Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan: “We’ll Get Younger But We’re Still Going To Have A Veteran Team. That’s Our Core.”

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told the media during his end-of-season media availability on Wednesday that “We’ll get younger [over the offseason] but we’re still going to have a veteran team. That’s our core.” The team had the oldest roster in the NHL this season with an average age of 28.95 years old.

MacLellan said that “I think [that] we have some guys coming that we could consider.” He mentioned that he liked the season 24-year-old forward Daniel Sprong had and wants to give him more ice time next season. 21-year-old defenseman Martin Fehervary “I think is ready,” according to MacLellan. He also wants to get 21-year-old defenseman Alexander Alexeyev in some games but acknowledged that he is not a full-time player “yet.”

He thought that top prospect and center Connor McMichael “finished the season well” with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. “I think it’s going to be how his offseason goes, what improvements he makes,” he said on whether the 20-year-old will be in the Capitals’ opening night lineup in October. Though, he acknowledged “We’re not going to force [him] into the lineup” but thought that McMichael finished the season “very high, improved in all areas. … We’re going to look for opportunities to play him but we’re not going to force him into a situation he can’t handle.”

With three left-handed defensemen on the NHL roster (Dmitry Orlov, Brenden Dillon, Michal Kempny) next season, MacLellan told the media that “Maybe we’ll make room [for Fehervary]. I think [he’s] ready to be a full-time player. How high he plays in the lineup will be up to him but we’re counting on him to play right away and we’ll make adjustments after that.” No decisions are coming now regarding how they will make room for him but they will decide around the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken on July 23.

On the Capitals’ lack of center depth, MacLellan believes that “it has to come from a young guy like McMichael or an entry-level guy to give you a few games. … You need to slot them right to win a Cup.” He thought the Boston Bruins won the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series because they were deep at center but Capitals were thin.

MacLellan said that 44-year-old defenseman Zdeno Chara is “uncertain” regarding his future. “I thought he played great with us, he was a solid addition, and the third pair of him and Jensen was solid,” he mentioned, adding that he will talk to Chara, who is left-handed.

After three consecutive first-round exits in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, MacLellan expressed that “I don’t think we’re at the stage where we need to rebuild,” with captain Alex Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom still around. “I think it’s important to have [Ovechkin] and [Backstrom] finish their careers here. The rebuild will be a little bit premature but I do realize that it’s coming. I think right now we’re looking to incorporate a few more younger players in our lineup and we feel we have a couple coming,” he said.

“We’re right there with Boston, New York, and Pittsburgh. We think they’re pretty similar teams. … We’re in that group the way we’re constructed right now,” MacLellan explained. He thought that the Bruins pulled ahead of the group after the trade deadline.

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: “We’ll Get Younger But We’re Still Going To Have A Veteran Team. That’s Our Core.”

  1. emudd says:

    And that’s why I like GMBM. He has a good handle on the situation. Yes, get younger, we need that injection, but that doesn’t mean we need to blow anything up. This season and playoffs was a worst case scenario for the Caps. Compressed schedule, rash of injuries in the last 2 weeks (could be related?), too much ice time for the guys who were playing (including those coming back from injury) because of being 1, 2 or 3 guys short at times and game after game, first to start the playoffs so less break to recover…… After the 3rd game our guys just didn’t have the legs and it was obvious.Add in so much in and out of the lineup because of injuries and no one was really clicking, and Boston to their credit made sure they didn’t let up and give us the chance to get going. Even Kuzy who I know is unpopular now, I could see the effort, just not the results. I mean Kuzy was back checking, and he never back checks. Kuzy was in front of the net to take the goalie interference (obviously you wish he hadn’t), but he’s NEVER in front of the net. The guy was trying but it wasn’t there be it Covid for a second time, timing from being out, whatever, he could get on track offensively and that was true of a lot of our guys. Rask was really good, but we were hitting him in the crest or missing the net entirely when they weren’t blocking shots. Have to give them credit for taking our bad situation coming in and making us feel every bit of it by not giving an inch.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Good points, Ernie. I am wondering how an elongated season with more games spread over an extra 6-8 weeks will differ from this abbreviated/compressed schedule. They will play 26 more games over the extra time. Will they be more rested, more banged up, or will it be a wash? I agree with Mac the injuries occurred at the wrong time, and his point about other teams having their injuries at the beginning of the season and their “Covid breaks” midway helped them in the end. But age certainly factored in this season.

      • Anonymous says:

        A longer season wouldn’t matter as long as this team is right up against the salary cap. They had zero room to bring in replacements. How many games did they play with 11 forwards beacause of it? This team needs to be at least $10M under the cap to have the necessary flexibility to deal with injuries.

        I also think far too much hay is being made about them being the oldest team in the league. Next season Anderson, Lundquist and most likely Chara will be off the payroll and the Caps won’t be the oldest team in the league anymore.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with everything you are saying here but would still hope GMBM hears the offers for Kuzy out there to get a sense of what we could get. Would have to include a pretty good center imo, because McMichael is still at least 1 year away I think.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree, at minimum he has let the league know he is taking calls on Kuzy. If he gets the right deal I think he pulls the trigger.

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