Ted Leonsis says he’s comfortable with the composition of the NHL-leading Capitals as the trade deadline approaches, but the veteran owner added that he’ll leave the decision to make a trade (or not) up to management.
“We’ve told Barry and Mac it’s totally their call,” Leonsis said prior to Wednesday’s game against Boston, referring to Head Coach Barry Trotz and General Manager Brian MacLellan. “If they want to add to the team, they are free to do that. If they want to stand pat, they are free to do that.”
The deadline is March 1.
Although Leonsis says he’ll leave the decision up to Trotz and MacLellan, that doesn’t mean he’s without an opinion. He said he detects something special in the team’s chemistry this season and that he doesn’t see any glaring holes in the lineup.
“There does seem to be something very special in the chemistry of the team, so I know they’ll think long and hard about making a trade,” Leonsis said. “They [also] feel good that the young kids are now starting to hit their stride. [Evgeny Kuznetsov], two months ago, people were asking if he was in some sort of a slump. And now he’s just named player of the month.”
“So,” Leonsis added, “we have a pretty good team, from goaltending to defense to our forwards. And so they’ll think long and hard about, do they make a trade and where do we have to improve? But there doesn’t seem to be a glaring need right now.”
Leonsis's comments are in line with what MacLellan told CSN last week when the general manager said, “We’ll explore everything, but I’m more comfortable with our depth than I have been the past two years.”
Entering the game against Boston, the Caps sat atop the league standings with 72 points—one clear of the Wild. Since the calendar flipped to 2017, in fact, Washington has accumulated more standings points (25), more wins (12) and scored more goals (65) than any other team.
“The strategy is pretty much set,” Leonsis said. “We want to have a good mix of youth and vets, which I think we do. We wanted to have great goaltending, and I think we have one of the better, if not the best, goaltending tandem in the NHL right now. So I’m happy for them. I’m proud of them. And they’ll do what they think is best.”
Asked if he planned to give any additional advice to Trotz and MacLellan as the deadline gets closer, Leonsis said he intends to stay out of it. Well, mostly.
“My advice is they are empowered,” Leonsis said. “And I believe in [Trotz and Mac]. And obviously the team has performed very, very well so they know what they’re doing. And since they know what they’re doing, how could I add value? And there’s a hard cap system in place so it’s not like I need it greenlight budget. I’ve said you can spend up to the cap.”
“Obviously,” he added with a chuckle, “if they’re going to trade one of our core players, they would run it by me—I hope— beforehand.”
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