2023 NHL Trade Deadline
GM MacLellan Met With Ovechkin To Discuss Capitals’ Trade Deadline Plans
Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan met with captain Alex Ovechkin to give him a heads up about the team’s trade deadline intentions and sell-off.
Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan faced a tall task going into the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, where he had to sell for the first time in his D.C. tenure with the team facing struggles and the harsh reality of being a non-contender. And not only was it difficult for him, but it was difficult for the team, leading him to give captain Alex Ovechkin an explanation of the team's plans.
As ESPN's Greg Wyshynski reported back in December, Ovechkin told owner Ted Leonsis that he did not want to be part of a rebuild and wanted the team to remain a Stanley Cup contender while he chased down the all-time goals record over the course of the five-year extension he signed in 2021. Leonsis promised that wouldn't be the case, but since then, things have taken a turn for the worse.
Following a surge in December, Washington started to spiral, experiencing inconsistency and falling out of playoff position. There have been multiple opportunities for the team to right the ship, but it just hasn't happened amid struggles at both ends of the ice. With 19 games left in the season, the Capitals remain four points out of playoff position, leading to MacLellan having to sell at the deadline.
"I think we had to make some tough decisions, you know probably a little sooner than we would have liked to have made them, but we had to make them when we made them," MacLellan explained. "We had some good guys, some good players that we didn't really want to part with, but we ended up parting with because I don't know that we were showing the consistency that we needed to show to become a team that was going to go for it. So I think we had to straddle a line of what's best for the future, what's best for our team in the future and try and still add players and stay competitive."
So with the deadline looming, MacLellan pulled Ovechkin aside to go over his intentions as the team started to shift the focus to next year with Washington's playoff hopes dwindling.
"I met with Ovi just to tell him what I thought would happen down the stretch here just so he's getting a heads up and the reasons why it was going to happen and what we hoped to accomplish," he explained.
For Ovechkin, he wasn't necessarily happy to see the sell-off unfold, as he said goodbye to longtime teammate and friend Dmitry Orlov, as well as Garnet Hathaway, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller and Erik Gustafsson. At the end of the day, though, Ovechkin was aware of the gravity of the siutations and came to term with the fact that things were out of his hands, and all he could do was focus on his play and helping the club find success.
"Well, we're players. It's a business. We all understand the situation so we just have to do our job, play hockey, try to win some games" Ovechkin said. "It's not in our hands. If something happens, it happens, you know? Unfortunately, with this situation that happened with us, we lost good players, good guys. But how I said, it's not up to us."