With the trade deadline a little over a month away, Brian MacLellan says he’s still evaluating what path the Capitals should take.
He told CSN’s Al Koken on Tuesday’s game broadcast that the Caps’ health between now and March 1 will impact his decision making.
MacLellan also indicated that he’s comfortable with the organization's depth, particularly up front.
“I'm not sure yet,” MacLellan said, asked by Koken if he's inclined to make any moves. “It’s going to depend on our health going into the deadline.”
MacLellan added: “We’ve had a chance to see [prospects Jakub] Vrana and [Zach] Sanford, so we know we have some depth there. And there are a couple of other guys that have played well in Hershey that we could possibly use.”
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Vrana and Sanford have played 12 and 20 games for the Caps this season. Both rookies are currently in Hershey.
Other Bears forwards who have seen ice time in Washington this season include Liam O’Brien, Paul Carey and Chandler Stephenson. Stephenson made his season debut with the Caps during Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat in Ottawa, the team’s first loss by more than a goal in 54 days (dating to a 3-0 loss to the Islanders on Dec. 1).
At last year's deadline, MacLellan added a couple of depth players to a roster that eventually claimed the Presidents’ Trophy, dealing for winger Daniel Winnik and defenseman Mike Weber, who cost the Caps a third round draft pick in 2017 and ended up appearing in only 10 regular season games and two postseason contests.
This year, though, MacLellan hinted that he’s happier with his group.
“Fairly similar,” he said, asked to compare this year’s roster to last year’s. “Maybe we’re a little deeper this year. I like what our third line has done this year. I like what our fourth line has done. Maybe our penalty killing is a little bit better. Our power play hasn’t produced at the rate it did last year, but I think we’re generating chances. And we haven’t relied on it, which is a positive sign.”
All that said, it doesn’t mean MacLellan will stand pat. A good executive never tips his hand and, although the Caps have been mostly healthy this season, a lot can happen over the next four-plus weeks.
But we already know this much: Washington has stayed under the 23-man maximum quite often this season in an effort to bank as much cap space as possible.
“We’ll explore everything,” MacLellan added, “but I’m more comfortable with our depth than I have been the past two years.”
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