While Alex Ovechkin has been the butt of many jokes since his Washington Capitals were once again eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, it turns out that it’s not just his pride that has taken a beating this spring. The superstar forward will not join Team Russia at the World Championships because of a lower-body injury. Ovechkin apparently had been taking “pain numbing injections” just to stay on the ice for the Capitals, possibly because of the low hit he took from Nazem Kadri in the first round.
Ovechkin has played in the World Championships an amazing twelve times over his career, and has always been willing to suit up for his country on the international stage. Dmitry Orlov and Evgeny Kuznetsov will join Team Russia for the tournament. The pair are both restricted free agents this summer, and will be a big part of the introspective offseason Washington has ahead of them.
- Henrik Lundqvist will also be attending the tournament to play for Sweden, who desperately need his help. The team is currently going with a duo of Viktor Fasth and Eddie Lack in net, a clear weakness on their otherwise impressive squad. With defenders like Victor Hedman, Jonas Brodin and Oliver Ekman-Larsson in front of him, Lundqvist should help the Swedes become a medal favorite if they weren’t already. He’ll also be joining brother Joel on the team, who is captaining this group.
- According to Paul Gackle of the Mercury News, the San Jose Sharks are getting close to new contracts with restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. The pair represent two of the Sharks’ biggest tasks for the offseason, along with decisions on Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Donskoi and Karlsson both didn’t perform up to the lofty expectations they had after their early success in the league, with just 17 and 22 points respectively. It will be interesting to see where they both land salary wise, as the Sharks have Brent Burns’ extension kicking in along with upcoming deals for Martin Jones, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Tomas Hertl to contend with next summer.
- Richard Panik apparently was surprised by the Chicago Blackhawks’ first contract offer, and didn’t need to negotiate according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. That offer was the two-year, $5.6M deal he signed earlier today, which will see the team keep a 20-goal man for under $3MM. Panik knows that playing with Jonathan Toews is likely the best scenario he’ll find anywhere in the league, but that he could earn a much bigger contract in two years when he hits unrestricted free agency. He’ll hit the open market at just 28, and if he has three 40-50 point seasons under his belt people will be lining up to hand him a long-term deal.