By Ian Oland
General manager Brian MacLellan spoke to media on Friday after the Washington Capitals signed two unrestricted free agents, Henrik Lundqvist and Justin Schultz, and saw longtime starter Braden Holtby leave for Vancouver.
During Mac’s chat with the press, he revealed that Lundqvist will get an opportunity to start and that he’s not automatically the backup. He also spoke about the acquisition of Schultz and where he thinks the right-handed defenseman fits in the lineup.
GM Brian MacLellan talks with the media about 2020 Free Agency#ALLCAPS | @GEICO pic.twitter.com/FtxecNVmEN
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 9, 2020
The transcript below has been edited so questions appear in a logical order.
Why did you sign Henrik Lundqvist?
Brian MacLellan: I think Henrik’s experience, his resume, his leadership ability, his desire to win, I think a lot of things were attractive to bring him in. I think he has a big presence. I think the biggest thing his desire is to win a championship. I think it’s a big deal for our organization and for him. I think it’s a good match overall.
Do you see Henrik Lundqvist strictly as a backup?
Brian MacLellan: I don’t see it as that. I see it as we have a good young goalie and we have a great experienced goalie. Our goal as a team and as an organization is to win games this year and compete for a championship. I would expect him to come in and compete as hard as he can. Coaches will make decisions based on how guys are playing, us winning games, and what’s best for our team.
Do you have an update on Ilya Samsonov and his injury rehab?
Brian MacLellan: His progression has been good. Close to 100 percent so we feel good about that. It has been trending in the right way for a long time. We’re optimistic that he’ll be ready to start the season.
How do you see your defense pairings shaping up with Justin Schultz? Would he be a second pairing guy?
Brian MacLellan: I think so. We’ve got flexibility. Talking to Peter, we could try him both with Dillon and Orly. We’ve got some flexibility now. We really like his offensive potential. His ability join the rush. His ability to quarterback a power play. I think Peter’s teams activate defense aggressively. So we were trying to find a guy that fit that bill for him.
Did you have any final conversations with Braden Holtby before he left the organization?
Brian MacLellan: No. A couple during the year. It wasn’t a final conversation. We talked to his representative just at the beginning of free agency just to get a sense of where they were at and what they were thinking.
Is the team going to make any more moves?
Brian MacLellan: It could go a couple different ways or it could stay the way it is. We’ll keep exploring. If something makes sense for us, we’ll continue to pursue it.
What would you be looking for?
Brian MacLellan: I don’t know. We can tinker with forward groups. I think we’ve just monitored it to see if there’s a bargain on a really good player. Someone falls our way that’s a really good fit, we’ll pursue it.
Where do things stand with restricted-free agent Jonas Siegenthaler?
Brian MacLellan: We’re talking to his agent. We have some time. We’ll work it out in the end. We’re happy with the way he’s progressed and we want to continue developing him in our organization.
What was the decision behind non-tendering Travis Boyd? And could he be re-signed?
Brian MacLellan: It’s possible (we could circle back to re-signing him). Sometimes that number gets too high at the bottom of the lineup. We wanted flexibility and we can continue to pursue him or anyone else in that category that suits a salary need for us.
Free agency took off to a slow start. What were the conversations like among other GMs and agents? Will there be a second wave in the coming days here?
Brian MacLellan: I don’t know if they’re cautious. I think there are some big names out there. You saw some teams clear some cap space. I’m assuming it’s pretty competitive on those big names. You still have a couple teams trying to clear cap space by trading players. I think once the bigger names go down, it’ll loosen up or slow down after that. It’s still going pretty hard right now.
Is there any update on your negotiations with Alex Ovechkin?
Brian MacLellan: No, we tabled it to training camp next year.
Screenshot courtesy of the @Capitals
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