Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract, the team announced Tuesday, a deal that will keep him with the team through the 2025-26 season. Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September, had repeatedly expressed his desire to stay with the only NHL team with which he has played, and Washington’s management conveyed the same. The franchise cornerstone is set to begin his 17th NHL season in October. Ovechkin’s new contract came 13 years after his blockbuster $124 million deal — the first $100 million deal in NHL history. Ovechkin negotiated his new deal without an agent, speaking directly with owner Ted Leonsis and general manager Brian MacLellan. Washington now has all three of its longest-tenured players — Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom, and defenseman John Carlson — under contract through at least the 2024-25 season. Ovechkin jumped two spots on the NHL’s all-time goals list, moving to sixth (730) and passing Mike Gartner and Phil Esposito.
Vegas sends Fleury to Chicago
Marc-Andre Fleury was traded from Vegas to Chicago, a stunning turn of events that has the NHL’s reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender contemplating his future. The Golden Knights traded Fleury for minor league forward Mikael Hakkarainen in a salary dump. Fleury is set to count $7 million against the cap next season, the final year of his contract — and that’s if he reports at all. Agent Allan Walsh tweeted, “Marc-Andre will be taking time to discuss his situation with his family and seriously evaluate his hockey future at this time.” Fleury, 36, did not have Chicago on his 10-team no-trade list but did not want to be traded at all. It’s the first time in 20 years the reigning Vezina winner was traded before the next season. Buffalo traded Dominik Hasek to Detroit on the first day of free agency in 2001 . . . The Blackhawks completed another trade late Tuesday, acquiring forward Tyler Johnson and a 2023 second-round pick from the salary cap-strapped Lightning. Tampa Bay acquired defenseman Brent Seabrook, who will spend the remaining three years of his contract on long-term injured reserve. The 35-year-old Seabrook in March announced he is ending his 15-year career — but not retiring — because of a hip injury that led to him missing all of last season. The Lightning freed up the three years left of Johnson’s salary — a $5 million annual salary-cap hit — and will be allowed to exceed the cap by $6.875 million each year with Seabrook on LTIR . . . The Blues agreed to terms with winger Pavel Buchnevich on a $23.4 million, four-year deal . . . Vancouver put Braden Holtby and San Jose put Martin Jones on unconditional waivers for the purposes of buying out the remainder of the goalies’ contracts. Edmonton also began the buyout process with winger James Neal, and Winnipeg acquired defenseman Nate Schmidt from Vancouver for a 2022 third-round pick.
Play-in tourney to return in 2022
The NBA’s play-in tournament is back for at least one more season. As expected, the league’s board of governors gave approval to the plan that would bring it back next season with the same format: the teams that finish seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th in each conference will play to determine the No. 7 and No. 8 playoff seeds. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had said on multiple occasions that he expected the play-in to return . . . The Memphis Grizzlies agreed to trade center Jonas Valanciunas to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, and a swap of multiple draft choices, a person familiar with the situation said. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because no trade can become official until Aug. 6. The trade sends New Orleans’s 10th and 40th overall draft choices to Memphis for the Grizzlies’ 17th and 51st overall picks this year. Memphis also will receive a protected 2022 first-round choice from New Orleans. The deal comes on the heels of New Orleans’ decision to hire Willie Green, their third head coach in three seasons, as the franchise faces mounting pressure to inspire confidence in star forward Zion Williamson after missing the playoffs his first two NBA campaigns
Texas, Oklahoma make SEC intentions official
Texas and Oklahoma announced that they have formally asked the Southeastern Conference to be considered for membership starting on July 1, 2025, after their current media rights deals with the Big 12 expire. The letter is the first official acknowledgment that Texas and Oklahoma wish to depart the Big 12 specifically for the SEC. It comes one day after the two college sports powerhouses announced that they will not be renewing their grant of rights agreement with the Big 12 after it expires in 2025, in effect signaling their intention to depart the conference. In a separate statement Tuesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey acknowledged the request by Texas and Oklahoma . . . Manchester United defender Alex Telles is expected to miss the start of the Premier League season due to an ankle injury, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said . . . New Zealand Rugby confirmed the All Blacks will play the United States at FedEx Field outside Washington D.C. in October. The All Blacks will meet the US Eagles on Oct. 23 to play for the new 1874 Cup. The trophy references the year of the first rugby match played in the United States, between McGill and Harvard University. New Zealand last played the United States in 2014 when it won, 74-6, at Soldier Field in Chicago. The United States is bidding to host the 2027 or 2031 men’s Rugby World Cup or the 2029 women’s Rugby World Cup . . . The Double A series opener between New Hampshire and Portland at Hadlock Field was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Wednesday . . . Worcester’s Triple A game against visiting Buffalo was washed out. The teams will play a single game Wednesday and a doubleheader Thursday.