General manager Brian MacLellan met with the Capitals media Wednesday morning, nearly 24 hours after making what likely will be his most significant deal before the trade deadline. MacLellan dealt a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional third to the San Jose Sharks for pending unrestricted free agent Brenden Dillon.
MacLellan says the 6-foot-4 Dillon will play with either John Carlson on the top pairing or Dmitry Orlov on the second pair, meaning Michal Kempny or Nick Jensen will bumped down the lineup. MacLellan believed Dillon or another defenseman such as Orlov could play on their off-hand well.
“I think [Kempny and Jensen] have, at times, been good players,” MacLellan said. “I think probably like the rest of our group, it’s been inconsistent. I think that’s the struggle for us is to get some consistency back there. I think now that we have seven (defensemen), you can hold guys a little more accountable. If you’re not playing well, you’re out.”
Dillon will arrive in DC around 4 or 4:30 PM. The team is unsure if he will play Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Here are the rest of MacLellan’s comments about his new defenseman.
Was Brenden Dillon a good fit?
Brian MacLellan: “A lot of things. He’s got playoff experience. Veteran player. Physicality. The ability to play with top-end guys. Good character guy. I think he’ll add a lot of energy in our room and on the ice. Physical presence. Checked a lot of boxes for everything we thought we needed.”
Where do you envision him playing?
Brian MacLellan: “I think we’re going to move him around a little bit. He could play with Carly. He could play with Orly. He’s played with two good guys in San Jose. I anticipate the coaches trying him in both spots and see what works best for us.”
Could he play on the left side with Orly?
Brian MacLellan: “He could. He’s played a little bit on the outside. Orly’s had some experience playing on the outside so there’s a number of different combinations we could try.”
Are you good with two lefties on a pair?
Brian MacLellan: “Yes. Ideally, you want lefty-righty, but that’s not the way the league functions. You could sit here forever waiting for the right right-hand shot guy. I think you gotta make it work. Coaches have to make it work. Players have to make it work.”
If he plays in the top four, that means Kempny and Jensen come out. What have you seen going on with those two players.
Brian MacLellan: “I think they’ve both at times have been good players. I think probably like the rest of our group it’s been inconsistent. I think that’s the struggle for us to get some consistency back there. I think now that we have seven you can hold guys a little more accountable. If you’re not playing well, you’re out.”
How long have you been looking at him?
Brian MacLellan: “Me, personally? Since when he first came into the league. Traverse City! I saw him as a free agent there with Dallas. He was pretty impressive back then, too.”
You have a number of big bodies who are physical. Was the size-factor important?
Brian MacLellan: “Yeah, I think we’re all attracted to size as long as it can play. We like having the bigger bodies and playing a heavier game. He’s a good skater for his size too. He has that physical presence. We’re excited to see how it fits for us.”
What did you think of the cost – two high draft picks?
Brian MacLellan: “I thought it was, you know, what we anticipated. I think San Jose said from the get-go it would be a second and a third and we worked our way up to it.”
Did you do this in response to the team’s troubles or would you have done this regardless?
Brian MacLellan: “Probably regardless because I think it’s a great fit for us. I think his skill set and the group we do have — think one of the things that has been frustrating for me is the play in front of our own net. The compete level in front of our own net – and this is something he brings to the table here. I think he does a great job in front of our net. So I think we addressed that through him.”
How much did Dillon’s playoff experience factor into you getting him?
Brian MacLellan: “A lot. A lot. He’s been in the Final. He’s been on good teams. Similar to us. San Jose and Washington are top teams for a long time and he’s been in that environment. I think it’s a good fit.”
Is your D set now? Would you add another D?
Brian MacLellan: “I think we have 7 and we’ve got Fehervary. We have a couple of guys in the minors we think we could use. I think we’re good depth-wise now.”
When do you expect Dillon to arrive?
Brian MacLellan: “This afternoon. 4. 4:30 PM. Right around there.”
Will he play Thursday against the Canadiens?
Brian MacLellan: “I don’t know. I’ll talk to coaches. Talk to him. See how he feels about it.”
Headline photo courtesy of the @SanJoseSharks
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