Caps Make Ovechkin No. 1 Pick In Draft
Ovechkin also has been tapped to play for Russia in the World Cup, which features the best NHL players. The last 18-year-old to play in that tournament was Eric Lindros of Team Canada.
Although the large contingent of Capitals fans at RBC Center roared their approval for choosing Ovechkin, it may be a while before they see him in a Washington jersey.
Commissioner Gary Bettman gave no indication Friday that there has been progress in negotiations with the players' union toward a collective bargaining agreement. The current one expires Sept. 15, and an owners' lockout is expected to disrupt next season.
On top of that, the player transfer contract between the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation also has expired. Russian hockey officials want no part of a new deal -- instead they want to negotiate independently with NHL teams, a move that could cost the Capitals millions of dollars for Ovechkin's rights.
McPhee and Ovechkin's agent, Don Meehan, expressed optimism this weekend that getting Ovechkin, who is under contract to Dynamo for another year, in a Capitals uniform won't prove too difficult.
McPhee, however, said he will not be in a rush to sign Ovechkin, who likely will earn the rookie maximum of $1.3 million dollars per season for the next three years if he is signed under the current bargaining agreement. Performance bonuses could allow him to earn several million more.
"There's some uncertainty regarding the CBA, so we'll wait until that becomes clearer before we make some decisions," McPhee said. "Same goes for the IIHF. It's our understanding that the league is working with the IIHF to get an agreement, and we're hopeful that, by September, both things will be taken care of. And then we act."
Washington will make six more picks Sunday, when rounds four through nine are held beginning at 9 a.m.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Alexander Ovechkin, left, and Caps owner Ted Leonsis take in the sights at the NHL draft in Raleigh, N.C.
(Tami Chappell -- Reuters)
_____Capitals Draft Picks_____
1. Alexander Ovechkin, 6 feet 2, 212 pounds, LW, Moscow.
27. (from Boston) Jeff Schultz, 6-6, 212, D, Salem, Mass.
29. (from Detroit) Mike Green, 6-1, 198, D, Calgary, Alberta.
33. Chris Bourque, 5-7, 170, C, Boston.
62. (from Boston) Michail Yunkov, 6-0, 180, C-W, Voskresensk, Russia.
66. Sami Lepisto, 6-0, 176, D, Espoo, Finland.
88. (from New Jersey) Clayton Barthel, 6-2, 205, D, Lahr, Germany.