George McPhee Addresses NHL Trade Deadline, Capitals' Outlook As Regular Season Winds Down

With only 15 regular-season games remaining, Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee addressed a variety of topics during a 37-minute interview Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, from the team's approach to the upcoming trade deadline to the future of the organization.

On the ongoing negotiations with unrestricted free agent and leading scorer Mike Ribeiro:

"I simply make decisions based on what’s best for the organization. And the individual comes a close second. Other than that, I’m not going to talk about individuals. I don’t think that’s fair. But that’s how we approach things. That’s how we approach the deadline."

On if the trade market is different during this lockout-shortened season:

"A little bit smaller than usual, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t open up. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t make hockey trades. A lot of people are reluctant to do rentals because it’s sometimes hard to re-sign those players and you do have to put a team on the ice next year. So you have to be careful. But there may be more hockey trades than the types that we’re used to.

"It’s a strange – it just doesn’t have a great feel to it. But we’ll go in with a plan and decide what’s best for the organization. We have some ideas. There may be nothing happening, there may be a lot happening. I don’t know until we get in there and people start deciding what they really want to do."

On how important the Capitals' upcoming three-game road trip is in determining the direction that they will go:

"I think there’s still a lot of hockey to be played. And we want to make the playoffs and we’re gonna continue to push for the playoffs [the Capitals are four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot entering play Friday]. We want to make the playoffs. And that’s the plan going into the trading deadline: What can we do that’s best for the organization and helps us make the playoffs?"

On what the plan is for top prospect Filip Forsberg once his season ends in Sweden:

"We’ve had some discussions with Forsberg and let them know that we’d like to have him in Hershey when the season’s over, take a look at him. It’s always the safe way to go. To bring a kid right to the NHL – maybe he’s ready to the NHL but I’d rather have him start in Hershey take a look and see how it goes. If he’s good enough to play here we’ll make a change, it helps everyone to spend a little time in the minors. It’s a good education for them."

On prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov's future and what position he could play if and when he arrives in Washington:

"There have been some discussions there and he really wants to play in the NHL. That’s the next challenge for him.

"He was a terrific center as a junior and if a guy can show you that he plays center, you try him at center. It looks like he’ll be a pretty dynamic, playmaking center."

On the current goaltending situation and if there has been any thought to giving Michal Neuvirth a chance elsewhere if Braden Holtby solidifies the No. 1 position:

"This situation could have been reversed. It could have been Michal playing all the games. Adam [Oates] designated Braden as the guy who would start and play more games but I don’t necessarily see it that way. I like to have the goalies come to camp and whoever has the best camp starts the first game and then you go from there. The fact Braden’s playing a lot doesn’t mean Neuvirth is not a good goalie. I think he’s a heck of a goalie. I like him a lot. We went to put him a couple times in the last few weeks and he was sick. Who knows maybe he goes in and pitches a shutout, he plays the next game and it goes in a different direction. We have two young goaltenders and I’m comfortable having both of them here.

"I’m in no hurry to make a change there. It’s the most important position in the game and you have to be careful. We felt we could move [Semyon] Varlamov because we had these two kids coming and we’ve got [Philipp] Grubauer now, but you’d like for him to have a little more experience."

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