Creatures of Habit: Brian MacLellan’s Familiar Business Partners

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While it may be hard to believe, Brian MacLellan has been the General Manager of the Washington Capitals for eight years. Since being named to the post held by his predecessor George McPhee for 17 seasons in April 2014, MacLellan has proven to be a pro-active and ambitious GM, unafraid to pull the trigger on major free agents and/or trades.

During his eight seasons at the helm of the Caps’ front office, MacLellan has been an active participant in trades that he hopes will fix a lineup problem, cut excess salaries, or better the team for another run to the Stanley Cup. When one examines his trading partners, however, it is obvious that “GMBM” has preferred business with a select group of NHL clubs.

Trading Partners of the Capitals Since the 2014-15 Season (per NHL Trade Tracker):

– St. Louis Blues (3)
– Colorado Avalanche (3)
– New Jersey Devils (3)
– Montreal Canadiens (3)
– Detroit Red Wings (2)
– New York Rangers (2)
– Winnipeg Jets (2)
– Los Angeles Kings (2)
– Seattle Kraken (2)
– Philadelphia Flyers (2)
– Calgary Flames (2)
– San Jose Sharks (1)
– Ottawa Senators (1)
– Carolina Hurricanes (1)
– Minnesota Wild (1)
– Chicago Blackhawks (1)
– Arizona Coyotes (1)
– Buffalo Sabers (1)
– Vegas Golden Knights (1)
– Toronto Maple Leafs (1)
– Anaheim Ducks (1)

To sum that up, it is a total of 36 trades and 21 teams. Of those 36 trades, 26 (72%) have been with the same teams two or more times.

Below we will take a look at the teams with which MacLellan has done business with two or more times and the trades conducted with each.

St. Louis Blues
Trades Made = 3

1st Trade: July 2, 2015
Capitals Trade: Troy Brouwer (RW), Pheonix Copley (G), 2016 3rd RD Draft Pick
Blues Trade: TJ Oshie (RW)

2nd Trade: June 24, 2016
Capitals Trade: 2016 1st RD Draft Pick (#26; used by STL on Tage Thompson, F)
Blues Trade: 2016 1st RD Draft Pick (#28; used by WSH on Lucas Johansen, D), 2016 3rd RD Draft Pick

3rd Trade: February 27, 2017
– Capitals Trade: Zach Sanford (F), Brad Malone (F), 2017 1st RD Draft Pick (traded to PHI by STL, used to select Morgan Frost, C), 2019 Conditional 2nd RD Pick
– Blues Trade: Kevin Shattenkirk (D), Pheonix Copley (G)

Colorado Avalanche
Trades Made = 3

1st Trade: March 1, 2017
– Capitals Trade: Cody Corbett (D)
– Avalanche Trade: Joe Cannata (G)

2nd Trade: June 22, 2018
– Capitals Trade: Brooks Orpik (D), Philipp Grubauer (G)
– Avalanche Trade: 2018 2nd RD Draft Pick

3rd Trade: June 28, 2019
– Capitals Trade: Andre Burakovsky (F)
– Avalanche Trade: Scott Kosmachuk (F), 2020 2nd & 3rd RD Draft Picks

New Jersey Devils
Trades Made = 3

1st Trade: July 2, 2017
– Capitals Trade: Marcus Johansson (F)
– Devils trade: 2018 2nd & 3rd RD Draft Picks

2nd Trade: April 11, 2021
– Capitals Trade: Jonas Siegenthaler (D)
– Devils Trade: 2021 3rd RD Draft Pick

3rd Trade: July 8, 2022
– Capitals Trade: Vitek Vanecek (G), 2022 2nd RD Draft Pick
– Devils Trade: 2022 2nd & 3rd RD Draft Picks

Montreal Canadiens
Trades Made = 3

1st Trade: June 24, 2016
– Capitals Trade: 2017 2nd RD Draft Pick, 2018 3rd RD Draft Pick
– Canadiens Trade: Lars Eller (C)

2nd Trade: February 21, 2018
– Capitals Trade: 2019 5th RD Draft Pick
– Canadiens Trade: Jakub Jerabek (D)

