Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Discusses Free Agency, Andre Burakovsky Trade With The Media


Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan met with the media at MedStar Capitals Iceplex to discuss free agency and the trade that sent forward Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche after the team’s annual development camp wrapped up on Saturday. Here are some of the highlights from his press conference:

MacLellan told the media that Burakovsky was frustrated with his role last season as he mainly and that he “viewed it as stale.” Burakovsky wanted a top-six role somewhere and to play more. He had “quite a number of discussions” with Burakovsky’s representatives and they expressed frustration in the role he was playing last season. MacLellan said that he wouldn’t have traded Burakovsky had the right trade not come. He said that he likes Burakovsky as a person and that it was a “tough trade to make at the deadline because we wanted as much depth as we could…. We weren’t going to get picks for him at the deadline.” MacLellan said that he had discussions with other teams regarding Burakovsky at the NHL Draft last weekend.

To fill the hole vacated by Burakovsky’s departure, MacLellan said that the Capitals are “pursuing all of the options,” including trades, free agency, and the American Hockey League. He acknowledged that the cap space freed up after trading Burakovsky and defenseman Matt Niskanen helps in free agency, the initial spot where he will look to find a replacement. MacLellan said that he’s looking for a two-way forward at right price.

MacLellan said that pending unrestricted free agent and forward Brett Connolly is “still exploring his opportunities” and that it looks like the team won’t be able to afford him. He acknowledges that “tough decisions will be made at the end.”

In addition to finding a replacement, MacLellan added that fixing fourth-line is a priority after the line combined for just one goal, which came on a penalty shot, in the team’s first-round exit against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He expressed his disappointment in the performance from bottom-six performance during the playoffs.

MacLellan told the media that the Capitals have been “active” during the free agency interview period, talking to unrestricted free agents and monitoring everything from salary to what the players that they are looking at are thinking.

MacLellan said that he has not talked to forward and pending unrestricted free agent Devante Smith-Pelly lately, indicating that the 27-year old will not return to Washington for the upcoming season.

The Capitals will not pursue defensive depth at the moment and will give the young defensemen, such as Christian Djoos, Jonas Seigenthaler, and Tyler Lewington, shots next season, MacLellan said.

Regarding contract negotiations with pending restricted free agent on forward Jakub Vrana, who was third on the Capitals with 24 goals last season, MacLellan told the media that the there’s a “tricky balance you have to get through” and that “negotiations go slow” because teams have more time to sign restricted free agents than unrestricted ones. He is expecting Vrana to sign a bridge deal. MacLellan said that he wanted to sign Vrana long-term deal before the salary cap dropped from an initial projection of $83 million to $81.5 million.

MacLellan concluded his interview by saying that forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who was not qualified by the Capitals prior to Tuesday’s 5:00 PM ET deadline to qualify restricted free agents, will not return for the 2019-20 season. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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5 Responses to Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Discusses Free Agency, Andre Burakovsky Trade With The Media

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Is this interview available anywhere? I can’t find it in the Usual Suspects Caps’ websites

  2. Day One Caps Fan says:

    And while we’re at it … Did MacLellan have ANYTHING to say about his coaching staff?

  3. hockeydruid says:

    I dont know why they signed Haglin as he has produced nothing the past 3 years to deserve that contract. If they signed him to use in the expansion draft that is silly. As for DSP let him go and see who wants him. Need to resign Connolly to get some scoring on the 3rd line. And yes the 4th line needs lots of work. Maybe its time to give Riley a shot. And the coaching staff needs work as no one there impresses.

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