Looking back at Capitals GM Brian MacLellan’s first year


(Washington Capitals)

On may 26th of last year, the Washington Capitals announced both the hiring of new Head Coach Barry Trotz, and the promotion of Assistant General Manager Brian MacLellan to Senior Vice President and General Manager.  MacLellan  spent the previous 13 years with the Capitals, serving as a scout, then director of player personnel, and then Assistant General Manager for the seven seasons prior to being promoted to  General Manager.


It can be assume that MacLellan had a big part in the hiring of Trotz, and therefore gets good grades for one of his first moves as GM.  What is not clear is the amount of involvement GMBM had with the hiring of assistant coaches, including the acquisition of Goalie Coach and guru Mitch Korn, who were friends and co-workers at some point with coach Trotz prior to coming to Washington.  It’s also not clear how much of an impact GMBM had in the signing of Defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, both of whom played for Assistant Coach Todd Reirden in Pittsburgh prior to coming to Washington.  The terms of both contracts were steep by anybody’s standards, but it’s too early to judge value at  this point.  Additionally, the signing of backup goalie Justin Peters is also a bit muddied with regards to GMBM’s involvement, considering Mitch Korn’s  knowledge of the goalie world and supposed level of involvement with this transaction. The signing of Peters turned out to be a bust, as the team ultimately turned to Philip Grubauer in the playoffs.  All-in-all, a good start for the organization under GMBM.

The letting go of Mikhail Grabovski can be attributed to GMBM, and should be considered a good move in retrospect, considering salary cap constraints, Grabovski’s contract demands, and this year’s production of Grabovski with the Islanders.

However, GMBM’s move’s prior to the trade deadline were less than stellar, and some could say, were complete flops.  The Capitals traded for Forward Curtis Glenncross on March 1, giving up their second and third round draft picks for 2015 Draft to the Calgary Flames.  Glenncross’ production was initially encouraging, but ultimately fizzled out as the season concluded.  This trade can only be considered a bust, even as a rental, and I’m sure the Capitals would prefer they had their draft picks back.  Additionally, on February 28th the Capitals traded Jack Hillen and the Capitals fourth round pick in the 2015 draft to the Carolina Hurricanes in return for Defenseman Tim Gleason.  Gleason could be considered steady by some, but he really never proved to be an upgrade, or more of a physical force than Hillen.  Again, I’d rather have Hillen and the draft pick back.

GMBM is entering at critical point in the franchise’s history, with a total of 28 restricted and unrestricted free agents.  Next season’s report card will have plenty to go by.  Let’s hope the next three weeks are good ones for the Caps.

What are your thoughts about GMBM’s first year at the helm?

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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