Capitals General Manager George McPhee must spend the offseason searching for a new coach while also making decisions on how to reshape the team’s roster, two tasks that would seem to go hand in hand. So which to do first?
On breakdown day, McPhee was characteristically tight-lipped when asked about his ideal timeline for having a new coach in place. While he did not detail the type of coach he would like to bring in, McPhee may be looking for someone who can build off what Dale Hunter was able to accomplish in instilling a tougher, grittier style.
“My job now is to find the best human talent I can find to coach this club,” McPhee said. “I’m not in any rush to do that, because I haven’t really been thinking in those terms. I don’t know whether it’ll be by the draft or sometime in August, like New Jersey did [last summer]. We’re going to take our time and get the right person.”
In the meantime, the important dates of the NHL offeseason will creep closer.
The entry draft, June 22-23 in Pittsburgh, is five weeks from Friday. Washington holds two first-round picks (11th and 16th overall) after obtaining Colorado’s for goalie Semyon Varlamov last summer.
Teams can begin signing unrestricted free agents July 1. In addition to the draft and opening of free agency, the Capitals must decide the future of their four restricted free agents: Mike Green, John Carlson, Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault.
According to CapGeek.com, Washington will be more than $19 million under the salary cap when players become free agents, plenty of flexibility for whatever direction they choose.
After McPhee said that he could wait until late into the summer to find a new coach, he was asked if he felt it was less important to have someone in place when constructing a roster.
“I’m not sure that the coach is less important. But right now the whole focus for us is let’s process what we have to do with the team to make them really good again next year and get ready for the draft,” McPhee said. “And then if something happens in the meantime with a coach, that’ll be fine, but our focus is things we have to do with this club right now to make them better and deal with the draft.”