Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spoke from the floor of Bell Center after the 2022 NHL Draft ended.
The biggest news from the Capitals’ two days north of the border was that they dealt Vitek Vanecek to division rival New Jersey for two draft picks. According to Mac, the Capitals had two goals with the trade: 1) get assets for a good young player so it could move on from its inconsistent young goaltending duo and 2) Move up in the second round of the Draft.
With the 37th overall pick that they acquired in the trade, the Capitals selected defenseman Ryan Chesley from the US National Team Development Program.
“Yeah we targeted him,” MacLellan said. “We thought we had to move up to get him because he wouldn’t be around. We incorporated that into the Vanecek trade.”
As for what’s next in goal, there is a lot of unknown. MacLellan told reporters that the Capitals will be in on every discussion involving a goaltender over the next week and the team could be very active in addressing the matter during the first day of free agency. MacLellan did not seem concerned about how much it would cost to land the right guy, admitting that he would have to pay a premium in this goalie market.
MacLellan also told reporters that the team did not prioritize dealing Vanecek over Ilya Samsonov. It’s just how it worked out.
Goaltenders the Capitals could be interested in during the next week include Darcy Kuemper (pending UFA), Jack Campbell (pending UFA), and Jake Allen (trade). Other goaltenders that could possibly become available via the trade route include Cam Talbot and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Here were MacLellan’s full comments about goaltending:
Talk to us about the Vanecek trade:
Brian MacLellan: We’ve been trying to change our goaltending up a little bit. This is the first step in doing that. We still have some work to do to fill out our goaltending duo and we have some further decisions to make moving forward here.
For the goalie market are you looking at the free-agent market or trades?
Brian MacLellan: All of them.
Are you looking to acquire someone who can come in and elevate themselves over Samsonov or is it more along the lines of what you had but different?
Brian MacLellan: We’re open to all avenues. I think the goaltending market is changing as we go here, day by day. You try and stay in things you feel you’re attracted to and there might be a good fit. We’ve got free agency coming up on Wednesday. We’ll be involved in all of the discussions about goalies.
Changing hour by hour
Brian MacLellan: Yeah. Right.
Did you feel like you had to make a move today because the dominos keep falling?
Brian MacLellan: No, we stated from the beginning we needed to make a change there and we did the first step in the process to make a change.
Did you expect the goalie market to be what it is now?
Brian MacLellan: Yeah. If you line it up, and look, and see what teams are thinking, it’s a little chaotic and scrambly. You have to be constantly monitoring it and see what’s happening.
Would you have to clear cap space to add a significant goaltender?
Brian MacLellan: We can add one right now! [laughs]
There’s a lot of teams that are in the goalie market trying to acquire goalies. You put yourself in that.
Brian MacLellan: I jumped into the fire. [laughs] Probably not the smartest thing. [joking]
But that seemed like the plan all along.
Brian MacLellan: Yeah. We want to get in on it and we’ll see where it goes from here.
Is the price high for goaltending given the demand?
Brian MacLellan: I think given the environment I think the price will be high, yes.
Thought about acquiring UFA rights before Wednesday?
Brian MacLellan: We’ve thought about it but we think it is what is right now. You know you just move forward, wait for Wednesday, and see what can happen.
There’s no more (early) window to talk to free agents. Wednesday everybody’s free.
How do things stand with Ilya Samsonov?
Brian MacLellan: He’s a RFA. We haven’t spoken to his representatives yet. But we will here over the next little bit.
Why did you prioritize him over Vanecek?
Brian MacLellan: I didn’t. We were trying to move one of them and we ended up moving Vanecek. It just worked out. Supply and demand.
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