With the Capitals set to begin their quest to repeat as Stanley Cup champions on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes, General Manager and Vice President of Hockey Operations Brian MacLellan met with the media to discuss a myriad of topics, including the loss of Michal Kempny to injury, the potential of re-signing Carl Hagelin, ex-Capital (and current Hurricanes’ captain Justin Williams, and more.
When MacLellan last met with the media, it was shortly after the conclusion of the 2019 Trade Deadline, at which he acquired forward Carl Hagelin and defenseman Nick Jensen to bolster the Caps’ roster. When asked about whether Hagelin was a player the team would be interested in re-signing (he is a pending Unrestricted Free Agent), MacLellan responded by saying, “We’ll deal with that after the playoffs. You know I like the fit but we’ll see where his representatives are at”.
MacLellan was asked about former Capitals right wing Justin Williams, who played two seasons (2015-16 and 2016-17) with the Caps before signing a two-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes in free agency in 2017, with whom he currently serves as captain. MacLellan had high praise for the veteran, who brought an invaluable amount of experience to the Caps’ locker room upon his arrival:
“He’s a great teammate, he has the right blend of leadership, have fun, compete…he provided us with that leadership and he’s doing the same thing in Carolina now and he’s just a great guy to have on your team”
MacLellan was asked about the possibility of recalling right wing Devante Smith-Pelly from the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, after a breakout performance in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs that aided the Caps in their run to the franchise’s first championship. While he did not rule it out, he also noted that the Caps have players currently on the roster who are deserving of playing time as well:
MacLellan on if DSP will be called up:
“I’m not sure. We have guys here that have played well here. We played really well down the stretch. We’re not anxious to make changes, but we’re open to whatever it takes. If we need Devante, he’s played well down there and we’ll use him.”
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 8, 2019
MacLellan also addressed the loss of Top 4 defenseman Michal Kempny to a hamstring injury shortly before the conclusion of the regular season, saying that it “hurts to lose him”. MacLellan was also asked about the progression of right wing Tom Wilson’s game this season, complimenting the oft-criticized (by those outside Washington) power forward on an “outstanding year” (one in which he recorded a career-high 22 goals and 40 points in 63 games played).
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 8, 2019