Capitals

Quick Links

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

After another second round playoff exit, just about everyone has an opinion on what direction he Caps should take this offseason. The one opinion that matters more than any other, however, is the man in charge of making those decisions, general manager Brian MacLellan. And, well, it doesn't sound as if he has quite made up his mind yet.

“I don't know that I have conclusions,” MacLellan told reporters Tuesday in his end of season availability. “I spent a lot of time interviewing players and coaches and then I talked to [team president Dick Patrick] and [owner Ted Leonsis] a lot. I don't have any obvious conclusions or specific issues to address. There's some internal stuff that we probably need to address to make things better going forward. … For me, for trying to address issues or problems that we might have, I don't know that any one  thing stood out to be able to say, 'This is the one thing that we need to fix right now to get to that next level.'”

Without something clear to fix, that makes the process of putting a team together for next season more difficult.

RELATED: MacLellan says no deal is imminent with Oshie

But while MacLellan was not sure exactly what needed fixing, he did say he was not expecting to blow up the roster or make any major changes.

“I think it’s tough to make a major change…I think it’s a lot easier to make this team worse than it is better,” MacLellan said. “If you make a major change, what’s it going to involve? Trading a franchise player, blowing the whole thing up? I don’t know that that makes sense.”

For a team that has won the Presidents’ Trophy in each of the last two seasons, you can understand why he would be reluctant to make such sweeping changes. Yet, Washington has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs since 1998. After a two-year self-imposed championship window in which the team ultimately has nothing to show for it, changes still need to be made.

MacLellan indicated that most changes would be internal rather than major roster changes, but even if he is loath to shake things up, he did acknowledge that the choice was not entirely up to him. The Caps were right up against the salary cap this past season and with restricted free agents Philipp Grubauer, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky all in need of new deals, the Caps may be forced to watch unrestricted free agents T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Daniel Winnik and Kevin Shattenkirk leave for new teams.

“It’s going to be hard to bring all the free agents back,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to be getting younger, our prospects are developing and they’re going to take a bigger role. It’s just going to be a different feel to it.”

Ultimately what that will mean is that the Caps will take a step back in the upcoming season. The roster in 2016-17 was just too good and too expensive to replicate for another year. But just how big of a step back will that be?

“I don't know we'll be at this level,” MacLellan said referring to this season’s roster. “I mean, we'll be competitive. … I think we're going to be a good team still.”

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan, Trotz take different view on Caps' postseason history

Quick Links

Can Tom Wilson be an X-factor for Caps after finding redemption in Game 3?

Can Tom Wilson be an X-factor for Caps after finding redemption in Game 3?

When Mike Babcock essentially dismissed any concern over the impact Tom Wilson could have on a series, Wilson responded. In the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017, the Caps' forward scored the overtime winner in Game 1 and saved the series in Game 3 with a sweep of the puck off the goal line followed by a goal of his own soon after.

If you dismissed Wilson after Game 1 and Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Barry Trotz believes you can expect a similar answer this year after how he played in Game 3.

"I think his game was really good and that will maybe give some trust and confidence in him going forward," Trotz said Wednesday on a conference call with the media.

Wilson's impact in the first round against Toronto was immediate. As a top-line winger this season, expectations for him were high heading into the playoffs. His start to the series, however, left a lot to be desired.

Through the first two games, Wilson did not record a single shot on goal. What's worse, he took a critical penalty in each game that allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the score on each resulting power play.

You can't compare Wilson's impact on the Caps to that of a player like Alex Ovechkin, but a top-line player has to have some sort of positive impact or, at the very least, not be a detriment to his team.

In Game 3, postseason Tom finally delivered.

Wilson recorded six shots on goal and scored Washington's first goal of the game, deflecting in a shot from Matt Niskanen.

"[Wilson's] taken a lot of criticism for his first two games and some of the penalties and the effect it's had on the game," Trotz said. "I think it's given him some confidence. He's a bright young man, he's a leader, he's an all-in guy."

The key now will be for Wilson to build on that confidence.

Columbus has a number of star players such as Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky. What they do not have, however, is the scoring depth to match the Caps. Getting key contributions from players like Wilson in addition to the top playmakers like Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov will make it very hard for the Blue Jackets to keep up.

"[Wilson] had a big effect last year in the first round," Trotz said. "I think he can have a big effect in this series, in this first round."

RELATED LINKS: 

Quick Links

Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

With a thrilling double-overtime victory in Game 3, the Capitals are right back in the series. Trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1, the Caps will look to even up the series at 2-games apiece before returning to Washington for Game 5.

As the Caps take the ice for Game 4, you can be certain that Braden Holtby will be the man to lead the team in net. His stellar performance in Game 3 resolidified him as the team' starter and ended whatever goalie tandem there was between him and Philipp Grubauer.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 4

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Columbus currently leads the series 2-1.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE