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Report: Ovechkin, Capitals Agree Not To Rebuild Or Make Him ‘ Third-Line Guy’ As He Chases Record

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis told ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski that he and Alex Ovechkin agreed to not to rebuild the team as he chases Wayne Gretzky.



Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is just three goals away from 800 and within double digits of Wayne Gretzky's all-time NHL goals record, but his focus is to also win another Stanley Cup within his contract. So, as he chases No. 99 and looks to remain a contender in D.C., he and owner Ted Leonsis have agreed on plans for the future of the hockey club.

Leonsis told ESPN's Greg Wyshynski that the Capitals will not rebuild while Ovechkin is still on the team and chasing down Gretzky's record.

"I'm sure there'll be an influx of some young players, but we're not going to rebuild the team," Leonsis told Wyshynski. "To me, a rebuild is when you look the players, the coaches, the fans in the eye and say we're gonna be really, really bad. And if we were really, really bad, I don't think Alex would break the record."

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Ovechkin is in the second year of the five-year extension he signed in July 2021. He must average 29 goals per season over the next four years to break the record within the terms of his contract. However, he also wants the team to remain competitive and wants his chance at a second Stanley Cup after leading Washington to its first title back in 2018.

There are going to be a number of free agents at the end of this season, but the Capitals don't plan on completely overhauling and are not going to "trade everyone." They also plan to keep Ovechkin in a top-line role, as Ovechkin wants to go about catching Gretzky in the "right way" with no shortcuts.

"Alex said, 'I'm not going to be a third-line guy playing 8-10 minutes a game [where you] trot me out on the power play and let me score my goals. That's not what I want to do. Promise me you'll keep the team competitive [and] a playoff team.' And he promised to come in shape all the time and not be fixated on the record but be fiated on winning another Stanley Cup." Leonsis added.

Ovechkin is at 797 career goals and needs 98 to pass Gretzky. Right now, the Capitals are three points out of a Wild Card spot, as the team continues to overcome early season struggles and a myriad of injuries. However, there is still a lot of belief in the room, and the team believes it remains a contender.