Ovechkin for MVP?

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

Pat Quinn just can't shed this guy.

Less than a week after watching Alexander Ovechkin jam a dagger into the hearts of Canadian hockey fans by scoring the winning goal in Russia's 2-0 elimination of Team Canada, Quinn likely will have to deal with the super rookie again tonight.

Washington Capitals officials are hopeful that a jammed wrist will not keep Ovechkin out of the lineup against Quinn's Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

Ovechkin was scheduled to join the Caps last night after arriving from the Olympics. He will be examined this morning before a final decision is made.

"Knowing him the way I do, it would have to be pretty serious to keep him out of the lineup,"Caps coach Glen Hanlon said.

Ovechkin's dominating play at the Olympics has left the hockey world buzzing about the 20-year-old goal-scoring machine.

Already the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, Ovechkin's name is being mentioned for the Hart as the league's MVP. Some observers in Turin were even calling him the world's best player.

While the kid has his entire career to prove his fans right, the Caps lowly record could negatively effect his hunt for the Hart.

"He's a candidate but our standing doesn't help his cause," Hanlon said. "I can say this though. I haven't seen many guys more enthusiastic for the game."

Ovechkin's love of hockey has spread throughout the Capitals dressing room. In fact, it could lead some free agents to lean toward Washington this summer, lured by the prospect of playing with such a skilled player.

"We'll find out in the future if that happens," Caps general manager George McPhee said. "But having Alex here did have some impact on Olaf Kolzig wanting to stay."

Buoyed by the opportunity to keep playing with Ovechkin, Kolzig inked a two-year, $10.9 million US deal earlier this month.

Meanwhile, McPhee reiterated that veteran defenceman Brendan Witt will be dealt by March 9. The frontrunners are believed to be the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators, although Witt is aware the Leafs have been mentioned too.

"I've heard Toronto all year through the media," Witt said. "But either way, I don't have a choice in the matter."

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THE DEAL WITH ... ALEXANDER OVECHKIN

Where Alexander The Great ranks in league stats:

Goals: Fourth (36)

Power-play goals: Sixth (15)

Points: Eighth (69)

Power-play points: Ninth (32)

Shots: First (283)

Shootout game deciding goals: Second (3)


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