In his extensive chat with reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex following Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, Capitals general manager George McPhee revealed some of the conversations he had during trade talks with other NHL teams.
Here are some more excerpts from his session with the media:
On seeking a defenseman through a trade:
“We looked at all the opportunities at that position. There wasn’t much out there at that position. There were no guys that [were traded] that moved the needle. There were no guys that [were traded] that we didn’t already have that kind of player. That was a thin position and not a lot of activity in it this year.”
[RELATED: Bondra on the Halak trade]
On the current depth of the blue line:
“I like where we’ve gone with our blue line. I like now that [Jack] Hillen is back. I like the way [Dmitry] Orlov has played. I like the way we’re lined up on the right side and I like now that Hillen is back we’re a real mobile defense now. It’s where we’re tying to go. Speed and puck movement, that’s the league now. They’re young but [John] Carlson is having a career year. [Karl] Alzner is as steady as they come. Mike Green’s a talent, Orlov’s a talent and he’s playing. [John] Erskine brings the muscle when we need it. We like Connor Carrick. He’s young, but he’s a good player. I know I had a GM talk to me about him [Tuesday] and he said, ‘I really like that kid.’ I said he’s young and he said, ‘Yeah, he’s good. I’ll take him off your hands if you’d like,’ and I said, ‘No thanks.’ It’s a young group, but they’re good. They’re fast, they’re mobile and it’s where you generate a lot of offense in the league now.”
On whether Dmitry Orlov is a top-four defenseman:
“Well, that’s where we’re playing him right now. But we’ve got Hillen there, too. So we’ll see how that goes, how they play. But we have some options. We like that flexibility. We’ve got some depth now if people get hurt.”
On how he acquired Dustin Penner:
“Every once in a while you call a team and they raise a name and you say, ‘Geez, that fits for us,’ and you know right away. I asked them what they were looking for. It wasn’t extortion [a fourth-round pick], it was fair. It was like the deal we did in September [when the Caps sent Mathieu Perreault to the Ducks for a fourth-round pick and John Mitchell] and I got off the phone and I said to our guys, ‘You know this thing makes sense. Right now it makes sense to me, let’s discuss it.’ We kept kicking it around and I said, ‘Why aren’t we doing this? We should call him [Ducks GM Bob Murray] right back and try to get this done.’ I called him back about 30 minutes later and said, ‘I’m ready to do that deal if you want to talk about it.’ He said, ‘Let me sleep on it and I’ll call you first thing in the morning,’ and he did. I said, ‘We’re ready to go on this if you are,’ and he said, ‘OK.’ It was nice to get one done early and know I have someone on the left side because the plan was to move [Marty] Erat. I like the fact [Penner] is a big guy. He can play on lots of different lines, sort of what [Mike] Knuble did for us a few years ago. It’s nice to have those guys that can just go to the front of the net, hold people off and jam pucks in.
On accepting Rostilav Klesla’s $2.9 million contract in the Marty Erat deal:
It’s the only way Phoenix could do the deal. So we were prepared to do it. That’s why we got a guy like [forward Chris] Brown. [Editor’s note: Brown was recalled from the Bears today and is expected to replace Brooks Laich in the lineup against the Bruins]. We said, ‘If we’re going to do that deal we need more than a pick. We need something back. [Brown] is a big kid [6-foot-2, 215 pounds], he can score goals at the pro level it looks like. He skates well enough, plays physical, drops the mitts once in a while. He’s got that NHL size we like and interestingly enough, Alan May knows him really well from Texas and said he’s a great character kid and really wants to be a player and puts in the time to train and do everything necessary to be a good pro. We like him. We like that size we have with guys like [Tom] Wilson and [Joel] Ward and [Troy] Browuer and [Jason] Chimera. We like to have that size.
On what he tries to stay away from at the trade deadline:
What you’re trying to do is help your club. You’ve got to think about the guys in the room. Will this help them? Will they like it? Does it make us better? Does it give us more ammunition in this playoff drive? That’s what you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes it’s expensive to do, sometimes it’s not. You make the traded and you keep your fingers crossed and you hope it works for your team. We’ve been pretty good at it for a while. Then you evaluate your trades. You can look at a trade in the short term and look at that same trade in the long term and you get different answers. My obligation is to the team on the ice that’s working their guts out to win games. And you have fans that are pulling for you and you’re trying to make both constituencies happy. If I can remember it all, we got two players out [Erat and Neuvirth] that weren’t all that happy. We brought two guys in [Penner and Halak] that are experienced guys that have been in the spotlight and have had success. We’ve cleared a lot of cap space [roughly $16 million] for next year. We’ve added two really good picks for the 2015 draft -- a real good draft, much better than this summer’s draft. We’ve added a young power forward [Brown] to the lineup. So I think we’d make lots of people happy throughout the organization and around the organization.”