Capitals first-year general manager Brian MacLellan met with reporters for close to 30 minutes on Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. In Part Four of his state of the team, he gives his thoughts on his first year as general manager, what he expects from Brooks Laich and whether signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to lucrative contracts was worth the risk.
On picking 22nd overall in this year’s NHL draft and the Caps’ ability to find players in the bottom 10 of the first round like John Carlson [27th in 2008], Marcus Johansson [24th in 2009], Evgeny Kuznetsov [26th in 2010] and Andre Burakovsky [23rd in 2013]:
A good amateur staff. [Assistant general manager] Ross Mahoney and [amateur scout] Steve Bowman and their staff have done a good job. They find players late in the first round that have turned into good players. Ross has been doing it for a long time and he’s been successful at it. You’ve got to give him credit for all those guys.
On how his first year as general manager of the Caps has gone:
Has it been a year? It’s been a whirlwind, it’s flown by, warp speed. It’s been fun. (pause). Sorry. It’s satisfying to see where we’ve come to the end of the year. To see the guys at the end of the Islanders series, it’s good. There’s a sense of accomplishment. There are a lot of things. To see where the players have come, how much fun they have. It’s fun to watch. I don’t know about vindication. It’s satisfying. There’s an empty feeling after the New York series, there’s a hole to fill there, but I feel we’re on the right path.
On if he anticipates any buyouts:
I don’t, but you never know.
On the NHL salary cap:
I think there’s a little but of insecurity there. The league says we’re going to be somewhere between $70 and $71 million. I think most of our projections are planned on that, but down deep you’re a little insecure it might come in lower so you hope it doesn’t, but we’ll plan to leave it a little bit of room in case it does.
On Brooks Laich, who has two years and $8 million remaining on his contract, with a $4.5 million cap hit:
I don’t know if there is an answer. I don’t think he’s happy with the year he had. I had a year-end meeting with him and we want the two-way Brooks Laich playing. Contributing offensively, scoring goals, making playing, and the defensive part. I think he did a good job on the PK and the defensive role, but I think we need more out of him to be a successful team.
On last summer’s free-agent signings of defensemen Brooks Orpik [5 years, $27.5 million] and Matt Niskanen [7 years, $40.25 million]:
I think they’ve added a lot to our organization both on and off the ice. Most of the ext interviews, guys commented on that right away, what they’ve brought in both dimensions. So I’m happy. I didn’t want to pay that much money, either. But it’s UFA season. It was a risk but so far it’s worked out.
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