Washington Capitals\' Alex Ovechkin, of Russia, celebrates after they defeated the Florida Panthers 3-1 in a NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 5, 2008, in Washington. Ovechkin was full of firsts this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nick Wass
The book closed on the NHL's 2007-08 regular season Sunday and Alexander Ovechkin fills the pages from cover to back.
"He's a one-of-a-kind young man," Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis told The Canadian Press on Sunday.
A 65-goal, 112-point season produced a couple of firsts for the 22-year-old Ovechkin - the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top point-getter and the Rocket Richard Trophy as top goal scorer. He will pick up that hardware in June and possibly two other big-time honours - the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Lester B. Pearson Award as most outstanding player as determined by his playing colleagues in the NHL Players' Association.
"It was interesting to see Alex last night," Leonsis said of his team's playoff-clinching win over Florida. "Here's a guy who could win all four major awards and he signed the biggest contract in the history of the league. He gave me this big, giant hug after the game and he said, 'I'm so happy for our team, I'm so happy for our team. We're going to the playoffs, it's been my dream.'
"So you have to love the kid. There's no discussion at all about the personal accomplishments."
But it is those very same personal accomplishments that propelled the Caps into the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association decide the Hart Trophy and there was debate whether a non-playoff player should win it. That debate is history now.
"I don't see how Alex doesn't get MVP and I don't see how our coach (Bruce Boudreau) isn't coach of the year," said Leonsis.
Ovechkin was the first player to cap the 60-goal plateau since Mario Lemieux (69) and Jaromir Jagr (62) both turned the trick in 1995-96. Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers, with 52, and Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who got his 50th Saturday night in Vancouver, joined Ovechkin over the 50-goal plateau - one more 50-goal scorer than last season when only Dany Heatley and Vincent Lecavalier made it.
Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin were the only NHLers reach the 100-point plateau, down dramatically from the seven players who achieved it last season. Blame that in part to significant injuries to the likes of Heatley, Joe Sakic and Sidney Crosby this season.
The Detroit Red Wings captured the President's Trophy as the NHL's No. 1 team in the overall standings after going 54-21-7 for 115 points - capping their wire-to-wire performance with a 4-1 win over Chicago on Sunday. Nicklas Lidstrom put the finishing touches on what surely will be a sixth Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman, the Red Wings star scoring a pair of goals Sunday to give him a 70-point season (10-60).
He led all NHL blue-liners in scoring and also led them with a ridiculous plus-40 rating. The Norris isn't where it should stop for Lidstrom said his GM Ken Holland.
"I think he deserves the Hart," Holland told The Canadian Press. "He led defencemen in the league in plus-minus, led all defencemen in scoring, we have great special teams, we're No. 1 in the overall standings, we're No. 1 in goals against and he plays top minutes against the top players from the other team every single night.
"He does it all I believe he's the most valuable player in the NHL this season."
What about the rookie of the year? Blackhawks centre Patrick Kane scored his 21st goal of the season Sunday to cap an impressive rookie campaign, his 72 points leading all first-year players. Washington's Nicklas Backstrom was second with 69 points (14-55) and will battle Kane for the Calder Trophy along with Blackhawks winger Jonathan Toews, Peter Mueller of the Phoenix Coyotes, Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers and goalie Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks led all NHL goalies with 46 wins - three more than New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.
As Holland mentioned above, the Wings allowed the fewest goals to also capture the Jennings Trophy. At the other end of the spectrum, the Ottawa Senators led all NHL teams with 258 goals scored, one more than Montreal. The Habs for the second season in a row had the NHL's most potent power play at 24.2 per cent. To put it into context, Montreal's 90 power-play goals were almost half of the entire goal production from the New York Islanders, who were last in the NHL with 189 total goals.