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McPhee talks NHL Draft, free agency

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Caps GM George McPhee sat down the the media today for almost 25 minutes to discuss a variety of topics. Chief among them was the draft, which is Friday and Saturday in Ottawa, and his free agents as July 1 approaches.

Per his usual stance, McPhee did not have a lot to say about the free agents, but he did assert that he still wants Cristobal Huet back (no big surprise) and the Caps would likely match an offer sheet for RFA Mike Green “within 10 minutes.” This is also not a surprise, but it could also be some posturing by McPhee. Obviously the Caps want to keep Green, and he might be trying to discourage other GMs from pursuing an offer sheet if they know he won’t hesitate to match should the situation reach that stage.

As for the draft, McPhee said the Caps would look for the best players available and trying to draft for need that far down in the draft is not a good idea. The Caps have eight picks total, including the 23rd pick in the opening round, and then picks No. 54, 57 and 58 in Round 2 (they have No. 54 instead of No. 53 because of the Blake Wheeler compensation pick for Phoenix).

McPhee was asked specifically about Anton Gustafsson, a familiar name to Caps fans because of his dad, Bengt; Gustafsson is ranked No. 24 by the The Hockey News, but he had an injury-filled season in Sweden. McPhee said he only saw him play once in person, and “he wasn’t very good.” McPhee also said he was told Gustafsson, a 6-foot-2, 194-pound center, was playing hurt that day. Don’t discount this as another bit of gamesmenship. If any NHL team has an advantage in scouting Gustafsson, it is the Caps. Also remember, McPhee did not dismiss all of the pre-draft talk about Alexei Cherepanov last year because he was content letting everyone believe the Caps were going to take the Russian enigma.

- Corey Masisak

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