For the Washington Capitals, the time to finally win a Stanley Cup is now.
Or if not now, next year.
After that is anyone’s guess, according to GM Brian MacLellan.
“I view it as a two-year window,” MacLellan told reporters today. “We’re going for it this year, we’re going for it next year and then after that we’re evaluating where we’re at. We’re going to have some decisions to make as far as veteran players, and our young guys are going to be due for some pay raises.”
Chief among those young guys is Evgeny Kuznetsov, who can become a restricted free agent after next season. Key veterans T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams can also become free agents after next season, the unrestricted kind.
The Caps, of course, don’t need to be told that things can change quickly in the NHL. In the last decade, they’ve gone from missing the playoffs to winning the Presidents’ Trophy to missing the playoffs to, very likely, winning the Presidents’ Trophy again.
That’s why MacLellan views it as a two-year window. He’s not saying it can’t be longer. He’s saying it’s hard to predict these things. Heck, two years ago, how many people thought the Caps would be where they are right now? Back then, Kuznetsov had yet to make his NHL debut and the Caps were on their way to firing the coach and GM.
MacLellan was also asked about his plans for the trade deadline. Based on his response, don’t expect the Caps to be too aggressive.
“When you’re adding big pieces at the deadline, it’s always a question mark whether it will work or not, chemistry-wise,” he said. “Unless you have a big hole and I don’t think we have a big hole.”