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Ovechkin, Holtby status unchanged after Backstrom signs with Capitals

Forward is eligible to sign contract extension July 1, while goalie can become UFA same day

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby were excited to hear that Nicklas Backstrom signed a five-year, $46 million contract with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, keeping the 32-year-old center from becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but said that it won't impact their future contract talks.

Holtby, who is in the final season of a five-year, $30.5 million contract signed July 24, 2015, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. After meeting before the start of training camp in September, the Capitals and the 30-year-old goalie agreed to put off talks until after the season.

"Nothing's changed there," Holtby said Wednesday.

Holtby appreciated that Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan kept him informed throughout negotiations with Backstrom, but said his interest was more about Backstrom's situation than his own. 

"You never know the business side of it, but as a teammate of him you want him to get that done quicker or as quick as possible," Holtby said. "So, it's awesome that they were able to work something out and he's going to stay a Capital."

Backstrom, who negotiated his contract without an agent, said Ovechkin asked him almost daily about the contract talks, so the Capitals captain had a pretty good idea of how they were progressing.

"I was just interested in what was happening," Ovechkin said. "I knew what's going on and he told me some stuff that's happening. He asked me some advice. I'm happy that it's done."

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Ovechkin, who is tied with Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres for third in the NHL with 28 goals this season, has one season after this one remaining on his 13-year, $124 million contract that was signed Jan. 10, 2008. The 34-year-old left wing is eligible to sign an extension beginning on July 1, so he will soon be going through a similar process to Backstrom's.

"We'll see what's going to happen," Ovechkin said. "Obviously, we can't talk until July 1, but we'll see. I'm not in a rush and I think [MacLellan] and (owner) Ted [Leonsis] and the whole organization are not in a rush to sign me."

Ovechkin understands well why Backstrom wanted to stay in Washington. Ovechkin is in his 15th season with the Capitals after they selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft.

"I think as a player you want to stay in one spot because your family is here, you have lots of friends, you have a very good relationship with the city, with the organization," Ovechkin said. "And, for us you don't want to move because it became a second home. And I think for him, he knows everybody here, he knows this area and he grew up here and basically the same happen with me and with the other players."

Knowing that Backstrom will be with the Capitals for at least five more seasons is another reason for Ovechkin to want to stay too, but he said he was never worried Backstrom would leave.

"I was pretty comfortable because I knew 100 percent that he will sign because he's our No. 1 center, he's a top guy in the League and the organization don't let him go," Ovechkin said.

Although Backstrom did a good job negotiating on his own behalf, Ovechkin isn't interested in hiring him to as an agent.

"No, I'm good," said Ovechkin, who negotiated his current contract without an agent. "I stick with myself."

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