Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan made a rare appearance in front of the media on Thursday to discuss all the happenings of the team from injuries to the NHL Draft.
The most interesting part of the discussion came when Mac took questions on the team’s philosophy on moves this summer and beyond. The Capitals have a glut of middle and bottom six forwards that are free agents including Jakub Vrana, Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, and Devante Smith-Pelly. Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom are also unrestricted free agents the summer of 2021 and can begin negotiations on a new deal as soon as July 1.
We wrote about how the Capitals would like to bring back Andre Burakovsky, but are listening to offers. Here’s what MacLellan had to say on the others.
On Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby who are UFAs in 2021.
GMBM: “Obviously, they’re both a big part of the team and a big part of what we’ve accomplished so far. As the summer goes on, we’ll talk to both of those guys about the future and how we see it playing out.”
On contract negotiations with restricted free agent, Jakub Vrana:
GMBM: “We’re in contact with his agent. We’ve had a few conversations with him. We’re continuing to talk to him as we go forward. We’re going to play it out here. We’re going to see where the cap is and see what our roster decisions are and make a decision with Jakub and his agent.”
On trying to bring back Brett Connolly:
GMBM: “I think it was just a good fit team wise and for him, and he took advantage of it. He played well.
“It could be (difficult to bring him back due to the salary cap). We’re in conversations with his agent also. I think it depends on how the league views him and what kind of contract offers and what kind of role he’s going to be presented with. I think he’s earned the right to listen to all the teams and to see where they fit with opportunity and financially. We’re going to talk to him and see where that ends up for him and try to make a decision based on that.”
On Devante Smith-Pelly and Brooks Orpik, who are both unrestricted free agents:
GMBM: “We’ve talked to both their agents also. We’re going to wait until the interview period here and continue to converse with them going forward. See where our other opportunities are and try to make a good decision based on that.”
On bringing back Carl Hagelin and his four-year deal:
GMBM: “I liked the fit. I like his experience. I like what he brings to our team on the penalty kill. I like that he has speed. I liked pretty much everything about it. I think we needed a first PK guy. Our PK improved when he got there. He’s a player that drives the play five-on-five. So, those were all factors that went into it. He fits real well with his teammates here. I think with us having to trade Niskanen, Orpik might not come back, I think we needed the leadership that he brings to the table. I mean he’s won a couple Cups, he knows what it takes. There’s a lot of positives and again, the fit was perfect for us. So, we thought it was a priority that we would sign him.”
On acquiring Radko Gudas:
GMBM: “We like Radko. He’s a competitive guy. We feel he’s a good defensive defenseman. We liked him on the penalty kill, he brings a physical element to our team that we feel we need. He’s a high-character guy, a good guy in the room, so we’re excited to have him on our team.”
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