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Capitals GM says team is looking for depth instead of making a splash

(Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

The Washington Capitals have already made one move ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, sending a third-round pick to Buffalo for depth defenseman Mike Weber. They’re not done, as with the addition of Weber, Washington had to place Jay Beagle on long-term injured reserve with the team slightly over the salary cap. To activate Beagle, some cap space will have to be created, either through a trade or a waiver.

“At some point we need to do something more,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said. “We’ll just see how the weekend plays out. The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. on Monday, and we should have it all worked out by then.”

MacLellan spoke with a handful of reporters at the team’s practice facility on Thursday afternoon. The message from MacLellan was the same as we heard from Coach Barry Trotz earlier in the week, that there won’t be any drastic additions to the team ahead of the trade deadline and the goal is acquiring depth for a potentially long playoff run. The Capitals have done that for the defense with the addition of Weber, and they could be looking to do that at forward now.

MacLellan said Washington could be done adding, and he’d be fine with that.

“I’m pretty content with the way our team’s played,” MacLellan said. “We have a lot of guys playing well. I’m not interested in bringing a guy in and throwing him in front of [Andre] Burakovsky or somebody like that. Our top-nine has been basically settled for quite a while here, and I’m comfortable with it. …

“I think it’s a little unusual this year in that we don’t have a hole up there that we’re trying to fill. We’re not coming in and saying that we need a top-six forward. I like our top-six forwards. I like our third line, so it’s not, ‘Do we need to fill a big hole?’ We’re not trying to fill that hole. We’re just trying to cover ourselves in case something happens. As deep as we can get our team, we’re going to get it.”

The Capitals were one of the teams who showed interest in Winnipeg left wing Andrew Ladd, and though MacLellan wasn’t asked specifically about Ladd, he alluded that acquiring a top-nine forward isn’t in the plans. In Ladd’s case, he carries a hefty cap hit ($4.4 million) for a rental and would likely cost at least a first-round pick to acquire.

MacLellan also said he’d be reluctant to mess with chemistry as the teams puts together one of the best NHL regular seasons we’ve ever seen.

“I mean, I look at it, and I don’t see huge upgrades out there,” MacLellan said. “I see the names. Is it a huge upgrade? Is it going to have that big an impact on our team? I don’t believe so.”

Speaking of adding depth, MacLellan said his goal is to get “a guy that can go up and down” from the American Hockey League affiliate, as Zach Sill did earlier this season. “A depth guy that’s, you know, that’s done it a little bit, that has some experience doing it. They can come up and play six or seven minutes and not hurt you,” MacLellan explained.

Trotz had mentioned Scott Gomez, on a professional tryout contract with the Hershey Bears, was on the organization’s radar, but MacLellan squashed that notion.

“I don’t think he would add what we need,” MacLellan said. “I mean, I think if you’re adding a guy like Gomez, you’re looking for help on your power play. I think we have two good power play units and I don’t anticipate we would need a guy like that, especially in the playoffs. I don’t think it’s a kind of guy that we would be looking at [for] depth. Maybe some other team would. I know there’s teams in there looking at him, and if you needed a guy who could play fourth line and power play, I think he’d be a good add.”

We’ll have more from MacLellan’s chat with reporters, so check back later today and tomorrow morning.