By most players’ standards, Ovechkin’s 2016-17 totals of 33 goals, 36 assists and 313 shots are spectacular numbers -- All-Star material, even. By the Russian superstar’s standards, though, this was a disastrous season -- after all, we're talking about a guy who had cleared 50 goals while taking 380-plus shots in each of the past three campaigns. In many ways, last season mirrored a similar down season to the one that Ovie suffered through in 2011-12, when he notched a career-low 65 points. You might say that, in a way, the game is in the process of passing him by, with teams placing a greater focus on speed than ever, and Ovie not as fast or as fit as he used to be. The historic contrast between his goal-scoring exploits and his soft-looking body is legendary, but as you get past 30, that model becomes unsustainable. Now, that said, Ovechkin has to feel his clock ticking as far as lifting the Stanley Cup is concerned, which would suggest that he'll be plenty motivated to get into tip-top shape, but then again, he was noted for his soft play in the postseason last year, when the Caps had a very reasonable chance to go all the way. His weight, body and effort level when he reports to training camp will tell us a lot about what kind of performance to expect this season.
Coming off his third consecutive 50-goal season, Ovechkin remains the most feared scorer in the NHL, a serious threat to put the puck in the net whenever it’s on his stick. Despite that, he actually posted his worst full-season point total (71) since 2011-12, as Ovie isn’t piling up many assists these days. His job is to let it rip, and he knows it, having led the league in goals for four straight years. Sure, he’s essentially a one-dimensional fantasy asset outside of leagues that count hits, but he’s so dominant in the game’s most crucial dimension that he remains in the discussion about the league’s best player year after year. With last season’s supporting cast almost entirely back alongside him again in 2016-17, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe the Russian superstar won’t pile up the goals once again.
Barry Trotz may be the best thing to ever happen to Alexander the Gr8. Ovie looked like a new man under Trotz, who lets his offensive players play offense and his defensive guys play defense. That’s not to say you can’t avoid responsibility, but it mean you get to optimize your strengths. And that motivates you to put in the effort on the other side of the puck. Ovie potted 36 points in the first half, but leapt to 45 in the second. And his 53 goals won him the Rocket Richard Trophy again. But more impressively perhaps was the pendulum swing in his plus-minus – he went from minus-35 in 2013-14 to plus-10 last season. That’s an enormous jump, and a clear indication that he’s fully ‘bought in’ to the ways of the Trotz. He's got reinforcements this year, too -- the Caps brought in T.J. Oshie, who's likely to combine with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to form a fearsome top line. Ovi's back to being one of the top few players off the board, and another season of 50-plus goals should net him some more hardware.
Usually, a player winning his fourth Rocket Richard Trophy would signify a successful season, but Ovechkin would be the first to admit the 2013-2014 campaign didn’t go according to plan. The 28-year-old is as elite of a goal scorer as you are likely to find in the NHL, but the Capitals captain was a lightning rod for criticism last year. From being skewered for his minus-35 rating to bearing the responsibility for Team Russia’s collapse at Sochi to the Capitals missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, there is likely no one on the Capitals roster more looking forward to 2014-2015 season than Ovechkin. Debate swirls in D.C. over how Ovechkin will be used under new coach Barry Trotz, whose reputation as a defense-first coach has raised concerns the two may clash. However, at this point, there is no evidence to support such a rift, as both Ovechkin and Trotz have stated they are committed to getting the team back on track. Given Ovechkin’s talents, it is unlikely that his offensive production will drop significantly under Trotz, although fantasy owners would be wise to expect a slight decline -- at least in the early going -- as the transition takes place. Even with the team renewing focus on structure, Ovechkin should be dependable for 40-plus goals and point-per-game production, making him a safe bet to be the first or second winger off the board in most formats.
Ovechkin had a truly unique season. He tallied 32 goals in 48 games, including 23 in his final 23 contests, to become a three-time winner of both the Hart and the Richard Trophies. He also finished third in the League in points (56), leading the Capitals to a blistering stretch drive (11-1-1 record) in April and their fifth Southeast Division title in the last six years. Ovechkin was named as the starting RW on the NHL First All-Star team and was also named to the second team as a LW! -- The position he played for in each of his seven prior NHL seasons but for just a handful of games in 2012-13. Ovechkin remains a singular talent and a top four selection in any format.
Ovechkin has consistently been one of the top names in fantasy drafts the last several years. There is doubt on whether he should be this year. The talent is certainly there, but opposing teams are getting smarter as to how to defend Ovechkin. Ovi’s goal numbers have been down the last two years, hanging around the upper 30’s the last two years from the low 50’s in years prior. He has also dropped 20 points from his totals in each of the last two years, notching 109 three years ago, 85 in 2010-2011, and 65 last year. Now, his 38 goals in 2011-2012 were good for fifth in the league, and he is still just 27, but question remains on whether he is an easy top-five choice this year; regardless, he shouldn't fall too far come draft day.
