Caps Not Likely to Make a Deal

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 22, 2008

With the NHL's trade deadline less than a week away, George McPhee said he isn't among the general managers itching to make a move, even with his Washington Capitals pursuing the franchise's first playoff berth in four seasons.

"We like the players we have and the people they are," he said yesterday at the team's practice facility.

The Capitals, who have scored an average of just more than two goals per game over the past six contests, could benefit from a playmaking center to replace the injured Michael Nylander and rugged veteran to steady the inexperienced blueline. But McPhee said he is reluctant to trade a young player or prospect for a short-term solution. He also said he would prefer to hang on to his picks, including the three second-round selections he holds in this year's deep draft.

"To start trading things out that could be a part of the future makes no sense," McPhee said. "We had a power play late in [Wednesday's 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders] and five kids jumped over the boards, with an average age of 21 or 22. We've got to keep playing them if we're going to be going for a Cup."

The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Tuesday.

McPhee declined to discuss the future of goaltender Olie Kolzig, one of only two pending unrestricted free agents on the roster (checking-line wing Matt Bradley is the other). It's believed the 37-year-old lifelong Capital hasn't been approached by the team about a contract extension. But it also doesn't seem likely that McPhee would trade his No. 1 goaltender, given that the Capitals are challenging for the Southeast Division title.

McPhee did not rule out a minor move aimed at improving the Capitals' depth.

"If there's something that would help, that isn't too expensive, then we would certainly talk about it," he said before adding with a laugh, "We're always bargain hunting."

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he is not anticipating a major move -- and that he doesn't believe one is necessary considering the progress the youthful Capitals have made in recent months.

"I don't think there's a lot of tinkering to be done," Boudreau said. "If something changes, something changes. I have to assume it's going to be for the better. It's a good group of guys. We'll see how next week unfolds, but I'm not counting on anything happening."

Capitals Notes: Boudreau canceled practice yesterday because he felt the players could use some rest after a busy father-son road trip last weekend. . . . Defenseman Jeff Schultz, who suffered a strained left knee Wednesday night against the Islanders, was seen walking around Kettler Capitals Iceplex without a brace or a limp. He remains questionable for this weekend's games against Carolina and New Jersey.

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