Trotz MacLellan (11 of 13)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Early Monday, the Washington Capitals announced that they had promoted Ross Mahoney, who has been the Caps’ director of amateur scouting for the past 16 seasons, to the vacant assistant general manager position.

At 1pm, Caps GM Brian MacLellan held a conference call with reporters to talk about Mahoney’s promotion, but the discussion quickly turned to everything else.

Brooks Laich Will Not Be Bought Out

The Caps Are Still Determining Olie Kolzig’s New Role

Mitch Korn Expected To Be Team’s New Goalie Coach

It appears Korn feels the same way.

The Caps Intend To Be Active In Free Agency

Caps Will Develop Evgeny Kuznetsov As Center

GMBM Interested In Bringing Grabo Back For Right Price

Mike Green Will Not Be Traded

I’d be interested to know what those are.

Caps Negotiating With RFA’s

MacLellan is looking to bring back Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, and Cam Schilling.

Caps Really Want Top Pairing D

Thank God.

Grubauer Will Likely Be In Hershey Next Year

No Duh

Caps Interested In Moving Up In Draft


So that was pretty eventful. What do you guys think?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland
  • Phil

    I’m pretty sure this is already more information given out then during the entire McPhee era. I like it. It’s good to know whats going on.

    Then again maybe its just GOOD information that i’m paying attention to.

  • Red

    I would sell/trade a third of the team to keep Grabby. We need to possess the possession machine. Kuzya is too inexperienced for 2C and Laich/Johansson are strait up not good enough.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I would keep Grabovski too if his price isn’t too steep. If they can give him bigger money to stay for a shorter term (3-4 more years), that’d be very worth it. You are completely right. The Caps need more players like him who can actually possess the puck.

  • hopeless

    Johansson is a waste of space. Playing with Ovi and Nicky got him nowhere this last season. Why was MattyP given away when we were stuck with MoJo? Oh yeah, GMGM…

  • Red

    Grabby is still getting that buyout paycheck from Toronto right? That’s gotta factor into his salary negotiations.

  • Cthulu’s Alarm Clock

    Am I alone in thinking developing Kuzya as a winger would be better than as a center? He shows a lot of potential as a playmaker (I want to say he’s great at it, but his NHL sample size is waaaay too small to make that statement), but that faceoff % in the KHL really bothers me…

  • DirtySanchez

    Why? He can get more than the Caps are offering from a team that has more hope and direction on it. So he can get the best of both worlds, improve his salary and his chances at making the playoffs.

  • Luke Anthony

    Please bring back Grabo. Mojo is horrible at draws, Kuzya I don’t believe is much better and Laich can’t stay healthy. Need money? Buy out Erskine’s $2 million cap hit with our last compliance. Also, Greiss is my vote to be our second goalie.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    He is, yes. Not sure that would influence his decision though. Money’s money!

  • DirtySanchez

    And why does this organization think Kuznetsov can play C??? He does not want to be a C. He is a play making Winger. Attempting either of the 3 that BMac suggested at C is exactly what McPhee used to do.

  • DirtySanchez

    Erskine can’t have a compliance buyout. His contract was signed after the new CBA was signed.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I don’t think he minds playing center and I think in the future it could be the best place for him. His only real weakness at the position is taking face-offs. That can always improve with more strength and practice, but I’m not sure they want to ice a guy that will win under 40% of them next year. That’s not really helping things.

  • kyle boyd

    i really like the idea of preparing kuzya here and there to play center, because as he said it would be nice to get a young guy developed into that position. that being said, its clear we don’t have a 2C in the organization for next year, and so signing grabo should be a priority. though i do like that he plans tro be aggressive addressing needs at D, i hope that means he’s willing to trade for it..

  • DirtySanchez

    He needs about 15 more pounds of upper body muscle in order to handle playing 18 minutes at C position in this league. He will get shoved off the puck way too easily. He’s not ready for that. Put him at W and leave him there, he can be an Ales Hemsky type for us.

