Five years ago today the Washington Capitals selected Alexander Ovechkin with the first overall pick in the 2004 Entry Draft in Raleigh. Draftgeeks at the time knew well that hockey in Washington would be forever changed — but as much as it has in these past five years, well, probably not.
It’s worth taking a perusal back at the scouting sentiment of Ovi for that fortuitous moment. This is what Red Line Report had to say about the Moscow dynamo:
Alexandre Ovechkin — Dynamo LW
Simply the best player on the planet not already playing in the NHL. Just call him Kovalchuk, only with a great work ethic and a much better attitude. Terrific all-around player is as complete a prospect as we’ve seen in last 10 years. Explosive and dynamic every shift, and just has so many ways to beat you. Tremendous talent level is equalled only by his character and maturity. Intimidating speed forces defenders to back in off blue line, allowing him to gain zone easily. Not only has skill level off the charts, but hits hard and has dedication to defence. Dynamic, game breaking natural goal scorer with rocket shot and fabulous moves he makes at top end speed. Puck follows him like a magnet. Able to get hard shots off with checkers draped all over him. A dangerous, disruptive force who must be accounted for at all times. What’s left to say? Not as flashy and charismatic as Kovalchuk, but just as good a player, and is humble with no ego problem. Great teammate. Projection: Dominant, world class star player. Style compares to: Jarome Iginla
Now that’s good scouting!
Perhaps just as interesting is the assessment of Ovechkin made by two important members of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ organization a year earlier. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline on June 29, 2003, just days after the Pens made Marc-Andre Fleury the first overall pick of the 2003 Entry Draft, included the observation ‘Just Wait Until Next Year.’
“Oh, man, he’s really good,” Fleury told the Post-Gazette, shaking his head. “He does
everything. He shoots, passes, hits, backchecks . . . just everything.”
“Everything that you’ve heard about him . . . he’s all that and probably more,” said Mark Kelley, the Penguins’ European scout. “He is special, just special.”
Kelley wants no part of any comparisons between Ovechkin and any
prospect drafted in the two decades before the time Ovechkin will be
taken. Not even Eric Lindros of 1991.
“No way,” Kelley said. “Lindros was as good a prospect as you could
want in terms of size and talent, but he never had the passion for the
game that Ovechkin has. Not even close.”