Behind The Words

Posted on May 29, 2014 by Adam Stringham

Photo Credit: Adam Stringham

The Capitals' new General Manager Brian MacLellan appears to be of the mentality, as am I, that successful franchises are built through the draft. Pieces can be added through free agency and trades, but the core of your team must be home grown. Based on that belief it should be beneficial that his personal background includes stock trading, specifically finding companies to invest in, which he believes lends itself well to prospect/player analysis. MacLellan specifically cited; age, individual contributions, and a players' role (within their current organization) as being individual areas of importance when identifying and evaluating prospects. 

A common theme throughout the press conference was that the organization is going to committ to enhancing the Capitals' defense without mitigating their offensive ability. In reality the Capitals were a middle of the pack offensive team last year, in large part due to their lack of a traditional second line. MacLellan believes that the youth that the Capitals already have in their system will result in better and more consistent offensive production throughout the lineup. His views are not surprising given some of the great talent in the Capitals' pipeline; Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Dmitry Orlov, and Connor Carrick were all mentioned by MacLellan as being important pieces of this franchise moving forward. 

Much was made last year of Tom Wilson's lack of development under former Capitals' head coach Adam Oates. Capitals' fans should expect to see his development get back on the right tracks this year; but that development might not take place in Washington. Both MacLellan and Trotz indicated that they believe younger players are better served by getting lots of ice time in developmental leagues rather than getting minimal time in the NHL. 

 "We have to work on his skill level, he has obviously proven that he is physical: he can skate, hit, and fight. But I want him to be a top 6 forward"  -Brian MacLellan on Tom Wilson

Connor Carrick was another Capital that would have been better served to spend time on the ice rather than in the press box. GMBM picked out those five young players mentioned earlier as being keys to making the Capitals go from being a "good team" to  a "very good team". The youth in the system will provide the depth needed to help the Caps get over the hump, and MacLellan sees it being another year or two before those players are contributors every night. If it is truly one or two more years before the Capitals' return to being a very good team, a couple more of Ovechkin's "strong contribution" years could be labeled as being wasted. 

Even though he is high on the Capitals prospects within their system MacLellan could make some trades that would increase the teams' ability to win.  A limited FA pool and the increased league salary cap gives teams the incentive to look to the trade market for roster improvement. But even if no big other roster moves are made, Barry Trotz can get more out of this roster than any of his last two predecessors. 

One roster move Capitals' fans should no longer expect is a compliance buyout of Brooks Laich:

"I think we need Brooks Laich, when he is in our lineup the team plays better; a healthy Brooks Laich. A non healthy Brooks Laich hurts our chances". Brian MacLellan on Brooks Laich

MacLellan believes that Laich already has had his physical, and based on the report from the team's head athletic trainer ,Greg Smith, Laich is fully recovered.

Follow me on twitter @TalkTheRed and @Stringhama

next up:

Talk the Red Podcast (5/28/2014)

May 29, 2014

On This Episode: Thoughts on the recent hirings of GM Brian MacLellan and Head Coach Barry Trotz, Dave Nichols joins the guys, and Stanley Cup Predictions

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