  • Luke Anthony

    That’s right, thanks for pointing that out. God that contract is awful.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I don’t know if I agree with you there. He could use some more muscle mass sure, but he wasn’t shoved off the puck at any point last year. It truly shocked me. I’ve said it on other posts: he’s already one of the team’s best forecheckers.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Same here. I think long-term at center is probably the way to go, but he may hurt the team learning the position there next year. I really wouldn’t mind seeing him play on the first line with Ovechkin.

  • DirtySanchez

    I saw him pushed off the puck a number of times in the corner, so I disagree with you on that. I liked his play last year, but to move him to C could kill his career, much like moving Marcus to Winger did. Play the young kids where they should be played. Do not ruin them. Find a C, and play him between Wilson and Kuznetsov and let that line grow up together.

  • Barrett

    I think I said everything over the past 6-8 months that has just been said by GMBM. Why the hell didn’t they hire me!?

  • DirtySanchez

    because like him, you’d both be the wrong person for the job :)

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Because you’d totally ice 25 John Erskine’s if you could, Barrett. Haha.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    “Find a C, and play him between Wilson and Kuznetsov ”

    I wouldn’t mind that at. all.

  • Barrett

    Lies. 24 Erskine’s and a Wilson.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    <3

  • Barrett

    Would have been nice to try Filip Forsberg there at some point. Chandler Stephenson could possibly be an option too.

  • Igor Kleyner

    He is still at the age when putting another 15 pounds of muscle is not that big of a deal. And his frame looks like it can handle that addition easily. At C, he may have a higher ceiling. But probably higher risk as well.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    When Ted runs out of former players or current employees in the organization to hire, then he will turn to the fans.

  • Pat Magee

    Not a fan of trying to re-sign Schilling, or those other 2C options, but other than that I like what I’m reading.

  • Brackaphobia

    All I cant think of-dat slap pass- :drools

  • Pat Magee

    Who is Filip Forsberg? /sarcasm

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Great work, Ian.

  • mucha563

    I am sure the players are appreciating the vote of confidence the new GM is giving them by saying that he thinks they were hindered by circumstances last year.

  • DirtySanchez

    why? McPhee used to say the same things. They were hindered by injuries. They were hindered by late flights from Montreal. They were hindered by everyone not being on the same page. They were hindered by a lack of depth (which he didnt give them). This organization will always be hindered because they just quite simply don’t have enough talent to not be hindered.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Thanks! But please come home soon, you’re totally missed here in MD.

  • Bilal

    I think it had a little to do with Oates, i’m pretty sure he said something along the lines of MP not being part of his plans, so GMGM dealt him

  • Zachary Adomanis

    I am kind of confused by the complete denial to even think about using our buy out on Laich. That is a lot of freed up money that could be used for Grabo/a top D FA.

  • mucha563

    I was just reading your other replies, to this post and others, and realized you are just a miserable person. I am not sure if you are even a Capitals fan, but if you are, why???

  • DirtySanchez

    how am I a miserable person? Do you not like the truth or other people’s opinions? I guess you are an eternal optimist and that is fine. I have no issue with that. But nothing I said above is wrong. You realize this team just missed the playoffs, correct? You realize they have been trending downward for the last 5 years, correct? The team doesn’t have enough talent, some of its top talent is already on the decline. So really not sure what to tell you. That is my opinion of the team and where it stands now.

  • hopeless

    Would you really mind enough to trade his spot in the first line if you wore BW#3 outfit to every home game?

  • Bilal

    Playing Kuzya at C is pretty interesting, he seems to have the play making ability to do well, but that face off percentage needs to improve. But I think he can achieve that, he certainly has the drive and work ethic. But if we were to play him at C, how about on the third line? Maybe have Wilson play there with him? That’s only if they want him to play C though. If he plays winger, then I would like for him to be in the top 6. Maybe a Kuzya-Grabo-Wilson line? I don’t know, but I really want Wilson and Kuzya playing together, have the young guys build chemistry (also slap passes leading to goals are pretty nice too)

  • Myan

    If Grabo leaves I hope to GOD that we don’t try to replace him with Mojo. No. Just NO.

