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Mathieu Perreault: ‘I didn’t ask for a trade’

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

On the day two French reports detailed his unhappiness with a lack of ice time, Mathieu Perreault said he did not request a trade from the Capitals but that he simply wants more of an opportunity to play.

“I didn’t ask for a trade,” Perreault said Thursday morning. “Obviously I like it here, been around for four years, all my chums are [here]. I don’t wanna go anywhere. All I want is a little bit more ice time, and I talked to Adam Oates and [General Manager] George [McPhee] today about it. All I want is to play. I wanna be here. I don’t wanna go anywhere. If you guys read the article in French it doesn’t say that I asked for a trade. Never.”

Slotted as the Capitals’ fourth-line center, Perreault played just 3 minutes, 52 seconds in the season opener and 4:58 against Winnipeg and in separate interviews on different days with reporters from La Presse and Le Journal de Montreal he expressed his discontent about receiving so little ice time.

According to Marc-Antoine Godin from La Presse, Perreault said he didn’t know whether he was in Washington’s long-term plans but if not then the team should trade him.

Perreault said he had a “good talk” with Oates and McPhee before Thursday’s morning skate to clear the air and express his concerns. What the 25-year-old Quebec native wants is nothing more than a chance to show his new coach he can make a difference.

“I’m obviously not too happy. No one would be happy to be playing that much minutes,” Perreault said. “I want to show [Oates] what I can do but I’ve gotta get a little bit more minutes to show what I can do, because it’s hard to show what you can do with such little minutes. I’ve talked to them and they’re gonna try to work it. I’m looking forward to tonight’s game.”

Oates understands Perreault’s complaint and stressed that he’s still getting to know the 5-10, 185-pound forward’s game. The first-year bench boss said he apologized to Perreault following a shift against Tampa Bay for not finding a way to get him more involved in the game.

“I’m still learning my players, they’re still learning me. I obviously want to get that guy more ice time,” Oates said. “But he’s going to get his chance and basically the point is, if you’ve got a beef, no problem. Let’s just talk about it.”

Perreault recorded career highs in goals (16), assists (14) and points (30) last season and the production earned him a two-year, $2.1 million contract during the summer as a restricted free agent.

When he signed the deal in early July, Perreault said the Capitals told him he was “part of the elite forwards on the team” and that he expected to see top-six minutes.

Perreault’s skill-set is that of an offensive playmaker rather than a grinder or shut-down role, but with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro cemented on the top two lines and the offseason addition of Wojtek Wolski on the wing, he dropped down the depth chart. Earlier in the week, Oates said it was his fault that Perreault wasn’t seeing much ice time, but acknowledged the realities of the talent at the top of the lineup.

“You also got to look at the guys in front of him. I can’t put him in front of Mike Ribeiro or Nick Backstrom,” Oates said Wednesday. “So he’s gonna have to wait his turn and do the little things and keep improving his game. But if I can find minutes, I will definitely do that.”

Said Perreault: “I’m fine with a third- and fourth-line role. Obviously I’m not happy with the amount of minute I get. I’d like to get a little bit more, which is normal, no one would want to play that kind of minutes. It’s early in the season, it’s only two games in, so I’m staying positive and looking forward for the next few games here.”