Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan sat down with a handful of media members at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday and discussed a wide variety of topics surrounding the Capitals, who own the NHL’s best record (44-11-4) through 59 games with four days remaining before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
In Part Four of our five-part transcription, MacLellan discusses the expectations he and others have on the Capitals leading into the playoffs, the difference Barry Trotz has had since coming to Washington and his thoughts on some of the Caps' prospects in Hershey:
On if he has begun contract talks with Jason Chimera:
No, we haven’t.
On how heightened Stanley Cup expectations have affected the Capitals:
Hopefully we have expectations internally, from ownership to management to coaches to players. I mean, I hear the players talk. They expect to be there at the end. And that’s the way it should be I think.
On the gratification of how much progress the Caps have made in the two years since he was hired (from a non-playoff team to a Presidents’ Trophy favorite):
Yeah, the changes have been huge, where we’ve come from. I mean, I think there’s a lot of things that went on, from ownership to personnel decisions to coaching that have created an environment that’s helped produce where we’re at. … I don’t think you give anybody total (credit). I mean, it’s a shared success through the whole organization. I think scouts have done a good job, ownership’s been good, Barry and the coaches, the assistant coaches have done a good (job), there’s a lot of things that went into a pretty quick turnaround, so I don’t think it’s one individual. I don’t think it’s just coaching. I don’t think it’s just management. I think it’s everything.
On how the Caps’ top prospects are faring in Hershey:
They’re all progressing. (Jakub) Vrana’s doing well, (Riley) Barber and (Travis) Boyd have done really well, (Chandler) Stephenson we like, (Madison) Bowie’s coming. We’re excited to see (Jonas) Siegenthaler maybe here at the end (of the AHL season). There’s a lot of positives going on in Hershey. These guys are all getting better. Some of them might need another year, but the trend is up for all of them.
On whether the Caps might take a look at any of their prospects with a late-season call-up:
I don’t think so, unless injuries or circumstance dictates it. But, you know, (Zach) Sill has come up and done a good job. We’d probably use him, and then we’ll see what (else). One of my goals here (before the trade deadline) is maybe we find a guy that can go up and down (between the NHL and AHL) at the end.
On if there have been discussions about resting players leading into the playoffs:
We haven’t really discussed it. Hockey I think is a little different in that there’s a rhythm to the season. Like the snowstorm there, when we had too many days off, and then we had the All-Star break, too many days off, we got out of rhythm. And I still think we’re recovering from it. I think it’s dangerous to start taking time off for everybody, but if there’s minor injuries that normally guys would play with, I think that would change that, especially when we’re adding depth guys. I mean, we’re going to have eight defensemen; if there’s situations where he’s not 100 percent, well, you know, let’s use our depth here. That’s part of the idea of having eight defensemen down the stretch. We have a tough schedule where we’re playing a lot of games in (a limited) number of days. The more bodies and the less stress you can put on your top four (defensemen) the better. It would be more like that than we’re going to completely sit out for two days, because I think guys need a rhythm. They need to keep playing.