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George McPhee: Capitals "Not Interested" in Trading Michal Neuvirth

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ahead of Sunday's NHL Draft, Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee expects that "there may be more [trade] activity in this one than other drafts" as all 30 teams have to adjust to a reduced salary cap, one that will slide from $70.2 million to $64.3 million next season.

    "Particularly this year, teams are sort of more forthcoming on what they want to do," he said at a pre-draft press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "Now, they have to get the guys they want to move out there because you only have so much flexibility."

    Yet McPhee made it clear Monday that if there is a deal to be made, it won't involve goaltender Michal Neuvirth. 

    “We’re not interested in trading him,” McPhee said. "As we’ve often said, it’s the most important position in the game. We’ve got two good ones here and a couple good kids [prospects Philipp Grubauer and Brandon Anderson] down below in Hershey, so we don’t want to be in that position.

    "Goalies get hurt. Goalies can go off their game for a little bit and why not have as many good ones as you can? So, let’s see how this year goes and we’ll go from there."

    Neuvirth only appeared in 13 games last season, finishing with a 4-4-2 record with a 2.74 goals against average and .910 save percentage. The 25-year-old has been a victim of circumstance over the past two seasons, having lost several chances to reclaim the starting job he once had due to untimely bouts of injury and inconsistency.

    Braden Holtby seized the No. 1 spot at the end of the 2011-12 season after Neuvirth suffered a hip flexor injury in the Capitals' penultimate regular-season game and has yet to relinquish it. With a 23-12-1 record last season, Holtby is the Capitals' clear-cut starting goaltender. 

    Despite that, McPhee re-signed Neuvirth to a two-year, $5 million contract in late April -- a more lucrative contract than Holtby's two-year, $3.7 million deal -- to keep the NHL's youngest goaltending tandem intact. 

    “It was tough to watch Holtsy play, but I was supporting him every game,” Neuvirth said last month. “He was winning and there was no need to change anything. You never know what’s going to happen. My goal is to be No. 1 and I will do whatever it takes to be No. 1. I’m happy to stay with this organization and try to get to No. 1 here.”
    Of course, things can certainly change between now and Sunday's draft. Teams like the Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets are in need of goaltending help, and Neuvirth, who is both young and experienced, is an enticing asset.
    For now, McPhee is steadfast on keeping Holtby and Neuvirth together.
     
    “They’re both good goalies and I think you need both of them," he said. "It’s hard to go with one for 60-70 games. So we’ll see how that goes, but I don’t anticipate doing anything there on the trade front.” 

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