Don’t expect the Washington Capitals to be “all in” at the trade deadline like they have been in recent years. While the team sits atop the Metro Division once again, it is believed that general manager Brian MacLellan is taking a more measured approach to this season. A good, but not necessarily dominant team that has very little cap room to wiggle with, the Capitals are making a lot of key decision with next season in mind as well.
The extension of center Lars Eller Saturday was a critical move for MacLellan, who needed insurance the team wouldn’t have to replace a center next season, according to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan. If they hadn’t made that move, then the team would have been looking for a future center via trade using more of the team’s assets. The team has now started contract negotiations with pending unrestricted free agent John Carlson, which is their top priority. Depending on how negotiations go will have an effect of whether they pursue a blueliner at the trade deadline if they feel they can’t sign Carlson to an extension.
- In the same story, Khurshudyan writes that with Eller on board and if the team manages to extend Carlson, that could likely end the tenure of veteran center Jay Beagle. The 32-year-old fourth-line center has been with the Capitals for his entire career, but will be an unrestricted free agent next year. He has six goals and 11 assists in 54 games. He had a career best 13 goals and 30 points last year and currently makes $1.75MM.
- Khurshuyan also adds that the team is likely to trade backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer this summer. With starting goaltender Braden Holtby still under contract for another two years after this one, Grubauer has become expendable. The 26-year-old is ready for an increased role, which the team cannot provide. The backup will be a restricted free agent next year and should make quite a bit more than the $1.5MM he makes currently.
- NBC Sports’ Tarik El-Bashir writes that despite trade speculation surrounding youngster Andre Burakovsky, head coach Barry Trotz and MacLellan have given the 23-year-old votes of confidence. A winger with top-six potential, the former 2013 first-rounder has just four goals this year in an increased role and has spent some time in the press box as a healthy scratch. “[Burakovsky] got off track with his injury and missed some time and got out of sync,” MacLellan told reporters on Saturday. “I’m really confident that he’s going to be a good player here. He’ll find it down the stretch for us.”