BALLSTON, Va. - After not making any trades before Monday's trade deadline, Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee addressed the media to explaining his reasoning.
"We weren't interested in moving anyone out of here and we didn't," McPhee said. "We would have added something to the team if we thought it would make us better, but it had to make us better. What transpired today, there wasn't anything there that would have been the right thing for our club."
McPhee said that the Caps had been on the phone fielding offers for about a week, seemingly talking to every other team "10 or 15 times." Yet, none of those talks yielded any sort of return. According to McPhee, that happened because most teams are still in the hunt for a playoff berth and were looking to add as opposed to giving up assets.
"The theme of this year's deadline was everybody wanted to add and there was no one selling," McPhee said. "There were probably three or four sellers and a couple of them are in our division, so it wasn't like we were going to able to do much with them. Everyone seemed to want our players, but they wanted to give us futures and prospects and I wasn't interested in doing that."
Perhaps the two biggest names reportedly available from Washington were Mike Knuble and Roman Hamrlik, who have both been healthy scratches recently. Even if those two have been sitting out, McPhee understood their importance to the Caps and ultimately decided to keep them.
"I wouldn't expect anyone to be happy sitting out," McPhee said. "We have to make tough decisions on who's in and who's out. The bottom line is we need everybody and we’re going to need them. It’s not as if people volunteer to sit out."
Early Monday, the Caps placed Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve to clear nearly $7 million in cap space. McPhee acknowledged that that move was more of a preemptive one in case a deal presented itself, but that was obviously not the case.
Speaking of Backstrom, McPhee did not have an update on Backstrom, who has been out since January 3 with a concussion, saying that while he hopes that Backstrom will be able to come back this season, he does not know at this time.
The Caps have 20 games remaining in the regular season and sit in ninth place entering Monday's action. The Caps had Stanley Cup expectations entering the season, but as it comes to a close, McPhee believes that the team as currently constructed can make a run in the playoffs.
"I certainly think we're capable of making the playoffs with this team right now," McPhee said. "If Nicky Backstrom came back, it certainly would improve our chances of being able to win a Cup. We can make the playoffs with this team and if [Backstrom] comes back, we can beat anybody in this conference."