Ovechkin now can stop his regular checking in on how Backstrom’s contract talks were going. All parties can focus solely on the second half of the season, with the Capitals leading the Metropolitan Division with 67 points ahead of Thursday’s game against New Jersey.
“I was pretty comfortable because I knew 100 percent that he will sign because he’s our No. 1 center,” Ovechkin said. “He’s a top guy in the league, and the organization don’t let him go. … I was just interested in what was happening. 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.”
Attention now turns in part to Ovechkin’s own contract situation, knowing that Backstrom’s extension will carry him through the 2024-25 season. Ovechkin’s 13-year, $124 million contract is set to expire after next season. He cannot sign an extension with the Capitals until July 1.
When asked jokingly whether Ovechkin would think about hiring Backstrom as his agent, Ovechkin quipped: “No. I’m good. I stick with myself.” Ovechkin negotiated his 13-year extension without an agent and talked directly with owner Ted Leonsis and former Capitals general manager George McPhee. Agent fees typically can range from 3 to 5 percent.
“Why not?” Backstrom said when asked whether he would recommend negotiating their own deals to other players. “You got all the statistics on paper, and if you are a person that you are comfortable with yourself and you know where you are at in the game, I think there is no downside to it. At the same time, agents are doing a great job as well. They can maybe push some other buttons that players can’t, but at the same time, it is not going to be that big of a difference.”
Ovechkin, 34, said Wednesday that he is in no rush to sign with the organization, and he believes Leonsis and General Manager Brian MacLellan think the same. He wants to remain a Capital, and that is only reaffirmed with the re-signing of Backstrom.
“I think as a player you want to stay in one spot because your family 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 [Backstrom], 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.”
Goaltender Braden Holtby’s situation is different. Holtby, who is on the final year of his five-year, $30.5 million deal, said his situation has not changed and that any contract talks with the Capitals are on hold until after the season.
However, he was happy Backstrom re-signed.
“That’s awesome,” Holtby said. “I couldn’t imagine that guy being anywhere else. He’s been our heart and soul here for a lot of years. So it’s very exciting. It makes you real happy when guys you’ve been around with and that truly deserve the best things get rewarded. Proud for all of us and for him. He’s well deserving.”
Holtby, 30, and Backstrom, 32, were close very early in their Capitals careers and have continued to bond through the years with their growing families. With Ovechkin and John Carlson, they joined the franchise when they were young, single and still learning the ins and outs of the game. They navigated the playoff losses together, never splintering despite the frustrations.
“I think that was kind of nice that we all kind of went through that at the same time,” Holtby said in September of his bond with Backstrom. “That makes it easier to, you know, still focus on hockey when you know what everyone else is going through trying to figure out actually how to have responsibilities. Just real life stuff.”
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