The Caps are sitting pat – sort of.
General Manager Brian MacLellan finally emerged on Tuesday to talk about the past and future season. The big takeaway? Don’t look for any major changes or anything unexpected. To be clear:
- They are NOT NOT trading Alexander Ovechkin. Duh.
- Yes, he is STILL the captain!!
- They are NOT changing the coaching staff. (We think this is their last chance though.)
- They are working to come to terms with TJ Oshie – terms that won’t break the bank.
- No buyouts. That most likely would have applied to Brooks Orpik.
GMBM seems to have faith in the team they have; however, they are also looking for a younger, faster team which will mean moving up those younger players as veteran players begin to show a decline in their performance. As we said in our previous article, that mostly applies to Ovechkin, Backstrom, Beagle, and Niskanen (the over 30 crowd). Mac indicated that his top four defensemen are Niskanen, Carlson, Orlov, and Schmidt (per Washington Post) so we would expect that once Oshie is locked down, they will sign Orlov and Schmidt. Brett Connolly could be back as well. At least is sounds like he will be given a qualifying offer.
Others still to sign are Kuznetsov, Burakovsky, and Grubauer.
The writing is on the wall for the following players who are unlikely to be wearing red sweaters next season:
And we still expect Phillip Grubauer to head to Las Vegas.
We aren’t terribly surprised by the news. We know that signing Oshie is a priority and that creates a domino effect for the remaining RFAs and UFAs. If the Capitals want a younger team that they can mold into a playoff winning team, it will require the loss of a couple of favorite players and the slotting of some rookies in those positions.
The dust hasn’t even begun to settle but one thing is clear: certain players and coaches have been put on notice. Put up or face a trade or firing. No one is immune, not even Ovechkin or Trotz. We think the owners are serious about winning the cup, maybe REALLY serious for the first time ever. And they are willing to make some tough changes if that is what it takes.
Stay tuned friends, we have all of June to figure this one out!!