  • The Fresh Prince of Nowhere

    It’s pretty common for people to resort to personal attacks when they have no response to one’s critical analysis or complaints about the team. You just have to forgive them, since they don’t know how to counter with an argument pertaining to the topic of the team.

  • mucha563

    First, you said I do not like other people’s opinions but your original reply was not an opinion to what I had written. I said the players must appreciate the vote of confidence, I didn’t say that it would magically fix the team. Second, do you really think you are witty by saying that I might not have realized the Caps missed the playoffs? Even a grade school student could come up with something better than that. I think you are miserable because you have not written a single positive comment in all of your postings. I am far from an eternal optimist; however with that being said, I am hopeful that the new changes in coaching and management will help get this team back on track. If you are not hopeful about anything with this team, why do you continue to be a “fan”?

  • DirtySanchez

    apparently you missed me saying I’d like the Caps to find a C to play with Kuznetsov and Wilson and let them grow together. But fine, ignore the facts in front of your eyes

  • The Fresh Prince of Nowhere

    You can’t entirely blame fans for having that outlook. His first response indicates exactly why.

    This organization has done nothing but constantly come up with excuses, has lied to fans, and has done little, if next to nothing to address those needs over the years.

    I myself have no judgement yet on GMBM, but it’s not the fans that have something to prove to the team to be a fan, it’s the Capitals that finally have to own up to what they have been preaching since the 2005 lockout, which to be honest, have met very little of those expectations.

    These people are as much fans as you and I because they still cheer for the team. Being hopeful or doubtful about the team doesn’t factor in my eyes.

  • DirtySanchez

    Questioning people’s fandom? Really? I avoided getting personal and there you go doing it again. Some people I do not get. You are one of them. I go to pretty much every home game, have done so for the better part of 20 years. I go when we win, and when we stink. That is how I do things. I cheer for the team, but I am not blinded by what is said by people. I formulate my opinion based on actions, facts and words, not on hope and optimism. A fan is being with the team through ups and downs, being positive and negative about the team. It is called being REALISTIC about sports.

  • Mark Shrader

    there just straight up not good at all

  • Mark Shrader

    @ianoland:disqus I don’t agree we need to buyout Laich and we need to trade Green he has 1 year remaining on his contract and he’s god awful at defense I don’t care if we pair him with a defensive defenseman how about trade Green and get a dman then get a dman through FA then pair them together if we have to keep Green at least make him switch positions. But good job on everything else good article minus Green and Laich.

  • John M

    I’m hearing, “Grabovski would make us a better team next year but we’re not terribly interested in being a better team next year, we’re interested in getting back to building through young players (Kuzya) and the draft (trade up) so that we become real cup contenders. We’ll keep Grabovski if he doesn’t get in the way of our other plans–that is, if we can’t find a top-line defenseman to take our cap space. We’d rather use our money to see if Brooks Laich can return to form than to send him away and field a better roster. And we have to hold onto that buyout in case Ovechkin goes belly up at some point.”

  • Sarah

    Some of this is making me see the value of having somebody from within the organization take over (ducks rotten fruit). He’s being diplomatic, but he literally knows everything that was wrong last year, probably including a lot of things even we never heard of.
    Antsy about losing Grabo but otherwise <3 over here. Still willing to hum Vanessa Williams in his honor…

  • Matt Lauer

    They won’t use the compliance buyout?!?!!?? Does this mean that we get another muffinly season out of Erskine?

  • Megan

    Wow this guy really means business. Maybe he is not a GMGM repeat after all…

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Different fans appreciate teams in different ways. Just because he’s critical doesn’t mean he’s not a fan.

  • Sarah

    Are you sure you want the job, Barrett? Especially if your last name starts with M it could be a real pickle… :D

  • JenniferH

    Listening now, thanks. :)

  • JenniferH

    Well, Maclellan pointed out that Kuzya actually is a natural center which is why he said him so I think him as center would be fine. His low percentage at playoffs simply could have been because of his newness in the NHL. He really did only play a small handful of games.

