Capitals

Quick Links

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

After another second round playoff exit, just about everyone has an opinion on what direction he Caps should take this offseason. The one opinion that matters more than any other, however, is the man in charge of making those decisions, general manager Brian MacLellan. And, well, it doesn't sound as if he has quite made up his mind yet.

“I don't know that I have conclusions,” MacLellan told reporters Tuesday in his end of season availability. “I spent a lot of time interviewing players and coaches and then I talked to [team president Dick Patrick] and [owner Ted Leonsis] a lot. I don't have any obvious conclusions or specific issues to address. There's some internal stuff that we probably need to address to make things better going forward. … For me, for trying to address issues or problems that we might have, I don't know that any one  thing stood out to be able to say, 'This is the one thing that we need to fix right now to get to that next level.'”

Without something clear to fix, that makes the process of putting a team together for next season more difficult.

RELATED: MacLellan says no deal is imminent with Oshie

But while MacLellan was not sure exactly what needed fixing, he did say he was not expecting to blow up the roster or make any major changes.

“I think it’s tough to make a major change…I think it’s a lot easier to make this team worse than it is better,” MacLellan said. “If you make a major change, what’s it going to involve? Trading a franchise player, blowing the whole thing up? I don’t know that that makes sense.”

For a team that has won the Presidents’ Trophy in each of the last two seasons, you can understand why he would be reluctant to make such sweeping changes. Yet, Washington has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs since 1998. After a two-year self-imposed championship window in which the team ultimately has nothing to show for it, changes still need to be made.

MacLellan indicated that most changes would be internal rather than major roster changes, but even if he is loath to shake things up, he did acknowledge that the choice was not entirely up to him. The Caps were right up against the salary cap this past season and with restricted free agents Philipp Grubauer, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky all in need of new deals, the Caps may be forced to watch unrestricted free agents T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Daniel Winnik and Kevin Shattenkirk leave for new teams.

“It’s going to be hard to bring all the free agents back,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to be getting younger, our prospects are developing and they’re going to take a bigger role. It’s just going to be a different feel to it.”

Ultimately what that will mean is that the Caps will take a step back in the upcoming season. The roster in 2016-17 was just too good and too expensive to replicate for another year. But just how big of a step back will that be?

“I don't know we'll be at this level,” MacLellan said referring to this season’s roster. “I mean, we'll be competitive. … I think we're going to be a good team still.”

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan, Trotz take different view on Caps' postseason history

Quick Links

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: