Caps lose another member of Stanley Cup squad

Ben Krimmel
July 01, 2019 - 5:35 pm

People come, people go, that's the way the NHL works thanks to the salary cap. 

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The Washington Capitals lost another member of the 2018 Stanley Cup squad when forward Brett Connolly signed with the Florida Panthers Monday. 

"I'm happy for him," Caps general manager Brian MacLellan told Chad Dukes Monday.

"I think he came in at his career low-point. And we took a chance on him and he came in and over the three years he just slowly got better and got more confidence and increased his production every year. And I think it resulted in what happened for him at the end of this year right in this free agency period."

"He established himself in this league as a goalscorer and he got rewarded for it," MacLellan said about Connolly. "So I'm happy for him, but at the same time, you would like to keep him around and keep it going. I get what it's about." 

Connolly adds his name to the list of Cup winners with the Caps to depart this offseason following Brooks Orpik's retirement and Washington trading Matt Niskanen to the Flyers and Andre Burakovsky to the Avalanche

The Capitals general manager told Dukes it is difficult to let those guys go, but moves the organization had to make.

"I've become attached to players we've had and players we won a championship with," MacLellan said. "It's hard to move Niskanen. It's hard to see Orpik retire. You know, it's five years we've had them on our team, there's a sense of loyalty there, especially when you win a championship. I mean, you don't like to see players leave.

"You know it wasn't fun to see (Jay) Beagle leave, you know, (Philipp) Grubauer and Burakovsky are both good young players that, you know, we won with, really good guys. And they're looking for increased opportunities, so it's tough to see them leave."

But MacLellan is still happy for his former players.

"We're happy that Connolly got a good contract and probably an increased role," he said. "But, you know, when you win you want to hang on to the guys and keep it going and have the same experience. As it evolves I think you have to make some difficult decisions and try and do the best that you can and bring in the best players that you can find."

Brett Connolly thanked the Capitals and the fans in a tweet Wednesday: "You all will forever have a special place in my heart."

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