Ovechkin is one of the top talents in the NHL, but gets a lot of heat for not getting his team anywhere when it matters. He needs to provide more of a leadership role for Washington to be relevant come playoff time. He is a bull on skates who will fire on net from anywhere, at any time. When draft day rolls around it is usually Ovie or Sidney Crosby as the top pick. With a slight down year last season, some may be reluctant to pull the trigger but that is where you will reap the benefits. Expect around 100 points, 400 shots, 30 power-play points, and a healthy plus/minus. When he's at his peak, he can carry the load to fantasy championships.
Simply put, Ovechkin is the face of the NHL, but you may have already known that from his dazzling highlight reels and habitual lamp lighting. What separates him from other greats like Sidney Crosby is his ability to fire over 400 shots in a season, and still boast a healthy 12.5 shot percentage. Ovechkin is also surrounded by an unselfish supporting cast, helping him routinely deliver 50-goal seasons. As an added bonus, Ovechkin has shown an increase in penalty minutes in three successive seasons. Draft him as your No. 1 star in all fantasy formats.
The reigning back-to-back Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson award winner is coming off a 56 goal season, adding 54 assists to finish two points (110) behind last year’s total. Is there anything this kid can’t do? He has a shot that cameras barely can follow, skates like a madman on a mission, and hits like a bruising defender. Getting through the first round of the playoffs only will make him hungrier this year after the team’s second round exit last season. There is no doubt that Ovechkin will continue to dominate, and could easily be noted as the best player in the NHL. He will continue to be their top threat on the power play and his ice time should continue to be around 23 to 25 minutes. His line mates will only increase his potential after center Nicklas Backstrom put up another great year in his young career. During the postseason, he tallied 11 goals and 10 assists in the two seven game series’. The star is a bull on skates, with the drive to be only the best and he very well may be. Washington’s front office is watching their $124 million investment payoff on a daily basis.
The reigning Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson award winner, is coming off a 65 goal season, the first of any NHL player to score over 60 goals since Mario Lemieux did so in 1996. He also earned the Art Ross Trophy by leading the league with 112 points. We can argue he is the most dominant player in the NHL, and is an amazing talent. It will be tough for him to repeat the stats he put up in 2007-08, but he has the skill and players around him to do so. He will continue to be the top gun on the power play and his ice time should continue to be around 23 to 25 minutes. He finished with a plus 28 rating, which was a 47 point turn- around from the previous year. The Capitals star has the speed, size, skating ability, and a shot that is absolutely unbelievable. Add to that his vision, and you get 47 assists last season. He is arguably the top winger in the game and his ceiling for improvement is never ending. Expect more of what he did last year in this coming season, as he hopes to lead his team further than round one of the playoffs.
Ovechkin was a bit of a disappointment in his sophomore season, scoring six few goals and picking up eight fewer assists while finishing with a rating 21 points lower than he did in his rookie campaign. 46 goals and 46 assists, however, can hardly be termed a disappointment, and there are many reasons to expect Ovechkin to improve on those numbers this season. Instead of Dainius Zubrus and Chris Clark, Ovechkin is expected to skate next the more offensively skilled Michael Nylander and Viktor Kozlov, the presence of whom should help reduce some of the focus from opposing defenses on the talented winger. In addition, the threat of a dangerous second line could further spread opposing defenses thin, allowing Ovechkin to free himself of the opponent’s top checking unit at times. Finally, he’s a year older, and rumor has it that this has been his most productive offseason from a conditioning standpoint. While others might shy away in favor of some other superstars due to Ovechkin’s poor rating last season, he should easily clear the 100-point mark this season and could challenge Sidney Crosby for the scoring title.
No longer a draft-day secret, Ovechkin is now a lock for a top five pick in almost any format. Among his numerous accomplishments last season, Alexander the Great finished third in the NHL in goals (52), 20th in assists (54), third in points (106), sixth in power play goals (21), second in power play points (52), 19th in shorthanded goals (3), first in shots on goal (425), fifth in shootout goals (6) and, surprisingly enough, 14th in hits (172), including seventh among forwards. And he did it all without a linemate tallying more than 57 points and without being able to order an alcoholic beverage in the U.S. Like a fine wine, however, Ovechkin will continue to get better with age, and if he can stay healthy -- he was a frequent target of opposing goons over the second half of last season, though at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds he can hold his own -- Ovechkin will continue to top the statistical leaderboards in 2006-07.
It's hard to label a 19-year-old who has never touched the ice in North America as the odds-on favorite to lead the team in points, but Ovechkin -- the No. 1 overall pick in 2004 -- will undergo a trial by fire and is almost certain to see time on the Caps' top line and power play unit. He and 2005's top pick, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, should battle it out all season for Rookie of the Year honors, but the lack of proven high-end talent around Ovechkin means he might struggle a bit more at times this season. Ovechkin -- who scored 27 points in only 37 games with Moscow Dynamo of the Russian Super League in 2004-05 -- is one of the most highly touted rookies of the past decade, and he shouldn't disappoint point-wise in 2005-06.