You already know the man, but now let’s dig into Las Vegas’s new GM George McPhee’s preferred pace of the game. Skilled and fast.
During his 17 years as Washington Capitals GM, McPhee’s teams out skated their opponents to success, especially when reaching the finals in 1998. The Capitals won the Southeast Conference seven times, and made the playoffs an impressive ten times during McPhee’s tenure.
McPhee designed one of the most exciting teams in league history in 2009-10. The Capitals scored a whopping 313 goals, and finished the season as the Presidents’ Trophy winner with 121 points. McPhee’s desire to out-skate the opposition had a major impact in Washington. Skilled players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Adam Oates, and Peter Bondra all flourished under McPhee’s direction. Each considered a speedy, offensively skilled player that attacked the net. Designed to score goals, McPhee stressed the importance of fore-checking, and neutral zone play. Creating odd-man rushes, and more offensive chances. Just listen to what he said today.
I like where the NHL right now and the way the game is being played. We’ll play a brand of hockey that people like. I’ve never enjoyed that sit-back style of hockey. I don’t like it. We’ll be a team that’s attacking all the time, pressuring pucks all over the ice. I love the way Pittsburgh played this year, and they won the Stanley Cup. -George McPhee
The Capitals were competitive for most of McPhee’s 17 years as general manager. He’s widely respected in the league, and is heralded for his success drafting players. McPhee hired six coaches, mostly offensively minded, with the exception of Dale Hunter. Hunter implemented a defensive brand of hockey, that lead the playoffs in blocked shots. Hunter was brought in after Bruce Boudreau was fired in 2011. It was with Boudreau that McPhee and his system had the most success. The Capitals won 201 games, and lost only 88 with Boudreau as coach. We can expect McPhee to bring in a Boudreau type coach. A young, offensive coach that will work well under McPhee. The Capitals job was Boudreau’s first in the NHL, getting his big break after managing several successful Junior, ECHL, and AHL teams.
What you have to understand about free agents is that it’s important to add them from time to time to fill the right holes and to make your team better. But it’s all about the Entry Draft. Perception doesn’t last in terms of free agents and making a big splash in the summer. Reality lasts. To build a winner most of it’s trough the Entry Draft. -McPhee
Now the Las Vegas GM will have to build a scouting team. We discussed last week that scouts don’t have a lot of time off. Scouting is a year round job, with some brief off time in the summer. Right now is the window to speak with potential scouting candidates. McPhee will need his team of scouts, to analyze all levels of hockey over the next year. I’m sure Las Vegas pro scouts will have a seat in every NHL city this season.
They have one season to scout the league, and prepare for the expansion draft. If McPhee’s plan is to play skilled and fast than his scouts must represent his desired style. We saw Pittsburgh win the Cup this year built of speed and talent. Mike Sullivan’s revamp created the opportunity for Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and Geno Malkin to flourish, but it was GM Jim Rutherford that designed the Cup winning team. Will McPhee try and bring the style of the ’09 high-flying Capitals to Las Vegas? It would be extremely exciting.
On the good teams, the elite players are their own draft picks. I’ve been successful finding those players whether it’s at been at the top of the draft or the bottom of the first round or the fourth round we found good players and we are going to continue to do that. -McPhee
I trust him, cause the track record speaks for itself, but let’s be frank, Alex Ovechkin’s don’t grow on trees.