Photo: Andrew Harnik, The Washington Times
To say the free agency signing period escalated quickly on July 1st would be an understatement. The first hour was filled with lengthy contracts and huge sums of money. Some of them were well deserved; some were highly questionable. While other teams were toiling away signing first line centers and potential starting goaltenders, Washington’s moves may have been underwhelming, but they prove that the organization is only addressing its “must-haves”.
So how did Washington win the affectionately dubbed “silly season”? GM Brian MacLellan kept it very simple:
- He addressed the team’s immediate needs.
While MacLellan may be sweating it out trying to find ways to re-sign RFA’s Marcus Johansson and Dmitry Orlov under the $73 million salary cap, he has stated that he wanted a speedier, younger forward core. He accomplished all of those goals by signing center Lars Eller at the draft, letting Jason Chimera walk, and signing wingers Christian Thomas and Brett Connolly to short term deals. This also allows for a few prospects, such as Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber, and Nathan Walker, to get a shot at making the team if any of these contracts don’t work in the Caps’ favor.
- He didn’t over spend for what he needed.
Depth players are crucial to any team’s success, but overpaying them is ludicrous. Think about the Matt Martin deal in Toronto, the Casey Cizikas deal in New York, or even our past deal with Brooks Laich. Teams mostly claim that they offer these contracts to protect these players from other teams who would swoop in and offer more. But these deals unnecessarily inflate the value these players provide. I loved what Brooks Laich was able to contribute to the Caps, but paying $4.5 million for a player who got mostly fourth line minutes towards the end of his tenure wasn’t helping a cash-strapped team. GMBM’s deals with the depth players acquired (except for possibly the Tom Wilson contract) were short and fairly non-expensive.
- He didn’t trade away his marquee players. (No, seriously).
The first and only rule of being a good GM is this: find out who the bad GM’s are, and constantly call them. When the news broke that P.K. Subban was traded in a one-for-one deal for Shea Weber, I checked the Capitals roster to make sure we still had Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. This may seem like a silly exercise, but that trade is proof that there are some people who probably should not be managing a team. MacLellan knows that players like Ovechkin and Backstrom are one of a kind, and has molded the team around them instead of around a coach or a certain system. He didn’t panic and make a decision that would impact the team for maybe a decade. GMBM stayed sane and let the other GM’s make crazy decisions.
Here’s to moving on to Day 2 of the free agency fiasco. In GMBM we trust.
By Julia Karron