The Washington Times - June 24, 2011, 11:49PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. | Even if this was a strong draft, general manager George McPhee insisted, the Capitals would’ve been interested in trading for Troy Brouwer.

“He’s a power forward who can get us 20 goals a year and play physical, just won a Stanley Cup a year ago and is supposed to be a real good leader,” McPhee said. “We’re delighted to be able to add him to our lineup.”

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The Caps’ staff went through mock drafts and figured no difference-maker would be there at No. 26, so the team pulled the trigger on the trade to send that pick to the Blackhawks for the tough right wing with the scoring touch. The fact that they moved out of a weak first round to pick up Brouwer isn’t shocking, but it leads to questions about where he’ll fit in with Washington and how it affects the roster.

“With the way the game’s going now, you put him up and down the lineup,” McPhee said. “The way Bruce [Boudreau] coaches, he uses lots of different combinations, so we can see him playing a lot of places.”

There hasn’t been a lot of chatter about unrestricted free agent Brooks Laich returning to the Caps, and McPhee was similarly tight-lipped about that situation Friday night.

“I don’t think this is the time to talk about our free agents,” he said.

Whether McPhee is putting on a good poker face amid negotiations remains to be seen. But with Brouwer set to earn a raise from the $1.05 million he was making the past two seasons in Chicago and given his style of game, it’s worth wondering if the 25-year-old will be counted on to replace Laich or Matt Bradley.

While McPhee said he didn’t specifically look for Brouwer because of his grit, the versatile forward will add some sandpaper to this roster.

“You always welcome a guy who plays hard and plays physical,” McPhee said.