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Caps GM Brian MacLellan gives early thoughts on the trade deadline

Caps GM Brian MacLellan gives early thoughts on the trade deadline

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.”

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin wrestles Senators forward to the ice by his head

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In a sport in which silence is the norm, Braden Holtby continues to be a voice for change

In a sport in which silence is the norm, Braden Holtby continues to be a voice for change

The phrase "stick to sports" is one often uttered by angry fans who don't want politics to bleed into their past time, who want sports to remain an escape from every day life. No sport has taken those words to heart in recent years more so than hockey where players very rarely come out and discuss political or social topics. Braden Holtby, however, has been a notable exception.

With the country locked in political unrest after the senseless murder of George Floyd, Holtby tweeted out an impassioned statement on Wednesday with his thoughts.

"I don't think this time is a time to sugarcoat anything," Holtby said Friday in a video conference. "I think it's a time to look at ourselves in the mirror and really find how we can be better and how we can take responsibility for the past and learn from that to move forward."

Holtby has been an outspoken advocate for human rights, particularly those of the LGBTQ community, for several years. Many hockey players have been outspoken in the wake of the protests currently gripping the country representing a shocking shift from the norm of silence we typically see in hockey from such issues.

Holtby, however, has never been shy about giving his thoughts.

"I don’t know why it’s been kind of taboo to speak your mind or stand up for what you believe in," Holtby said. "Obviously, there’s always this divide from sports to social issues. You want to be educated, you want to make sure that you know what you’re talking about [and] you’re not just using your platform to try and be popular or something like that."


Quick reactions on social media are easy and often without substance. Holtby, however, who professed that he actually dislikes social media and does not like to use it all that much, stressed the need for everyone, including himself, to educate themselves on the important issues facing the country before and in addition to speaking out.

"It wasn't until I moved here that you really understand what racial injustice is in this country," Holtby said, who is originally from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. "In Canada, we have indigenous rights and racism that way. I grew up around that, but this is different so I needed to educate myself and still need to. I believe how my parents did the right thing in teaching us in our situation. I learned a lot from them and Brandi as well and now we're just trying to take our knowledge we've learned in a different culture and try to teach our kids that way."


But not everyone is open to hearing Holtby's thoughts on the matter.

When you speak out on these types of issues, you are bound to get plenty of backlash. Holtby has gotten such reaction from many who have decided that because he is a professional hockey player, he is for some reason no longer entitled to have a voice. There are also those who do not want to hear the opinion of a Canadian on America despite the fact that Holtby has been living in America since 2009.

"I think we all have our professions," Holtby said. "Everyone does. I don't know if any of us have -- unless your job is to fight racial inequalities or any sort of social issues that way, we're all just trying to be humans. And we just happen to have a following based on our job where people see us and it's easier to see us. It's crazy to think that that's an argument. We play hockey on the ice. We live our lives just as humans off of the ice and try to do our part that way. The second part about the Canadian thing is I've lived here for over 10 years now, so we call this home. This is my kids' home. My kids are both American. I feel like I'm fortunate to have been in both countries and be a part of both countries. I've said this a long (time): Canada follows America in a lot of ways. If you go from Canada to America, you don't see a ton of difference. The northern part of the states are very similar to Canada, and I believe when you try to make changes in one [it affects the other]."

But when the issues are important enough, it's easy to tune out the naysayers.

"I'm just trying to learn how I can do my part and my family's part to help people out," Holtby said. "I'm really hoping and I really believe that this is going to change the world in a lot of ways."

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Watch Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei work on his slap shot

Watch Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei work on his slap shot

The future looks bright for the Capitals with Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei as an up-and-coming star.

Ovechkin’s wife Nastya captured an adorable moment on her Instagram story Thursday afternoon when Sergei practiced his shot and found the back of his miniature net on six consecutive attempts – just like his father would.

Nastya praised her 1-year-old, saying “Bravo!” after every goal scored, before he celebrated in classic Ovechkin fashion.


While Ovi's eldest son has been occupied with his new role as a big brother as of late, he makes sure to leave plenty time to work on his slap shot and practice his celly, too, of course.

It looks like the young star is already on track to catch his father at 700 and make his debut in the 2038 NHL season.