Mar 22, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) controls the puck ahead of Washington Capitals center Chris Brown (67) during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

NHL rumors: Washington Capitals to pursue top defenseman

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The Washington Capitals hope to make a splash by aggressively pursuing a top defenseman this offseason, new general manager Brian MacLellan told reporters, including CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley, on Monday.

Coming off a disappointing 2013-14 campaign that saw the team miss the postseason for the first time in years, the Capitals fired both head coach Adam Oates and longtime GM George McPhee to shake up the franchise. McPhee had been in charge for 17 years without winning a Stanley Cup in the nation’s capital, and finally the team decided to make a change by hiring MacLellan.

With two top-level forward leading the top line in Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, it’s unsurprising that MacLellan’s first big move would be to add depth on the back end. Mike Green remains one of the better offensive-minded defenseman in the league, but more depth at that position would a logical way of improving the roster.

However, free agency doesn’t appear to offer many strong options, as ESPN’s Top-25 list of available players includes only two players in the Top-10, Dan Boyle and Matt Niskanen. There will be other options, including Andrei Markov, Brooks Orpik, Kimmo Timonen and Andrew McDonald, but elite defenseman aren’t plentiful on the open market.

That could lead Washington to the trade market, though it’s unclear which players might be available that fit the team’s interests. Trading Green, a player rumored to be on the way out in the past, doesn’t seem likely with the new management, though.

“I guess I’m open to trading anybody,” he said. “But as of right now I think we’d like to bring Mike Green back.”

So the Capitals will at least have Green, a two-time All-Star and Norris Trophy runner-up, but he’s been around for a while and could use a top-level partner. Someone like John Carlson, Karl Alzner or Dmitri Orlov could always take the leap, but it seems MacLellan would rather not be patient given some of the elite talent on hand.

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Tags: Washington Capitals