Capitals general manager George McPhee addressed the media on a variety of topics about his team over the weekend. In Part One, McPhee addresses the two-year, $5 million contract extension he gave Michal Neuvirth and his thoughts on re-signing Mike Ribeiro:
On Neuvirth’s contract extension: We had a plan in place back in September to talk to our goalies and extend them. We went over it with [goaltending instructor] Dave Prior and he thought it was something we should do. While some people may consider Michal a backup, this year we don’t consider him a backup. He’s an outstanding goaltender and he’s been a great pro this year. He hasn’t played as much as he wanted to and he didn’t whine and he didn’t create any issues. We had a great conversation with Braden about it beforehand and he holds Michal in high regard. And Braden’s a great kid. Good guy, good teammate. He gets it. This is Michal’s third contract and they usually go up.
On needing to speak with Holtby because Neuvirth will earn more next season: Not necessarly. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. It’s the most important position in the game and we’ve got two real good ones and we wanted to keep them in the stable. In terms of financial commitment at that position, right now we’re in pretty good shape. And we want to avoid the free agent game. It’s not something we enjoy getting into and having to rely on. They may be free agents, but they’re never free. They’re pretty expensive.
On Brooks Laich [sports hernia surgery] being available for the post season: Hope so. He’s doing really well. Great attitude and he feels great. If he starts skating this week or next, he’s in pretty good shape. And Joel Ward [left knee bruise] is practicing, so it would be nice to see those guys.
On when Laich might be able to return: Maybe second round, maybe before that with this guy. He works hard and he’s doing really well.
On why the Caps have no plans to be active in free agency: It’s not something we’re interested in doing. …It means you’re doing something right. We’ve been drafting and developing and trading well, I guess. And Hershey’s made the playoffs eight straight years. We’ve made it six straight years. Without deviating a whole lot from the plan – draft well, develop well – and I think we’re in pretty good shape. And really pleased about making the playoffs again this year. It’s no easy feat in this league anymore. We missed the division title by a point last year. It would have been nice to win six in a row. But we’re in and we’ll just keep putting good teams on the ice and hope we have some good luck in the playoffs.
On if the Caps can re-sign Mike Ribeiro: We have a plan in place. It’s been in place for a while. So you don’t have to worry about where we are with the cap or anything like that because we’re not worried about it.
On prospect Tom Wilson joining the Hershey Bears: He played really well in the [OHL] playoffs. I saw him play one game in the first round. Actually, Adam [Oates] and I were talking about Wilson before our game on Thursday night and Dale [Hunter] just happened to text me and tell me how well Wilson was playing against him [in the OHL finals]. We called [Hunter] back and he said, ‘Physically, he’s dominating, but the important thing is he’s using his brain. He’s playing the game right.’ So we’re really happy with the way he’s developed. He and [defenseman Connor] Carrick will be going to Hershey [Monday] and probably practice [Tuesday].
On whether Wilson could join the Caps during the playoffs: Yeah, we had that discussion. We like the right side of our team. It looks pretty good. And Ward is pretty close to playing.
On the development of Caps defenseman Steve Oleksy: “I didn’t know him real well. The AHL [Classic] game we played here I was really impressed with him. I was keeping an eye on [Tomas] Kundratek because Adam said he was going to play, but Oleksy kept standing out. And I said I wouldn’t be afraid to try that kid at some point. And good for him. Great teammate.