LOS ANGELES — Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan has signed a multiyear contract extension, the team confirmed Friday. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The news was first reported by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.
Extending MacLellan provides some organizational stability, as Coach Barry Trotz is already operating in the last year of his deal. Though the Capitals have won the Presidents’ Trophy twice under Trotz with stellar regular season success, they haven’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs. The sense is that Washington’s front office will wait until after the season to make a decision on Trotz, who is the fifth-winningest NHL coach of all time. Though Trotz is a lame duck, his top assistant, associate head coach Todd Reirden, is under contract for one more season.
MacLellan was an assistant general manager in the organization for seven years before he was promoted to the general manager post after George McPhee and coach Adam Oates were ousted following the 2013-14 season, when Washington missed the playoffs. His marquee moves include trades for T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller. He signed forward Justin Williams to a team-friendly, two-year, $6.5 million deal before the 2015-16 season. Signing defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik before the 2014-15 season stabilized Washington’s blue line, though Orpik’s $5.5 million cap hit through next season has been criticized as a drain on a $75 million salary cap.
He made a splash last season when he traded a first-round pick and prospect forward Zach Sanford to St. Louis for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a move that backfired after the team still didn’t make it to the Eastern Conference final and Shattenkirk signed elsewhere in free agency. Facing salary cap constraints this summer, MacLellan gave Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov big contracts, forcing the trade of top-six 27-year-old forward Marcus Johansson to New Jersey for a second- and third-round draft pick. The Capitals also lost defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, a blow considering Schmidt had been penciled in to play on a second pairing with John Carlson.
Washington’s past “all-in” moves meant the team didn’t draft until the fourth round last summer. That led to a conservative approach at the trade deadline this season, as MacLellan wanted to hold onto the organization’s high draft picks. He parted with just a third- and fifth-round pick in acquiring mobile depth defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek.
The Capitals are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, poised to make the playoffs for a fourth straight year under MacLellan’s leadership.
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