he be a factor in a potential Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes? -- @simonrogner

Lamoriello, the Islanders' new president of hockey operations, can have a significant influence on Tavares' pending decision. Lamoriello will bring structure and accountability to the organization. Those are his trademarks. He also wins. If Tavares wants to be in that type of program, he'll re-sign with the Islanders. I don't think it has ever been about money with Tavares and the Islanders. He'll get what he asks for, at least within reason. It has been about his future, about a home, about winning. Lamoriello's hiring doesn't guarantee anything but structure and accountability, but those two things have led to a lot of wins wherever he's been. I believe now more than ever that Tavares will re-sign. If he's been looking for reasons to stay, this is it.


Who will have more of an impact on their new team, Lou Lamoriello with the New York Islanders or Paul Fenton with the Minnesota Wild? -- @TylerDonnellyTD

This is a hard one because in fairness to Fenton, we don't know what he will be like as a general manager. He has been a longtime assistant to David Poile with the Nashville Predators, but this is his first chance as GM. We know what Lamoriello will bring to the Islanders. I referenced it in the above answer. Fenton has impeccable contacts throughout the hockey world. He's well known in GM circles. He's well known by agents. He can get deals done. But it's not fair to compare him to Lamoriello because he hasn't had an opportunity to do what Lamoriello has done.


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