We kept hearing chatter all day about a bunch of trades that were supposed to be in the works and nothing came to fruition. Just as the Entry Draft was about to start, we got our first trade of the day: the Colorado Avalanche traded a second-round pick this year (47th overall) to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenceman Brooks Orpik.
What Colorado Gets
The Avs have one year left of Semyon Varlamov who turned 30 years old in April. Presumably, they didn’t want to have to re-sign Varlamov when he was going into his age-31 season and this gives them their successor in net.
Grubauer had expressed his desire to be a starter in the NHL and he was not going to get that chance with Braden Holtby around for the foreseeable future. The team said they’d look for a fit for him and they did exactly that.
Grubauer posted a very stout .923 overall save percentage in 101 appearances for the Capitals.
Now, as noted, Varlamov has a year left. I don’t think they just send Varlamov to the bench and give Grubauer 60 starts this year, this seems like a 1A/1B scenario that we’ve seen in seasons prior from teams like Dallas and Florida. Grubauer is an RFA and needs a contract so we’ll see if they decide to sign him long-term before the season starts or some sort of bridge deal. Either way, he is going to be a starter in the NHL, it just doesn’t seem likely he has the overwhelming share of starts this year unless Varlamov falls off like he did in 2016-17 (and, to be fair, the whole team did that year).
Brooks Orpik is a veteran defenceman who kind of fell off this year. The Washington team as a whole, in the regular season at least before turning it around for the playoffs, weren’t great in the defensive zone, but Orpik exacerbated this. He was brutal defensively and didn’t help much offensively. This won’t help Colorado’s team defence, which had their own issues last year. If you want to talk about how he’s good in the room and is a good mentor, then fine. I’ll concede that. He’ll be hard-pressed to help them on the ice, though, if he’s playing 19-21 minutes a night. It's going to be a tough slog for his goaltenders. He does only have one year left, though.
As I post this, Elliotte Friedman is saying Colorado will try to move him before the season. We’ll see.
What Washington Gets
Aside from the pick, the Caps get cap space needed to re-sign John Carlson. Also, it frees up the backup position for the recently signed Ilya Samsonov.
I’ll reserve saying who this helps/hurts for the Avs until we find out if Orpik is traded from the Avs. Until then:
Samsonov – Gives him a clear path to the net for Washington, albeit in a backup role.
Who this hurts
Varlamov – Gives the Avs a guy that can push him out of some starts unless Grubauer starts the season poorly.
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