Sunday, June 20, 2004

Alexander Ovechkin

The Washington Capitals won the draft lottery and will be first in line to draft this year. The man who is almost certainly a lock for the #1 pick, Alexander Ovechkin, is widely considered the best Russian player in the draft ever and the best player to come up in the draft since Mario Lemieux. He has been compared to Ilya Kovalchuk, though he is better in the defensive end and apparently has a better attitude. He is seen as capable of competing in the League immediately and is by far the best of what looks to be a weak draft year. There is the usual speculation about whether the team in the #1 position will take the pick or trade it away, either for more spots later in the draft or active players. The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the teams that is actively pursuing such a trade with the Caps. Their assistant GM said as much yesterday when he told a newspaper in Illinois that his team was "talking to Washington and we're talking to them aggressively. This is a franchise-type player we're talking about. The Florida Panthers' former GM, Rick Dudley, admitted to discussing trading up for the #1 spot with Washington before he was fired a few weeks ago. His replacement, Mike Keenan, apparently wants to do the same. The other two teams rumored to be interested are the New York Islanders and our Detroit Red Wings. All of this speculation is likely in vain since the Caps no doubt see the value in a player like Ovechkin and plan on using him to build up their dying franchise. If anyone else gets the guy, it likely will not be the Wings since their standard policy of "everyone's untouchable" seems to still be in place and the Caps would demand too high a price. Stranger things have happened before, though, and maybe they'll be able to work a deal like they did with Robert Lang. I highly doubt it but I can dream can't I? That's the curse the Wings have for being so good for so long. They've had to fight against the built-in cycle system of pro sports and have really had to dig in the draft and on the market to stay at that level. Either way, this draft is going to be interesting and I'll about have a heart attack if the Wings end up getting Ovechkin.


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