Making the Right Moves: Brian MacLellan Works His Management Magic Yet Again

Brian+MacLellan+Washington+Capitals+v+New+lY9-ExyrFcTlBruce Bennett/Getty Images

In his four seasons as General Manager of the Capitals, Brian MacLellan has proved himself to be smart, calculating, and pretty darn effective at getting deals done, whether it be a contract or trade. And the franchise’s first Stanley Cup win a few weeks ago is evidence of such moves. Entering the offseason, MacLellan faced challenges when it came to the team’s salary cap space, pending free agents, and most recently, a search for a new Head Coach. However, the transactions MacLellan has made in the last 24 hours have proven yet again, that he knows exactly how to push the right buttons.

Facing limited salary cap space prior to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, MacLellan dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer (a pending Restricted free agent with a cap hit of $1.5 million) and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik (cap hit of $5.5 million) to the Colorado Avalanche in a move that freed up roughly $7 million of cap space for the Capitals, allowing them more room to work with in negotiations with their pending free agents, particularly pending Unrestricted free agent defenseman John Carlson; and per MacLellan himself, those negotiations may be over soon (in a good way of course).

Per MacLellan, via The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Capitals and Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, are close in contract discussions and the hope is that a deal will be done within the next 24 hours. Expected to command a salary of $8 million or more, Carlson was/is expected to be the top free agent blueliner if he hits the open market on July 1. Essentially, MacLellan traded Grubauer and Orpik to free cap space (in addition to a second-round pick) and (if/when the deal gets done) John Carlson. However, MacLellan did not rule out the possibility of bringing Orpik (a valuable member of the team’s blueline the past four seasons and one of the team’s key leaders) if the Avalanche bought out his contract, something that has already happened. The Capitals would be able to bring the veteran rearguard back on a much cheaper deal than his previous one, and if all goes well, will also re-sign pending UFA defenseman Michal Kempny, meaning the team would be bringing back their entire Top 4 defensemen from their Stanley Cup run (Carlson, Kempny, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov), as well as the team’s bottom-pairing in Christian Djoos and Orpik (if he is brought back).

All of this culminates in a masterful management job by MacLellan, who still has an entire offseason of work to get through. While nothing in terms of contracts have been completed, the Capitals’ offseason to-do list may be much more manageable than it was even just a few days ago. In addition to the pending arrival of free agency in just a few days, MacLellan and the team’s front office drafted what will hopefully be key contributors in the future. including first-round pick Alexander Alexeyev. Above all else, MacLellan has worked his magic yet again and has gotten the Caps’ offseasons off to a promising start.

By Michael Fleetwood


About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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7 Responses to Making the Right Moves: Brian MacLellan Works His Management Magic Yet Again

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  2. DayOne Caps Fanatic says:

    Many high-ranking sports executives have that snarly, arrogant “I’m brilliant and you are not” mentality that is so familiar in North America to those of us who have toiled in the corporate workplace. GMBM’s predecessor had “that attitude” in great abundance. So do the owners and GM’s in most of the other major sports in DC/Balto area. GMBM is just a hair more humble. It goes a long way. One can root for such a man, much more than the exec who continually must “signal” his superiority to mere taxpayers or ticket buyers. The talent level is about the same among such gentlemen, whether arse-whole or nice-guy, but it’s amazing how far a bit of honey goes compared to a dropper-full of vinegar. I enjoy the press interviews with “Mac”, treats folks quite well. The previous gent, I always detected “Geez, another idiot asking me another idiotic question.”

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