ARLINGTON, Va. -- With the acquisition of defenseman Brenden Dillon on Tuesday, the Capitals likely made their big trade deadline splash already. Given their cap space, another major move seems unlikely. But that does not necessarily mean general manager Brian MacLellan is done before Monday's deadline just yet.
"We're going to pursue anything that we think can make us better," MacLellan said Wednesday. "We'll continue to talk to teams. We've had conversations as we've had with the defense and we'll keep doing it and see if we can make our team better."
OK, so pretty much every general manager says that. What does it actually mean for the Caps?
While MacLellan said he would pursue anything that would make the team better, it does not appear that any other moves on defense are on the table.
Right defense has been a weakness for the team all season and the acquisition of Dillon does not seem to directly address that. The hope for Washington seems to be that the trickle-down effect of adding another defenseman to the top four will ultimately solve the team's defensive woes.
When asked if he was looking to add another defenseman, MacLellan answered no.
“We have seven [defensemen]," MacLellan said. "We’ve got Fehervary. We’ve got a couple guys in the minors we think we can use. I think we’re good depth-wise now."
Instead of defense, if there is another trade the focus would be to bolster the team's offensive depth.
The fourth line found early success this season, but the trio of Brendan Leipsic, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway has only one goal in the year 2020. The offensive production from that line has dried up.
While MacLellan was firm about his satisfaction with the defensive personnel, he seemed more open to finding help on offense.
"We’ll look at it," he said of adding to the fourth line. "I think overall they’ve played well. I would anticipate the production will come. They do the right things. They work hard, they forecheck, they play physical. The production might not have been as good as it was at the beginning of the year, but I think it will come.”
If MacLellan were to look to add, there is only a small amount of cap space to work with.
Cap Friendly estimates Washington having only about $1.077 million of cap space to work with at the deadline. With teams having the ability to retain 50-percent of a player's cap hit in a trade, at most Washington could add a player with a cap hit of just over $2.15 million. That's not insignificant, especially for a fourth-line player, but it does limit the team's options if MacLellan does pursue another addition.
"I’d love to have a lot more [cap space]," MacLellan said. "I’d love to have a $4 million player. No, we have a little bit left, so we can try to get creative around that.”
One way in which MacLellan does not intend to get creative, however, is with his goaltending.
With Braden Holtby on the final year of his contract and with rookie Ilya Samsonov playing so well in his first NHL season, many have wondered if that could lead to Holtby ending up on the trade block in an attempt to free cap space to make a bigger addition.
MacLellan, however, is much more interested in keeping Holtby for the playoff run and definitively put an end to all talk of a possible Holtby trade before the deadline.
"I think our story's been the same the whole year, that [Holtby's] our guy and we're going to try to compete for a Cup," MacLellan said. "I think we want him at the top of his game at the end of the year."
The Caps may not yet be done tinkering with their roster before Monday's deadline, but if you're expecting any major moves, any additions to the defense or a goalie trade, those options just are not on the table unless someone really surprises MacLellan with an offer he can't walk away from.
"Sometimes calls come in and are unexpected and bring up things," he said. "It's tough to say this is what we're going to do, but we're going to be open to whatever conversations we have."
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