In a conference call with reporters previewing tonight’s NHL draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., [7 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 One, MacLellan addresses negotiations with the Capitals’ restricted [Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson] and unrestricted [Mike Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, Tim Gleason and Curtis Glencross] free agents:
On talks with the Caps’ RFAs:
Negotiations are ongoing right now. I think we’re progressing. They’re a priority for us and hopefully we get them all signed here shortly.
On if he has a good idea how much it will cost to re-sign the Caps’ three RFAs:
I think it’s getting more clear as it gets closer to July 1, an approximate level of their contracts. On my part there’s still a little insecurity where they come in at. We still have to make a few decisions on term and that affects the dollar amount, so it could still change.
On progress with the Caps’ UFAs:
Talks are ongoing. We haven’t changed our strategy in that we need to get Holtby, Kuznetsov and Johansson signed. We’re in contact with our UFAs and we’re going to have to see what the contract demands are in the end for them and what’s going to work for us. We’re trying to balance all of our priorities right now.
On which UFAs are definitely not coming back [the agent for Green and Fehr said they will test free agency, while the agent for Ward said his request for a four-year term has been met with resistance by the Caps]:
It’s hard to tell. We keep talking to people and now there’s a free agent window where they can talk to other teams, so I think they’re going to gauge their role on our team and dollars that can be made in the free agent market and we’re going to be doing the same thing. If we can come to an agreement we will, or we can just keep it going until we can figure out what works best for both parties.
On if he thinks signing one or more of the Caps’ UFAs becomes more difficult once free agency begins on July 1:
No, I don’t. I get the sense there’s not many UFA contracts being signed right now. I’m not sure what’s going on in the market place, but I think a lot of teams are struggling to get their guys signed and I think it’s just what’s going on in the market.
On if the Capitals could circle back and renew talks with any of their UFAs on July 1:
I hope so. Ideally, that would be the way it works, but it’s hard to predict. I’m not comfortable [waiting] but that’s the circumstance we’re in.
On the need to acquire a depth defenseman to add to the top six of John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen, Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov:
We can probably be adding. The level at which we add on the defense side is going to be dependent on the amount of dollars we want to allocate to that spot. If the money [for Holtby, Kuznetsov and Johansson] turns out to be less than we anticipate it will be a lower-end guy. If we have more money to spend on that spot it will be a higher-end guy.
On the possibility of signing Gleason:
Yeah, we talked to him and his representative a few times. It’s not going to be a priority off the top, but we’ll stay in communication with him. He’s a possibility.
On meeting with pending UFAs from other teams [Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Williams, perhaps?] during the current interview period:
We don’t have any scheduled yet. We might have a possibility of one player. It’ll work itself out over the next few days here, whether we need or want to do that.
On whether he believes this interview period is valuable, since it helped the Capitals sign Orpik last summer:
I do, especially given our circumstance. I think meeting the coaches, seeing the practice facility, seeing our setup is a good selling point for our organization. I think it went a long way in getting Orpik.
On the NHL’s new $71.4 million salary cap:
I was a little concerned it would come in a little lower. But I like the number. I don’t know if it helps our situation out a lot, but it’s good it came in at that level.
On if he wants to begin next season with a salary cap cushion:
We’d always like an injury cushion of approximately a million [dollars]. That could change a little bit depending on circumstances, but that’s where we are [philosophically] at the moment.
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