  • JenniferH

    I just listened to the audio and the exact words Maclellan used were: “I’d like to explore Kuznetsov playing his natural position as center.” So center is his natural position. Furthermore, later in the audio, he says quite clearly that this is all conjecture, they haven’t gone to development camp. This will be decided THEN, when they’ve tried stuff out and see how it works. I suggest you listen to the audio (it’s only 15 minutes before making these judgements based off of the tweets.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Maybe. It is too soon to tell. What they do in the draft and free agency will paint a pretty accurate picture of what’s to come this season. You can count on them missing the postseason again if they can’t re-sign Grabovski and can’t replace him with anyone better, nor if they go into the season thinking a top-four blueline of Alzner, Green, Carlson, and Orlov is going to make a difference. I think to get a quality SAH defenseman or two, it will mean shipping off their first pick or parting ways with someone like Kuznetsov or Bowey, which I don’t see them doing. Offense is a different level though, and I am hoping they can solve that via-free agency.

  • JenniferH

    Just listened to the audio (and I suggest everyone who can do so – it’s only 15 minutes long – take a listen) and I liked. While he does make the suggestions for Kuzya, MoJo or Laich as center, what I really liked is it was an off-the-cuff answer to a follow-up about well, what do you do if you aren’t able to get Grabo. Later in the interview, he very clearly states — Hey, we haven’t even gone to development camp yet. We’ll see HOW things play out, how guys work at these positions and we’ll make our decisions THEN. I liked that a LOT!

    I also, of course, LOVED what he said about Holtby tons. Totally laid what happened last season on Oates’ feet (where it belonged), flat-out said that Holtby is the #1 this season, they are looking for a veteran back-up an Gruby will the #3 in Hershey and call-up in case of an injury.

    I know this isn’t what all agree with, but I also am happy with what he said about Green because I agree 100% with that. Oates screwed him over almost as much as he did Holtby. I expect a resurgence from Greenie too, and I’m glad that there is no intention of letting him go.

    Mac made it very clear that defense is the biggest need when it comes to drafting and trade and we all know that’s the truth. And surely seems to get and see what all the problems last season were something that the organization was publicly blind too before. I can only hope that Laich actually IS up to snuff this time and is the player we need him to be.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Green’s defensive deficiencies never began until Bruce Boudreau took over, and never became noticeable until he lost Shaone Morrisonn. Aside from that he was pretty damn good in Jrs. with the Blades and his first two years here under Hanlon. The wing experiment had been done, although not officially, Boudreau used him like a third winger, which meant all the forwards had to overcompensate on the forecheck.

    Green, although bad defensively, has much more value and upside to bring to a team with his contract than Brooks Laich.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    I wish they had committed to one of either Varlamov, Neuvirth, or Holtby a long time ago, instead of the constant carousel of competition that had existed since the Kolzig era came to an end in net. I am a firm believer in veteran mentorship and a goaltender of that kind is exactly what the team needs behind Holtby this season. He is very strong mentally, and that says a lot considering he played for a fragile Blades team in Jrs. Liked him in Juniors, love him more at the NHL level. I didn’t watch closely enough while he was in Hershey.

    It’s hard to fall in love with this group of players than I did with the 90s, but Holtby’s attitude last season gained my respect as a fan, especially with his comments about how the team needed to prepare better. Really irritated me that none of his teammates nor his coach had his back. He’s our guy though. Now we have to build around him.

  • Roy Schue

    Once he is ready for NHL…. Burakovsky-kuzya-Wilson

  • Roy Schue

    It is easy for us fans to sit behind our computers and suggest that a person just throws a few million dollars out the window… Would I like to see Laich bought out, in short YES but again it’s not my money

  • Roy Schue

    Erskine is not eligible for a buyout

  • Roy Schue

    It was hard to commit to Nuevy or Varly because they were both hurt so often

  • Shaun Phillips

    I think he was horrible at faceoffs in the KHL too.

  • Eileen

    But what I REALLY care about is more Hershey Bears news!! Glad for us Hersh-ites that we get Phil back and all (maybe not so much for Phil’s sake) but I wanna know more about their plans for Da Bears. Patience is hard….

