Brian MacLellan

Quick Links

Despite tumultuous offseason, Brian MacLellan declares 'We've got a good team'

Despite tumultuous offseason, Brian MacLellan declares 'We've got a good team'

Reports of the Capitals' demise have been greatly exaggerated. So says general manager Brian MacLellan.

Washington has undergone a tumultuous offseason that has seen the departure of several key players including Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner, among others. There is no doubt the Capitals are not the same team that ran away with the Presidents' Trophy the past two seasons, but MacLellan wants you to know that doesn't mean the Caps will nosedive next season.

“People make it sound like we’re a lottery team," MacLellan said in an interview with the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga. "I’m shocked by that. We’ve got good players. I want people to know: We’ve got a good team.”

RELATED: The time is now for prospect Walker to make history

The Capitals have loaded up their roster for several years in the hopes of winning the ever elusive Stanley Cup. But no team can reload forever, especially in the salary cap era. That seems to have caught up to the Caps this offseason.

MacLellan went on to address each of the major moves the team made, or didn't make, over the summer.

  • Losing Schmidt: The multiple goalies available in the expansion draft and in free agency made Philipp Grubauer less attractive to Vegas which is why the two teams could not come to an agreement to protect Schmidt. MacLellan also sees defense as an "organizational strength" for Washington with several prospects poised to compete for NHL time. “We like Schmidt,” MacLellan said. “But it’s not as huge a deal as people are making it out to be.”
  • Trading Johansson: MacLellan netted what the market dictated he could get for Johansson at that point in the offseason. Trading him earlier in the summer did not make sense because MacLellan would not know whether or not he would need to wait until after the final numbers on the Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie deals were in.
  • Signing Oshie for eight years: “The decision becomes: Do we want Oshie or not?” MacLellan said. “I don’t know what the stink is. Oshie, he’s a big part of our culture. He drives the team. We felt it was necessary. People like Williams at 36, but they don’t like Oshie at 36?”
  • Signing Kuznetsov for eight years, $62.4 million: “We sat there and said, ‘Kuzy’s 25 years old.’ He’s going to be a No. 1 center. It’s the way the league’s going — speed, youth. We’ve got two good centers [along with Nicklas Backstrom]. We spent forever trying to find the 1-2 punch. How can we not do it?’”

You can read Svrluga's full article here.

MORE CAPITALS: Why prospect Jakub Vrana can find success in 2017-18

Check out the latest episode of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

Like what you hear? Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play and give us a good review!

For the latest Caps coverage be sure to follow @CSNCapitals@TarikCSN@JillCSN and @JJReganCSN on Twitter.

Quick Links

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

After another second round playoff exit, just about everyone has an opinion on what direction he Caps should take this offseason. The one opinion that matters more than any other, however, is the man in charge of making those decisions, general manager Brian MacLellan. And, well, it doesn't sound as if he has quite made up his mind yet.

“I don't know that I have conclusions,” MacLellan told reporters Tuesday in his end of season availability. “I spent a lot of time interviewing players and coaches and then I talked to [team president Dick Patrick] and [owner Ted Leonsis] a lot. I don't have any obvious conclusions or specific issues to address. There's some internal stuff that we probably need to address to make things better going forward. … For me, for trying to address issues or problems that we might have, I don't know that any one  thing stood out to be able to say, 'This is the one thing that we need to fix right now to get to that next level.'”

Without something clear to fix, that makes the process of putting a team together for next season more difficult.

RELATED: MacLellan says no deal is imminent with Oshie

But while MacLellan was not sure exactly what needed fixing, he did say he was not expecting to blow up the roster or make any major changes.

“I think it’s tough to make a major change…I think it’s a lot easier to make this team worse than it is better,” MacLellan said. “If you make a major change, what’s it going to involve? Trading a franchise player, blowing the whole thing up? I don’t know that that makes sense.”

For a team that has won the Presidents’ Trophy in each of the last two seasons, you can understand why he would be reluctant to make such sweeping changes. Yet, Washington has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs since 1998. After a two-year self-imposed championship window in which the team ultimately has nothing to show for it, changes still need to be made.

MacLellan indicated that most changes would be internal rather than major roster changes, but even if he is loath to shake things up, he did acknowledge that the choice was not entirely up to him. The Caps were right up against the salary cap this past season and with restricted free agents Philipp Grubauer, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky all in need of new deals, the Caps may be forced to watch unrestricted free agents T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Daniel Winnik and Kevin Shattenkirk leave for new teams.

“It’s going to be hard to bring all the free agents back,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to be getting younger, our prospects are developing and they’re going to take a bigger role. It’s just going to be a different feel to it.”

Ultimately what that will mean is that the Caps will take a step back in the upcoming season. The roster in 2016-17 was just too good and too expensive to replicate for another year. But just how big of a step back will that be?

“I don't know we'll be at this level,” MacLellan said referring to this season’s roster. “I mean, we'll be competitive. … I think we're going to be a good team still.”

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan, Trotz take different view on Caps' postseason history

Quick Links

MacLellan, Trotz take different view on the team's history of postseason struggles

MacLellan, Trotz take different view on the team's history of postseason struggles

Barry Trotz has made it clear he does not think the Washington Capitals’ history of playoff failures affects the mentality of the team. On Tuesday, general manager Brian MacLellan made it clear that he disagrees with the head coach’s assessment.

"I think that plays a big part in the pressure on our team,” MacLellan told reporters. “Your history's your history. Whether you come in here last year or at the deadline, you're going to feel it. I can feel it up in the box that past pressure manifests itself in the present day. To ignore it I think is a mistake.”

RELATED: After down year, Caps want to see Ovechkin adjust

Trotz raised eyebrows in the wake of the team’s Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins when he said the players had all gotten past the team’s postseason history, even going so far as to call it a “joke.”

“I think it's so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it's actually becoming a joke to the guys,” Trotz said at breakdown day, “Which is probably good because playoffs haven't been fun here and maybe having some fun and laughing at the past a little bit and looking in the face is probably something that might ease us in the future. But it's become more of a bad question by media now because guys are sort of chuckling about it all the time now.”

MacLellan wasn’t laughing on Tuesday.

“I think you've got to acknowledge it and then you've got to work through it,” MacLellan said to reporters. “Just to say it doesn't matter – because it pops up – and if you're not acknowledging it, you're not going to be able to get through it because you're ignoring it. I would say all the past history matters to us, and then you can feel it in the building. You feel it in the crowd. It's in there. You tell me in that Game 7 that you couldn't feel it.”

MacLellan even went so far as to say the history was no longer Washington’s history, but now after three years of disappointing postseason results, both he and Trotz were a part of that history.

“We lost a Game 7, we lost a Game 6 last year, I think we’re part of it as an organization,” he told Jill Sorenson in a one-on-one interview. “I think three years ago we started as a fresh group and the history’s your history. Now we’re involved in it. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge it, it’s important for us to work through it. I think once we bring it to our awareness as the players do and the coaches do, we’ll have a better chance of moving through it.”

The question now is how does the team move through it? Well, that can be a problem if the coach and general manager do not see eye to eye on the issue.

MacLellan said he has spoken to Trotz about their different outlooks regarding the team’s history saying, “He philosophically disagrees. We just have a different way of looking at it.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz, staff will return next season