Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan met with the media on Saturday during the team’s final day of Development Camp.
MacLellan spoke about the Friday trade that sent Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche and the Swede’s trade request. “[Andre] wants to play higher (in the lineup), he deserves an opportunity to play higher to show it, but still. We have an organization, we have a team, we put a lot into developing him,” MacLellan said.
To fill the void of Burakovsky and the likely departure of Brett Connolly, the Capitals will turn to free agency for a proven forward.
“Obviously, we need a third-line right wing,” MacLellan said. “For sure, we are pursuing all the fits we see for a third-line right wing in free agency… We’ll see if we can find a guy at the right salary level there that provides us with a good two-way game, and if we don’t, then we’ll move on from that.”
Brett Connolly, the Capitals’ third-line right wing last season, scored a career-high 22 goals and 46 points in the final year of a two-year, $3 million deal. The 27-year-old forward is likely to get a contract offer the Capitals will be unable to match.
“We talked to his representatives,” MacLellan said. “He’s still exploring his opportunities. I think maybe at some point he’s probably going to get priced out of our range. It appears to be headed that way.”
The Capitals could have interest in many unrestricted free agents on the market on July 1 including Marcus Johansson, Corey Perry, Ryan Dzingel, Micheal Ferland, Joonas Donskoi, Brandon Tanev, Wayne Simmonds, and Richard Panik, but it will all come down to who they can afford under the salary cap.
“It’s always tight,” MacLellan said. “Every year we’ve been pushing it to the max and we’re going to do it again this year too. There’s going to be some tough decisions made at the end but I think we’ll be fine.”
During his chat with reporters, MacLellan also said that the team would not bring back Dmitrij Jaskin and he chose his words carefully when asked if there was interest to re-signing Devante Smith-Pelly. “I haven’t talked to him recently,” MacLellan said before pointing out that “I talked to him at the beginning of free agency.”
With the salary cap ($81.5 million) $1.5 million less than projected earlier in the year, MacLellan is resigned to offering Jakub Vrana a bridge contract instead of a longer team deal. V scored a career-high 24 goals last season in the final year of his entry-level deal.
“Originally, we thought we could do a term deal because we had an ($83 million) number that we used all year,” MacLellan said. “We bumped that down to $82.5 and then that last little bump down kind of squeezed us a little bit.”
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