  • Graham Dumas

    Umm, or Laich, or Kuzya. None of those three guys fit the hole that Grabo would leave.

  • Graham Dumas

    That was also my understanding. I don’t see him as a “natural” center. But, as I always say, maybe that’s why I’m not a GM.

  • JH

    Hmm. Couple things I like and a couple things I’m unsure/unsettled about:

    I like:
    * They’re keeping Green (clearly the reference to “circumstances” that limited his performance = Oates, at least).
    * They’re gunning for a top D-man.
    I’m unsure/unsettled:
    * Kuzya at C – what line and with whom? Can he improve on the faceoff? What are we thinking at winger with Nos. 8 and 19?
    * Grabo – doesn’t sound promising that we’ll get him back. I worry about our possession.
    * Laich – hope to God he plays to his contract
    * Erskine – are we seriously keeping him? Ugh.
    * Mojo – where does he fit in? I think he’s terrible as 1LW – I think he’s a more natural C except everyone says he can’t faceoff.
    So many questions….

  • Eileen

    Oh, I missed that line about Latta, Schmidt and Schilling so I guess
    there was more Bears talk. I need to listen to the whole thing sometime.
    Latta and Schmidt? YAY! Schilling? ….meh.

  • ?????

    Kuznetsov, Johansson, or Laich as 2nd line center…again…let me go pull out the dictionary and see what the word insanity means again…

  • IafrateNoGhosts

    Get a room!

  • themav80

    I hope we get Green back. I like Carlson a lot, but I think Green is a better QB on the power play.

  • SeminAllOverTheIce

    Varly was hands down our best goalie and biggest mistake letting him go. As for the injuries thing, thats on our training staff. Varly even mentioned them in an interview how they would rush him back even though he said he wasnt good to go. Proof is in Colorado…injury free, Vezina candidate. Ooof that one still hurts.

  • SeminAllOverTheIce

    Disagree, he sounds exactly like GMGM. To me, this guy is looking more and more like another Ted Puppet.

  • SeminAllOverTheIce

    Here’s my take, which Im sure everyone on here cant wait to hear :P

    The only thing positive that came out of this interview that I could see, was that GMBM pointed out an obvious need…a vet back-up goalie. Only thing he also wasnt wishy washy on.

    Yes, he mentioned he wanted a top D…which everyone with even a little hockey knowledge knows. However he added that typical GMGM caveat of “however we will not overpay”. Not sure how come our management is always willing to way overpay for mediocre players (Schultz, Laich, etc) but wont overpay for important players. Just makes no sense.

    He mentioned our revolving door 2C…which again, anyone who knows Caps hockey, this is an annual struggle. We CANNOT fill this position in house. We dont have a 2C. Grabbo would suffice if we can re-sign him…although I still feel he would be a better fit as a 3C. So I would like to re-sign him to 3C money, perhaps not his $5 mil he wants. Unless….

    WE HAVE TO AMNESTY LAICH. It would be GMBM’s biggest blunder of the off-season if we do not rid ourselves of Laich and his horrible horrible contract. Im am clinging to hope, that perhaps GMBM is working on trading Laich (as part of a package or to keep the value of another player higher) by saying we arent buying him out. If Laich is still wearing a Caps jersey next season, GMBM is purely a Ted Puppet.

  • SeminAllOverTheIce

    Sorry, got sidetracked while typing that so I forgot to go back to the “unless” part. I’d be willing to give Grabbo his 4 for $5 or something relatively close IF Laich & his contract are gone.

    Also on Green, the circumstances (that I heard around the water cooler) were related to personal issues and management. And management did nothing to work with Green. Im not sure if the relation between management & Green is salvageable or not. If it is, great, then we only need 1 solid top 4 SAH D man and our D will look much improved. If they cant fix the relationship, we need to trade Green…which means now we need to replace him AND get another top 4 D.

  • Sarah

    I love Varly too, but he has the best goalie coaching available on planet earth in Colorado. Holtby is our guy. I’m super excited to see how he does with Korn and Olie on the scene and nobody else interfering.

