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As hockey’s offseason looms, Capitals don’t expect to make much noise

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Hockey's offseason is about to get cranked up, but Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee doesn't expect his team to do too much shuffling this summer.

"We made a lot of our moves during the season," McPhee told reporters Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

That included extending the contracts of top goaltender Braden Holtby and defensemen Steve Oleksy and Jack Hillen, and acquiring winger Martin Erat from Nashville at the trade deadline.

With the amateur draft looming Sunday and free agency set to begin July 5, the Capitals are focused on their future first before they turn to tying up remaining loose ends on the current roster. Along those lines, McPhee said he wouldn't spend too much time addressing unrestricted free agents Mike Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks until after the draft.

"I don't like to do too many things before we go to the draft, because you want to maintain some flexibility and know everything that's out there," McPhee told reporters. "We've made a couple big moves at the draft the last couple years — [acquiring Troy] Brouwer one year, Ribeiro last year — so I wouldn't want to get locked into too many things before the draft. We'll see how things go there."

Trades have been McPhee's preferred method for adding bigger pieces, from the aforementioned moves during previous drafts to the Erat deal. But don't expect the Capitals to use backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth as a chip in any deal.

"We're not interested in trading him," McPhee said. "As we've often said, it's the most important position in the game and we've got two good ones there, and a couple of good kids down below in Hershey. So we don't want to weaken that position. Goalies get hurt, goalies can be off their game for a little bit – why not have as many good ones as you can?

"So let's see how this year goes and we'll go from there. They're both good goalies and I think you need both of them. It's hard to go with one for 60-70 games. We'll see how that goes, but I don't anticipate doing anything there on the trade front."

One player who likely will be dealt, though, is Jeff Schultz. The defenseman asked the team for a trade in mid-March, according to a May 30 report by the Washington Examiner, and McPhee isn't inclined to stand in the veteran's way.

"We've told our players over the years, if you don't want to play here, we'll move you – it's that simple," McPhee said. "This is a great place to play, a great place to live and work, great fan base. If you don't want to play here, that's fine, we'll move you along."

Schultz didn't appear in a game after March 31 and is seeking more playing time. McPhee understands the player's rationale but didn't seem pleased it was Schultz's agent, Jarrett Bousquet, delivering the message.

"I respect a player when he comes and sits down and the office and tells me face-to-face. I don't want to hear it from an agent," McPhee said. "If you want to be traded, come tell us. I don't like it when a player says, 'If I'm not playing here, I'll play someplace else,' because it's not that easy, and if you were playing better, you would be playing here.

"There's a lack of loyalty in some respects, that if you're not getting what you want here, you can just pick up and leave. Because it's not that easy. We've invested time and money and everything else trying to develop you. But if you get to the point where you're not playing and it's not a fit in your mind, I understand it. It's not the end of the world for us."

Turning to other players still under the Capitals' control, McPhee said restricted free agents Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson won't be going anywhere, even if other teams put in offer sheets on them.

"We would always match," he said. "We're not going to allow other clubs to determine who's in our lineup and not in our lineup. We would match and adjust in another way."

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