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McPhee, Capitals keeping all draft options open

by Connor Mellas /

The Washington Capitals are ready for the 2013 NHL Draft, but general manager George McPhee, while saying he's keeping all options on the table, is holding his plans close to his chest.

"There are a lot of different ways to do it," McPhee said at a press conference Monday. "I really like the way we're doing it. I don't really want to give away my [definition] as to how we do that."

Despite McPhee's secrecy, he acknowledged that Washington's plans aren't set in stone, and he'll be waiting to see what happens on the floor when the draft starts June 30 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

"I'm not really married to any position; we'll get there and see what people want to do," he said. "Sometimes things come up and you can move up. How far up do you want to move is the question, what is it going to take? We'll see. I’m open to that."

The Capitals have two picks in the first two rounds, the 23rd pick in the first round, and pick No. 53 in the second. This year's draft class is touted as a highly talented group, and McPhee said he has a high opinion of the players he's spoken with.

"These kids are bright, articulate, well-mannered, and really good people," he said. "It makes you proud to be in the sport. … Out of 71 interviews there might be a couple where you say, 'I'm not sure about that guy,' but the others, they're really good people. And it's changed a lot over the years."

In addition to the draft, McPhee said he will attend to his team's impending free agents. Among that group are center Marcus Johannson and defenseman Karl Alzner, who will be restricted free agents, and center Mike Ribeiro and left wing Matt Hendricks, who will be unrestricted if not signed by July 5.

"We would always match," McPhee said of the restricted free agents. "We're not going to allow other clubs to determine who's in our lineup."

As far as his unrestricted free agents, McPhee said he would start work on their futures after the draft.

"Not right now, we'll know more after the draft," McPhee said. "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. … I wouldn't want to get locked into too many things before the draft. We'll see how things go there."

Ribeiro, 33, had 13 goals, 36 assists and 49 points in 48 regular-season games, and added a goal and an assist in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. Hendricks, 32, had five goals, three assists and eight points in 2012-13, playing in all 48 games and seven playoff games.

Whatever McPhee decides with his own players, it doesn't sound like he's going to be all that busy this offseason.

"I don't expect to be real active in free agency," he said. "I like our team."

The Capitals also announced the departure of assistant coach Tim Hunter, who will be replaced behind the bench by video coach Blaine Forsythe.

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