  • Guest

    The buyouts are only good through the ’13-’14 season, you dingus.

  • jalabar

    “I’d be interested to know what those are.”
    Adam Oates was head coach. Calle Johansson coached the defense.
    Any other questions?

  • Roy Schue

    I don’t disagree with you, I loved Varly. I was just stating it was hard to count on him being healthy.

  • Eric Schulz

    The word you are looking for is “stupidity,” or “idiocy,” not insanity.

  • Eric Schulz

    We obviously need to resign Grabovski. But if we keep him and our top-4 are the aforementioned defensemen, we make the playoffs. I don’t want Orlov with Green on the 2nd pair, I think we’d be much better off upgrading (for once) to give Green a better fit on that 2nd pair, then using Orlov with one of any of the many guys we have that would fit across from him (whoever wins out, hopefully Wey). If we do that, I think we can contend, but even without an upgrade on defense, we have a team that should make the playoffs. The problem is winning in the playoffs without defensive defensemen.

  • Eric Schulz

    Erskine CAN be bought out however.

  • Eric Schulz

    Pretty sure Kuznetsov is worse on draws than Johansson.

  • dylan wheatley

    i don’t really understand this sentiment. mojo’s a good setup man. he’s decent along the boards. the only thing he doesn’t do that you’d want from a center is win face-offs. which can be taught.

    this year was only his 4th year in the nhl, he’s 23. he’s still got plenty of room to grow as a player, which is a really common argument i see regarding matty p, a worse (to my eyes) player.

    i guess my point is why errbody hatin mojo all of a sudden. cut the kid some slack.

  • John M

    Thanks, didn’t realize that. In the NBA, it has lasted longer.

  • Jonah

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. i think he nailed it.

  • Jonah

    i don’t agree with you that he was manhandled in the corner. kuzya is a speed player who will be a big asset on a run n gun offense which is what i think the caps will want to get back too. also, like @ianoland:disqus said, he’s already one of our best forecheckers. especially if he is paired with wilson he won’t be hit because dmen will know that if they take a run at them wilson’s got his number. as a player i know that its a lot easier as a small player to go into corners knowing that someone is gonna destroy anyone that tries to pull any crap with you.

  • Myan

    Mojo has disappointed me. He plays top line minutes but doesn’t produce like a top line player should. We only get 48% of all shots taken when he is on the ice at 5v5 play. We only score 41% of the goals when he is on ice at 5v5 play. I’m sure a lot of that can be attributed to Oates’ awful systems but the fact remains that those are pretty dreadful numbers. He isn’t a scoring threat and to me, he lacks that killer instinct in playmaking. I was impressed with Kuznetsov because in nearly every game he played, he put the puck into a really dangerous area and created a scoring opportunity…and he did this with about 13 minutes of ice time! Mojo plays about 20 minutes a night and I can’t recall a time when he found that soft area on the ice and generated a scoring opportunity out of nothing.

  • Myan

    I hear Mike Richards may get bought out…or we could try to get Kessler?

  • Graham Dumas

    Mmmmmmmmmyeah… I just really like Grabo.

  • Eric Schulz

    No, that’s “stupidity.” If somebody tried to pull open a push door, and it didn’t open… then tried again, and again and again.. would you say “wow, that guy’s INSANE,” or would you say “what an idiot?” Yeah, that’s the definition of stupidity: not learning from your mistake.

  • Jonah

    can we step back a second and realize that we are arguing about the definition of words?
    GOD DAMN i need hockey back.

  • DCsportsfan85

    Totally agreed Dylan. I think center is a better fit for Mojo’s talents anyways and he seems to be a better goal scorer when playing C vs LW. I think he has the tools to be a good 2C, but needs to get better at face offs and not getting knocked off the puck so easily.

    In regards to Kuzya….why wouldn’t you want to see this kid at 2C? I know he’s extremely raw and will need to get used to the North American game, but that’s what we drafted him as and he has all the tools to be an offensive force at center. He seems committed to back checking as well, so with him it’s going to be positioning, getting bigger/stronger, and face offs. All those things can be taught or achieved by working out.