Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan sat down with a handful of media members at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday and discussed a wide variety of topics surrounding the Capitals, who own the NHL’s best record (44-11-4) through 59 games with four days remaining before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
In Part Two of our five-part transcription, MacLellan discusses past trades the Capitals have made and how the outcomes of those trades have provided a framework heading into Monday’s NHL trade deadline:
On lessons learned from last year’s deadline acquisitions of defenseman Tim Gleason and forward Curtis Glencross:
I think we did the same with Gleason as (Mike) Weber here. I still believe that’s what we wanted to have for the playoffs again and I think Glencross...I thought it was a good idea at the time, because I wasn’t sold on (Evgeny) Kuznetsov and (Andre) Burakovsky, where they were development-wise. We needed a guy to help. Given what was in the market, we tried a couple of guys higher but the cost was too high so we went down to the next level. That’s going to happen again this year. We probably overpaid a little (second- and third-round draft picks) to get (Glencross).
On the number of teams willing to move players and picks this time of year:
I think teams making a (playoff) push put pressure on themselves to accomplish something. You get caught up in it during the deadline. I think they want to show their team they’re adding, they want to show the fans something, and more than not there’s not enough players that can have an impact on your team for everybody to accomplish that. You think last year, Chicago added (Antoine) Vermette, paid a first-rounder...they paid a lot for that. L.A. added (Andrej) Sekera for a lot (first-round pick and a prospect). We talked to both those guys during the year. They bucked up and gave the first, plus, and so I guess in the end you say Chicago’s successful because they won and L.A. said, ‘We won’t do that again.’ That’s always the case. If you win and you did something, it’s good. Everybody else, you overpaid.
On deadline deal he is most proud to have been a part of with the Caps:
The (Sergei) Fedorov year (2008). We got (Cristobal) Huet (from the Canadiens for a second-round pick), Fedorov (from Columbus for defenseman Theo Ruth) and Matt Cooke (from Vancouver for forward Matt Pettinger). I thought that was our best. We filled a lot of holes and did it efficiently. I thought it really rounded out our lineup.
On how he views the Capitals’ Stanley Cup window:
I view it as a two-year window. We’re going for it this year, we’re going for it next year and then after that we’re evaluating where we’re at. We’re going to have some decisions to make as far as veteran players and our young guys (Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson, Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt) are going to be due for some pay raises.
On the advantage of addressing roster needs in the offseason as opposed to the trade deadline:
To me, the sooner you can do it, the chemistry develops. It’s always dangerous when you’re bringing a guy in (late) because the chemistry just doesn’t happen. It kind of evolves into something. The team has to grow together. When you’re adding big pieces at the deadline, it’s always a question mark whether it will work or not, chemistry-wise. Unless you have a big hole and I don’t think we have a big hole.
On whether the Caps could be done with trades:
We could be done. We could be.
On if he’s OK with the Caps’ current roster if no deals are made between now and Monday:
On Stan Galiev’s first full season in the NHL:
It’s a tough situation for Stan and for us. He’s been a late developer and he’s a little bit behind but because of the waiver rule, we have trouble getting him ice time in Hershey and getting games up here. We could lose him (through waivers), and I don’t think we’re comfortable with cutting the cord with him yet because we see some potential. In an ideal world we would have like to have him going back and forth (to Hershey) all year.
On the free agent signing of Mike Richards:
I see the progression in his game. He’s added a lot defensively. Faceoffs have been good, PK has been good. I think he’d like a little more offensive production but again, he’s played fourth line for most of it. When he’s played third line, he’s looked good at it. You see more plays, you see more chances. I think it’s good and I have the expectation that he’s going to continue to improve too because he hasn’t played in a long time.
On if he was confident the Canadian courts would rule in Richards’ favor at the time the Capitals signed him:
From my discussions with him, I think it’s a huge relief. I think he feels a weight lifted off his shoulders and I think the last couple games, he’s played like it, too. To be freed up mentally. We talked to his lawyer and representation and obviously we talked to him. The lawyer gave us input on what he thought the direction of the case would go and the possible outcomes, what could happen. We had a good level of comfort that it was going to get dismissed, but it wasn’t 100 percent.
On if he considers Mike Richards a Barry Trotz-type player:
I think (Trotz) loves him. He loves the grittiness, the compete level. I mean, that’s his kind of guy, blue collar, all-you-got. He loves him.