Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan held his final media availability for the 2021-22 season on Sunday. He spoke about the regular season, the postseason, the goaltending situation, injuries and potential upcoming off-season changes.
On The Season
“I think we’re still digesting it. Disappointed. I thought we did a lot of positive things to put ourselves in a position to beat the number one team in the East and maybe even the league. We didn’t get it done. We didn’t finish games. Games 4, 5, 6, probably should have won all of them,” said MacLellan.
“We have a lot of experience, we’re a veteran team. A lot of positives got us in the spot to win games, and we didn’t close them out. So it’s disappointing in that aspect.”
MacLellan said it was “basically mistakes, lack of execution. And I think some of those mistakes were made by some our key guys, too. So it’s frustrating that way.”
On Potential Roster Moves
MacLellan said the team will “explore changes. I don’t think anything is off the table. We’re going to talk to different teams and monitor the trade market. We’re gonna identify free agents. We gotta figure out our goalie situation. We got two RFA (restricted free agents) guys. So we got to make a decision on what to do there.”
“Inconsistent, I think it has been. I don’t think it was the reason we lost the series. I thought Sammy played well. Vitek played good in the first game. Sammy played pretty good. I don’t think it’s the reason we didn’t beat Florida. So it’s positive for the guys. During the year it was probably in and out, which is expected for inexperienced goalies, I think,” said MacLellan. “I think both have been pretty good, but not great.”
MacLellan said they would explore potential changes in goaltending. He said there are a couple of free agents, but there are not a lot of potential options available in free agency.
Both Samsonov and Vanecek are arbitration eligible.
“We’re going through options for him to remedy. He’s put in a lot of work and effort to come back this year. It still isn’t the way I think he wants it, so we are going to look at options.”
Asked if it was possible Backstrom’s career was in jeopardy, MacLellan did not directly answer and said:“I think he’s going to explore all options here. He wants it to be better. He wants to be more physically comfortable when he plays, so he’s going to explore it.”
“He wasn’t gonna come back (in the series). They’re having exit medicals, they’ll make a decision here over the next day or two.” MacLellan said surgery was on the table, but doubted the start of next season was in jeopardy for Wilson.
On Core Guys And Youth
MacLellan was asked if the team was slow and needed an infusion of speed. He disagreed. “I think we need a youth injection more than a speed injection. I’m not buying that we’re slow” said MacLellan. “Speed wise, I don’t know that Florida is faster than us. I think they maybe play a little faster, but actual speed, I think we’re just as fast as them.”
”I think there’s opportunities. I think McMichael’s role will expand, Marty will get to the next level. I think we got some guys, Protas, Leason, Axel, Snively, that have shown us enough that they warrant an opportunity to play.”
On Coach Laviolette
Regarding potential extension talks with coach Peter Laviolette, who is entering the last year of his deal, MacLellan said: “I think we’re going to keep that between management and the coaching staff.”
MacLellan went on to praise Laviolette’s coaching job for the season and the playoffs. He said he thought Laviolette did a good job this season and had a good game plan in the playoffs that worked well when it was executed.