Photo by Chris Gordon, RMNB
ARLINGTON, VA - On the final day of Development Camp, General Manager George McPhee addressed the Washington media for the first time in two weeks. McPhee, who has been the subject of harsh criticism this off-season for not signing a big name free agent to replace Alexander Semin, spoke highly of Wojtek Wolski, whom he signed to a one-year contract earlier in the week.
“A former first round pick that’s had some real productive years in the League, then sort of fell off,” McPhee said. The general manager also noted that he feels Wolski will be motivated after such a poor year last year. “Last year was a lost year for him, but here’s a guy with some ability, and there’s an opportunity here. The ability is there, and I think the commitment is there as well.”
I tweeted about this when he was signed, but this is what you do in thin markets. At $600,000 for one year, this deal for a potential top-six winger is a great move. You’re not going to find bargains on standout players in this type of market, but you can hunt for talented guys coming off bad years.
“I get seduced by talent from time to time,” McPhee added. “I like it, and we have a good group of forwards that are big and play hard and this is an opportunity to add some talent in there. We like the move and hope that it works out for him and for us.”
McPhee also addressed the signing for 2012 first-round pick Filip Forsberg to a three-year, entry-level deal on Friday. He said that it was important to get Forsberg signed by September 15 so that at the end of his season in Sweden he could come over and get acclimated to the North American game in the best developmental league in the world, the AHL. Dmitry Orlov did something similar in the spring of 2011, and it helped accelerate his development.
In addition, McPhee made sure to note how impressed he was at Forsberg’s play in camp, along with fellow first-rounder Tom Wilson.
“I like him a lot,” the GM said of the Swede. “Really competitive kid, strong on the puck, and certainly got some development to do, he and Wilson. They have the intangibles, they want to be out there, they want the puck, and for 17 years old, they are doing really well.”
It does not seem likely that either Forsberg or Wilson see NHL time next year – both because it would force them to burn a year of their entry-level deals, which are very valuable, and also because they may not be ready, especially Wilson. McPhee said when he drafted Wilson that he needed some serious development to get to the type of player he wanted him to become, and one week at Camp does not change that.
Read more on the final day of camp here.