Reports of the Capitals' demise have been greatly exaggerated. So says general manager Brian MacLellan.
Washington has undergone a tumultuous offseason that has seen the departure of several key players including Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner, among others. There is no doubt the Capitals are not the same team that ran away with the Presidents' Trophy the past two seasons, but MacLellan wants you to know that doesn't mean the Caps will nosedive next season.
“People make it sound like we’re a lottery team," MacLellan said in an interview with the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga. "I’m shocked by that. We’ve got good players. I want people to know: We’ve got a good team.”
The Capitals have loaded up their roster for several years in the hopes of winning the ever elusive Stanley Cup. But no team can reload forever, especially in the salary cap era. That seems to have caught up to the Caps this offseason.
MacLellan went on to address each of the major moves the team made, or didn't make, over the summer.
- Losing Schmidt: The multiple goalies available in the expansion draft and in free agency made Philipp Grubauer less attractive to Vegas which is why the two teams could not come to an agreement to protect Schmidt. MacLellan also sees defense as an "organizational strength" for Washington with several prospects poised to compete for NHL time. “We like Schmidt,” MacLellan said. “But it’s not as huge a deal as people are making it out to be.”
- Trading Johansson: MacLellan netted what the market dictated he could get for Johansson at that point in the offseason. Trading him earlier in the summer did not make sense because MacLellan would not know whether or not he would need to wait until after the final numbers on the Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie deals were in.
- Signing Oshie for eight years: “The decision becomes: Do we want Oshie or not?” MacLellan said. “I don’t know what the stink is. Oshie, he’s a big part of our culture. He drives the team. We felt it was necessary. People like Williams at 36, but they don’t like Oshie at 36?”
- Signing Kuznetsov for eight years, $62.4 million: “We sat there and said, ‘Kuzy’s 25 years old.’ He’s going to be a No. 1 center. It’s the way the league’s going — speed, youth. We’ve got two good centers [along with Nicklas Backstrom]. We spent forever trying to find the 1-2 punch. How can we not do it?’”
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