Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan addressed reporters this morning via conference call to talk about all of the recent moves he has made. Some notable ones included locking up Evgeny Kuznetsov for the long term and trading Marcus Johansson. He also talked about what’s next as far as signing priorities for his team.
“I think we’re fairly comfortable. We’ll see how it goes here. (Andre) Burakovsky and (Philipp) Grubauer would be our next guys that are priorities for us to sign and that’s what we’ll do next,” said MacLellan.
After the Capitals signed Kuznetsov to an eight-year, $64.5 million deal, that left the Capitals with just $4.6 million left to try to sign both players mentioned. Then MacLellan traded Johansson to the New Jersey Devils for second and third round draft picks in 2018. That move gave the Capitals a little bit more wiggle room. According to Cap Friendly, the Capitals now have a cap space of $8,589,893.
Like NoVa Caps writer Michael Fleetwood pointed out, this issue, along with others, gives the fans more question marks. MacLellan probably didn’t anticipate having to re-sign Grubauer, but the expansion draft caught him and others off guard. Despite that, GMBM said that it’ll be good having two good goaltenders and two young defensemen.
“I think having two good goalies will allow us to have two young defensemen. There’s gonna be some mistakes initially and we’ll rely on our goaltending to get them through it,” said MacLellan.
For Burakovsky, GMBM likes his potential especially after he was moved to the third line late in the playoffs when the Capitals were trying to come back from a 3-1 hole against the Penguins.
“If I look at our lineup, I think Burakovsky is gonna play a bigger role. I liked Burakovsky, Backstrom, Oshie last year. They had a couple of really good games and looked good together,” said MacLellan.
There is also no doubt there are going to be a couple of Hershey Bear standouts on the Capitals roster next season. MacLellan mentioned some names that he thinks will.
“Both (Nathan) Walker and (Chandler) Stephenson have killed penalties and have done a good job at the American (Hockey) League level,” MacLellan said. “We’ll give one or both of those guys an opportunity to see what they can do.”
It’s been an interesting 48-hours so far in this silly season. We’ll see what happens next and if MacLellan is able to sign Burkie and Gruby. Come training camp, lineup battles will take place and we’ll see Walker and Stephenson’s potential firsthand.
By Michael Marzzacco