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Why the Golden Knights got involved in Derick Brassard deal

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If Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee is to be believed, getting forward Ryan Reaves and a draft pick while not having to give up anything but some cap space was the meal ticket.

McPhee, who spoke to the media in Las Vegas during the first intermission of their game against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, said they added grit to their lineup with Reaves after the Golden Knights were one of three teams involved in a wild trade that ultimately sent Derick Brassard from Ottawa to Pittsburgh.

Reaves, McPhee said, is a tough guy who can do more than just dole out physical punishment.

“Ryan is a big strong guy that brings some grit, some strong depth to our hockey club,” McPhee said. “He’s a unique player. These players, tough guys in this league, many of them have been rendered obsolete because they can’t play. (Reaves) can play.

The deal was convoluted, McPhee admitted, saying that it’s something that happens with three teams involved. He said it took four transactions to make it work.

“We gave up some cap space, we have a lot of cap space and a minor league player to do this, so we picked up two assets,” McPhee said. “I thought it was a good deal for our club.”

McPhee said he spoke with Pittsburgh a couple days ago, and the deal for Reaves came together quite quickly. He said the issues with the deal were more on the side of Ottawa and Pittsburgh and once those were worked out, the deal was made.

McPhee said he doesn’t necessarily believe the club needs to make moves.

“But if there are opportunities to make the club a little bit better, one percent, two percent, three percent, you do it if it’s not going to affect chemistry,” he said.

This may only be part of the story here for the Golden Knights.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported that Vegas may have got involved in the deal to block the Winnipeg Jets from getting Brassard.

Even though the Jets and Golden Knights wouldn’t meet until the third round of the playoffs — a lot would have to go right for that to happen — Vegas essentially made sure that if the scenario ever came to fruition, they wouldn’t have to deal with Brassard in the series.

If true, that’s some next level stuff by McPhee and Co.

McPhee played down those reports in his presser, saying it wasn’t a “material” part of the deal.

“We saw an opportunity to pick up Ryan Reaves and a draft pick in what was a simple transaction for us,” he said.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the Jets were disappointed not to land Brassard after going “hard” after him. The move would have solidified Winnipeg’s spine, with Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Brassard and Adam Lowry down the middle. Winnipeg’s already a scary team without Brassard’s services. The fear factor would only have improved with him.

The Jets, reportedly, offered three pieces for Brassard, in what was a “solid” package. Given what Pittsburgh sent Ottawa’s way, that likely means a first-round pick, a roster player and a high-level prospect.

The Jets are now forced to look elsewhere, and perhaps they have the league’s newest team to blame for it.

A Jets-Golden Knights series would have a little more on the line if it comes to be this spring.

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Toronto approached Chiarelli before he took Oilers job

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Peter Chiarelli is already at work assessing the Edmonton Oilers depth chart.

The newly appointed President of Hockey Operations and GM of the Oilers was reportedly at prospect Leon Draisaitl’s game with the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night. With Chiarelli on the scouting trip was former GM Craig MacTavish.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Chiarelli has asked MacTavish to remain with the club at a position, which has yet to be defined. Chiarelli is also expected to meet with current Oilers’ head coach Todd Nelson in the coming days.

Friedman reports that prior to Chiarelli taking the Oilers job, the Leafs called the 50-year-old to gauge his interest in the in the Toronto vacancy.

The Leafs fired GM Dave Nonis along with interim head coach Peter Horachek and several scouts on April 12.

Leafs’ President Brendan Shanahan is also reportedly interested in both Sean Burke and George McPhee for GM role. The pair are currently part of Team Canada’s management staff for the upcoming World Hockey Championship.

Laich: Missing playoffs ‘might’ve been greatest day going forward’ for Caps

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Last season, the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. That disappointment led to coach Adam Oates and longtime GM George McPhee being fired and turned the offseason into a bit of a tumultuous one.

If you ask Caps forward Brooks Laich about last season, he’s looking on the bright side of life as Dan Rosen of NHL.com shared.

“My honest opinion is not making the playoffs last year might have been the greatest day going forward for our organization, because I really think it made us all take a look in the mirror and at our failures and why we are failing,” Laich told NHL.com. “If we would have made the playoffs and lost in the first or second round it would have been the same old story, but you wouldn’t have had that hard, brutally honest look at yourselves to realize why you are failing.”

To say the Caps have been treading water in the postseason the past few years may sound cruel, but when you don’t get past the second round six straight seasons, maybe that’s the right way to put it.

Going through a season that saw virtually everyone’s production drop is a painful way to make change happen, but now the Caps will look forward to Barry Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan trying to get the team to their first Eastern Conference Final since 1998.

Ovechkin is glad he wasn’t fired, says ‘Everybody has to change’

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Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin knows it was a rough summer for the organization.

Both coach Adam Oates and 17-year GM George McPhee were fired and replaced by Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan. As he arrived in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards that take place on Tuesday night, he lightened the mood about the changes made as Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared.

“Thank God they don’t fire me yet,” he added, drawing laughs from the reporters around him. “I’m still here with the Capitals.”

Hey-oh! Ovechkin is in Vegas after all. As for working with Trotz, Ovechkin said he doesn’t know what the coach wants to do yet, but said it’ll be a chance for everyone to get on the same page. From Prewitt:

“I can tell you nothing, but we’re going to see how it goes into training camp,” Ovechkin said. “[Trotz is] going to explain to everybody. It’s not about just me. Everybody has to change. We’re going to be in that kind of position.”

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, it’s safe to say just about everyone is on notice, even the captain of the team who scored 51 goals last season.

Caps promote Ross Mahoney to assistant GM

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The Washington Capitals are keeping their front office business in-house.

The team announced they’ve promoted Ross Mahoney to be the new assistant general manager under new GM Brian MacLellan.

Mahoney has been serving as the team’s director of amateur scouting for the past 16 seasons. MacLellan had been the previous assistant GM under the now deposed George McPhee.

From the team’s press release:

“Ross is an excellent judge of talent and the success he has enjoyed on the amateur scouting level speaks volumes of his expertise,” said MacLellan. “He is a great asset for our hockey operations staff and someone I greatly respect.”

Before his time in Washington, Mahoney was a scout with the Sabres and Canucks. Now he’ll be MacLellan’s right hand man and will look to get owner Ted Leonsis’ team back on track. The Capitals have a bit of work to do this summer to get the team back to the playoffs.

The Capitals are sticking with chemistry with their hirings of late. They signed Mitch Korn, formerly of the Nashville Predators, to be the new goaltending coach and work alongside new head coach Barry Trotz.