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Ted Leonsis provides his thoughts on the Caps and the trade deadline

Ted Leonsis provides his thoughts on the Caps and the trade deadline

Ted Leonsis says he’s comfortable with the composition of the NHL-leading Capitals as the trade deadline approaches, but the veteran owner added that he’ll leave the decision to make a trade (or not) up to management.

“We’ve told Barry and Mac it’s totally their call,” Leonsis said prior to Wednesday’s game against Boston, referring to Head Coach Barry Trotz and General Manager Brian MacLellan. “If they want to add to the team, they are free to do that. If they want to stand pat, they are free to do that.”

The deadline is March 1.  

Although Leonsis says he’ll leave the decision up to Trotz and MacLellan, that doesn’t mean he’s without an opinion. He said he detects something special in the team’s chemistry this season and that he doesn’t see any glaring holes in the lineup.

“There does seem to be something very special in the chemistry of the team, so I know they’ll think long and hard about making a trade,” Leonsis said. “They [also] feel good that the young kids are now starting to hit their stride. [Evgeny Kuznetsov], two months ago, people were asking if he was in some sort of a slump. And now he’s just named player of the month.

“So,” Leonsis added, “we have a pretty good team, from goaltending to defense to our forwards. And so they’ll think long and hard about, do they make a trade and where do we have to improve? But there doesn’t seem to be a glaring need right now.”

Leonsis's comments are in line with what MacLellan told CSN last week when the general manager said, “We’ll explore everything, but I’m more comfortable with our depth than I have been the past two years.”

Entering the game against Boston, the Caps sat atop the league standings with 72 points—one clear of the Wild. Since the calendar flipped to 2017, in fact, Washington has accumulated more standings points (25), more wins (12) and scored more goals (65) than any other team.

“The strategy is pretty much set,” Leonsis said. “We want to have a good mix of youth and vets, which I think we do. We wanted to have great goaltending, and I think we have one of the better, if not the best, goaltending tandem in the NHL right now. So I’m happy for them. I’m proud of them. And they’ll do what they think is best.”

Asked if he planned to give any additional advice to Trotz and MacLellan as the deadline gets closer, Leonsis said he intends to stay out of it. Well, mostly.

“My advice is they are empowered,” Leonsis said. “And I believe in [Trotz and Mac]. And obviously the team has performed very, very well so they know what they’re doing. And since they know what they’re doing, how could I add value? And there’s a hard cap system in place so it’s not like I need it greenlight budget. I’ve said you can spend up to the cap.”

“Obviously,” he added with a chuckle, “if they’re going to trade one of our core players, they would run it by me—I hope— beforehand.”

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Alex Ovechkin teaching his son hockey might be the most adorable thing ever

Alex Ovechkin teaching his son hockey might be the most adorable thing ever

The Capitals had an off day on Sunday ahead of their Monday matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, giving the opportunity for Alex Ovechkin to spend some time with his son.

Sergei and his dad came across a baby hockey stick and Ovechkin decided to teach his son a few moves.

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Backstrom's back: Caps will get their top center back for Monday's game

Backstrom's back: Caps will get their top center back for Monday's game

ARLINGTON, Va -- The Capitals are riding a six-game win streak and already have the most points in the NHL and now they will be adding one of their best players back into the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom said Sunday after practice that he is "ready to go" for Monday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be his first game since Nov. 18.

An upper-body injury forced Backstrom out of the lineup for the last eight games. Despite returning to practice during the team's road trip through California, he did not get into a game as the team preached caution with its star center. As the team returned home, Backstrom took line rushes on Sunday and both he and head coach Todd Reirden confirmed he would be back in for Monday's game.

"It was good to see him out there in full practice," Reirden said. "Did some drills specifically to help prepare him for tomorrow. He's good to go for tomorrow."

Backstrom said he knew when he woke up on Sunday that he was ready.

"As of today I'm good to go," he said. "I woke up and felt good. It's like that guy in 'Mighty Ducks,' I woke up, no pain."

It does not appear as if Backstrom will be eased back into the lineup as he skated on the top line in practice alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson. Evgeny Kuznetsov had been playing in that spot, but the top line had grown stagnant. Ovechkin, Wilson and Kuznetsov combined for only one even-strength point in the past three games.

Barring something unexpected, the return of Backstrom should give the Caps their full lineup for the first time all season. Considering what the team has been able to accomplish thus far while having to shuffle the lineup because of injuries and suspensions, this has been an impressive start.

"I think that shows the depth that we have all the way through our lineup: forward, defenseman and our goaltending has been strong," Reirden said. "I think it's a clear understanding that it's a competitive situation that we've had since training camp that players are ready to take advantage of their opportunities that they get and they know that they need to otherwise there's a chance they could find themselves on the outside. The inner-competition we've had has probably helped push that a little bit. That's been a good problem to have, and it's allowed us to see some other players get opportunities and showcase some of the abilities they have."

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