First the big news: TSN and The Washington Post are reporting that RFA defenseman Mike Green and the Washington Capitals have agreed to a four-year deal at $5.25 million per season. Depending on how things play out for Michael Nylander and UFA Cristobal Huet, Green could be the second-highest paid player on the team next season. Hooray for offer sheet threats!
Now, on to the Capitals' highest paid player. Puck Daddy's official hockey comrade Dmitry Chesnokov passes along and translates this interview with Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin, conducted by Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport. Here are some hockey-related questions, highlighted by his candid comments about Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Fedorov and his own huge contract with the Capitals:
Q: People wonder if you ever thought that you may have miscalculated signing a thirteen year $124 million contract...
OVECHKIN: Why would I think that?
Q: Because the cap in the NHL is rising and in a few years your $9.5 million per year on average contract might look "average" comparing to other offers. Jagr is not too excited about getting $6 million nowadays.
I only look positive at the fact that Jagr is getting offered a lot of money. Jaromir deserves a big contract. And let me have my fixed salary. You know the saying that you cannot make all the money in the world? I like it. It is so much easier to know that I will not have a headache about money until I am 35. It is better than to test the free agency every two or three years and negotiate contracts.
Q. If in a few years your $9.5 million look "average" will you ask Ted Leonsis for bigger bonuses?
I wouldn't do that. The contract I was offered in Washington is good enough. I haven't received any money from it yet, though, because it doesn't kick in until next season.
Q. Do you know if Sergei Fedorov is going to stay in Washington?
I am voting with both of my hands and legs in favor of Sergei staying! Of course, the decision doesn't rest with players, but with the Caps management. I know that Sergei has a great desire to play for our club. He really liked it in Washington.
Q. The last time you spoke was in May after the World Championship?
No, we keep in touch all the time. For example, we spoke on the phone just a couple of days ago. And Fedorov confirmed that he would prefer to stay in Washington.
Q. Could Jagr really come to play in Russia?
I think that Jaromir himself will decide where he will play. He is one of the best hockey players in the world. And I am sure that he will earn every penny of the contract he will sign. And if it so happens that he actually ends up in the KHL, it will be a major plus to our hockey. Players like him are not only the face of a team, but the face of the league.
Q. Do you think Washington should be active on the market this summer? Does the team need to strengthen?
The first thing we need to do is to keep the players whose contracts have ended. Mike Green, for example, who is set to become a RFA. But of course other players can also help. That's because we are setting our sights on the Stanley Cup. Actually, George [McPhee] knows what to do. So I don't want to say anything to disturb him.
Q. How are you spending your summer?
Having a lot of fun! Because I will have to start working out soon. A few days ago I got back from Turkey. I am going to visit St Petersburg soon.
Q. Are you going to have your summer workouts there?
Dmitry Kapitonov, my personal trainer, hasn't picked a place yet. But most likely we will do it in Moscow.
Having covered the Capitals last season, I can't tell you how much Fedorov meant to that locker room after he was traded from Columbus at the deadline. He was a steady influence in the room, but he was also the first guy to keep the bench's emotions in check during the Capitals' unlikely run to the Southeast Division title. It all comes down to money and years, but Ovechkin's not the only one on that team hoping Fedorov returns.
As for Green: I've told anyone who would listen that Mike Green has shown flashes of potential in a defenseman I haven't seen since Scott Niedermayer broke in with the New Jersey Devils. He's the best end-to-end skater at the position since Niedermayer, and his work on the power-play blue line is a thing of beauty. He's going to stop making mistakes on the defensive end at some point; kudos to the Capitals for getting this done before Green signed an offer sheet.