In a conference call with reporters previewing tonight’s NHL draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., [6:30 p.m., NBCSN] Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan addressed a variety of subjects, including the Caps’ strategy regarding trades, free agency and the desire to add the pieces that could bring a long-awaited Stanley Cup to Washington.
We’ve condensed the conversation into topic-specific categories. In Part Two, MacLellan addresses the Caps’ strategy heading into tonight’s draft and the possibility of trading the Caps’ first-round selection, 22nd overall:
On the possibility of trading the Capitals’ first-round pick:
I’d be open. Right now I’d say it’s more than likely we’re making the pick. To give up that pick you’d have to have a pretty good impact player coming back – a player we feel would have an impact on our team and get us to the next level.
On the possibility of trading goaltender Justin Peters, who is on a one-way contract and appears to be ticketed for the AHL Hershey Bears with the recent signing of Philipp Grubauer to an NHL contract:
I think we’re going to let it play out. I think everybody is comfortable with what Grubi did when he was called up. Peters had a difficult situation that he played through. We’ll see how we start at camp, how everybody’s doing, and we’ll make our decision based on that.
On filling the void at top-line right wing through a trade or free agency:
We’re exploring both options. The UFA market, there’s a few possibilities. Like always, there are names that are possibilities that work in that spot We’re making calls every day and monitoring the market and trying to see if we could fill that spot and do it in a good way, without giving up too much.
… Depending on the quality of player, we’re trying to establish what we can do [in a trade] value-wise and what makes sense for us money-wise and pick-wise and value-wise, and see if we can find a match with someone that’s willing to trade a guy we like.”
On if he feels, with the way the Capitals are currently constructed, time is of the essence to make a deal for the present:
I do. We’ve got a window and we need to make decisions that are more present oriented than looking to the future. But you can’t sacrifice the future because we’ve got a lot of good young players also.
On the amount of trade activity he expects leading up to and during tonight’s draft:
Teams are constantly talking. There are a few names out there. Whether they happen or don’t happen I’m not sure. There are guys calling around trying to establish a market for players and what [teams are] willing to pay. It’s a process that goes on every draft.
On whether he would trade a late-round pick for the rights to a pending unrestricted free agent:
On whether he would trade the rights to one of the Caps’ pending free agents [Mike Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr] for another team’s draft pick:
I don’t think we’re at that point to do that. It might happen as we get closer to the draft but at this time I would not consider that.
On the quality of player the Caps may find if they hold onto their first-round pick at No. 22:
We’ve gone over it the last few days. Our amateur staff have a couple guys they’ve identified at approximately our level that we might have a shot at. There are two or three players that are really good players who have some good upside. We have to let the draft play out, but I think there’s some good players that will be available at our spot at 22.
On the need for taking a defenseman in the first round, something the Caps have not done since drafting John Carlson 27th overall in 2008:
The philosophy is going to be to draft the best player available, that has the most upside. We’ll continue with that, whether it’s a defenseman, a center or a winger. We’re not going to draft by position only. We’re going to be looking for a guy that we think can play at a high level. … If it has to take him three or four years and he’s going to be the better player in three or four years, it’s a projection game. The one that has the highest potential in our minds would be the one we pick.
MORE CAPITALS: PART ONE OF MACLELLAN DISCUSSION