3rd Trade: February 23, 2020
– Capitals Trade: 2020 3rd RD Draft Pick
– Canadiens Trade: Ilya Kovalchuk (RW)

Winnipeg Jets
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: June 28, 2014
– Capitals Trade: Eddie Pasquale (G), 2014 6th RD Draft Pick
– Jets Trade: 2014 6th & 7th RD Draft Picks, 2015 7th RD Draft Pick

2nd Trade: July 26, 2021
– Capitals Trade: Brenden Dillon (D)
– Jets Trade: 2022 2nd RD Draft Pick, 2023 2nd RD Draft Pick

New York Rangers
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: June 27, 2015
– Capitals Trade: 2015 3rd & 4th RD Draft Picks
– Rangers Trade: 2015 2nd RD Draft Picks

2nd Trade: February 9, 2018
– Capitals Trade: Hubert Labrie (D), John Albert (C)
– Rangers Trade: Adam Chappie (F), Joe Whitney (F)

Detroit Red Wings
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: February 22, 2019
– Capitals Trade: Madison Bowey (D), 2020 2nd RD Draft Pick
– Red Wings Trade: Nick Jensen (D), 2019 5th RD Draft Pick

2nd Trade: April 12, 2021
– Capitals Trade: Jakub Vrana (F), 2021 1st RD Draft Pick, Richard Panik (F), 2022 2nd RD Draft Pick
– Red Wings Trade: Anthony Mantha (F)

Los Angeles Kings
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: February 15, 2017
– Capital trade: Future Considerations
– Kings Trade: Tom Gilbert (D)

2nd Trade: February 21, 2019
– Capitals Trade: 2019 3rd RD Draft Pick, 2020 Conditional 6th RD Draft Pick
– Kings Trade: Carl Hagelin (F)

Seattle Kraken
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: July 28, 2021
– Capitals Trade: 2023 2nd RD Draft Pick
– Kraken Trade: Vitek Vanecek (G)

2nd Trade: March 21, 2022
– Capitals Trade: Daniel Sprong (F) 2022 4th RD Draft Pick, 2023 6th RD Draft Pick
– Kraken Trade: Marcus Johansson (F)

Philadelphia Flyers
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: June 24, 2019
– Capitals Trade: Matt Niskanen (D)
– Flyers Trade: Radko Gudas (D)

2nd Trade: April 12, 2021
– Capitals Trade: 2021 5th RD Draft Pick
– Flyers Trade: Michael Raffl (F)

Calgary Flames
Trades Made = 2

1st Trade: March 1, 2015
– Capitals Trade: 2015 2nd & 3rd RD Draft Picks
– Flames Trade: Curtis Glencross (F)

2nd Trade: October 6, 2020
– Capitals Trade: 2020 1st RD Draft Pick (CAL used to select Connor Zary, C), 2020 3rd RD Draft Pick
– Flames Trade: 2020 1st RD Draft Pick (WSH used to select Hendrix Lapierre, C)

MacLellan has sought the cooperation of these above teams twice or more, with three clubs (NYR, PHI, NJ) fellow teams within the Metropolitan Division. A number of these trades have had significant implications for the Caps since they were made; the likes of TJ Oshie, Nick Jensen, Lars Eller, and Anthony Mantha are current members of the team’s lineup, with both Oshie and Eller playing significant roles in the team’s 2018 Stanley Cup victory. Others saw members of the team’s core depart.

What is readily apparent from the above numbers is that the Capitals’ general manager has favored players or draft picks from certain organizations when doing business with opposing GMs. A majority of the moves that MacLellan has made has been with the end goal of a (nother) Stanley Cup run in mind with a veteran core while balancing the team’s roster in a salary cap era.

Of the 21 teams, 11 (roughly 52%) have made deals with MacLellan on two or more occasions with four having done business with the Capitals on three separate occasions.

Whatever MacLellan’s approach is when looking to make trades, it is unquestionable that he is a creature of habit when it comes to his idea of ​​potential trade partners to do business with. Whether it is a closer relationship to the front offices of said teams or just a matter of the types of players the Caps covet, or purely a matter of coincidence, the trend over his eight years on the job is nevertheless interesting.

Trade Info via NHL TRADE TRACKER

By Michael Fleetwood



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