Screen cap: @Capitals
After a busy first day of free agency, Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan spoke with the media at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on the decisions made by the team to address a number of their roster needs.
After trading goaltender Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, and non-tendering former first-round pick Ilya Samsonov, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Caps were in need of a number one netminder AND a backup. Both Vanecek and Samsonov, while at times impressive, failed to maintain consistent play in between the pipes.
“I think we were looking to make a change, first of all. I think when Georgiev signed his deal, our case changed a little bit on us, and we would’ve stuck that way, we would have been stuck with a higher number [referring to possible arbitration numbers for Samsonov]. I think the plan was to get a number one that we really liked and felt comfortable with.”
“I think we had two good goalies, the young guys were good. I guess it’s a little frustrating that I wish one of them would have taken over the number one spot. And it seemed one or the other were going to do it, and never quite did it, but I think we ran out of time to wait for it. I still think they both have a good future in the NHL, they’re still young, still improving. It’s just a situation where we tried it, and didn’t have time to stick with them both.”
To replace their goaltender tandem from last season, MacLellan signed Darcy Kuemper, fresh off a Stanley Cup victory with the Colorado Avalanche, to a five-year contract, while adding backup Charlie Lindgren on a three-year deal.
“He’s [Kuemper] a good goalie, obviously just won a Stanley Cup. Had a lot of good years, lot of good performances, seems like a good person, good character, good team guy, I think exactly what we needed going into next year…He seems to be a guy that likes to play a lot from what I hear, I mean our goalie coaches will balance it out to hopefully make sure that everyone stays fresh.”
“I liked his [Lindgren] performance last year. I know it wasn’t a lot of games but we think there’s some upside there in the goalie, so we gave him the three-year term because it was competitive for him. I think there was a lot of teams that were looking at him, he was coming in at a good number and he had a good performance last year but limited games so we think he can continue to play well.”
In addition to player needs, the Caps lost Assistant Coach Scott Arniel to the Winnipeg Jets, and have yet to find a replacement.
“We’re interviewing guys, we’ve got four or five candidates, coaches are going through it, we’ll talk more as soon as Development Camp’s over, hopefully find a guy.”
In addition to the re-signing of defenseman Matt Irwin,”yes, unofficially”, and free agent acquisitions of Eric Gustafsson, the Caps would likely look at other options (since MacLellan held his press conference the Capitals have traded for forward Connor Brown, signed Center Henrik Borgstrom, and re-signed Marcus Johansson).
“We’re still poking around. I think we’re looking at the forward market still, find something that works for us. We’re gonna look at trades, there’s a couple free agents left, and see what we can afford too, still analyzing the market…we’ve talked to Marcus’ camp, so we’ll see where that goes. We’re examining all areas.”
Tom Wilson’s recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL is “going well” according to MacLellan.
See MacLellan’s full remarks below:
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2022
By Michael Fleetwood