Announcing goalie Semyon Varlamov will be the protected goalie in the Expansion Draft makes no sense. It’s too soon to announce that decision.
With lockers cleaned out and the Pepsi Center ice broken, the next thing Colorado Avalanche fans have to look forward to is the draft. (Well, that and getting to see some of the players at IIHF Worlds — more on that in upcoming posts.)
As we all know, this year’s draft is a two-stage process. The actual NHL Draft takes place June 23-24. The draft is preceded by the Expansion Draft for the Las Vegas Golden Knights, which takes place June 21.
Part of the process of the Expansion Draft is teams must submit a list of protected players. They have two options, but either way they can protect one and only one goalie.
Which goalie the Colorado Avalanche should protect has been a hot topic among fans. Many fans feel more comfortable with Semyon Varlamov and his talent as the number-one net minder. However, many fans cite his injuries and the fact that he’s only had one stellar season as rationale for exposing him.
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Some fans think the Avs should gamble that the Knights won’t select an injured, over-priced player like Varlamov and expose him in the expansion draft. That way they get to keep both him and Calvin Pickard.
Recently, longtime Avalanche insider Adrian Dater wrote that his new site, BSN Avalanche, “has learned” that Colorado will protect Semyon Varlamov.
Now, no sources are cited in the article. It’s true that journalists don’t have to give up sources of intel. It’s also true that Dater has earned some credibility from decades of covering the team.
However, you definitely need to take this news with a grain of salt. Teams don’t have to submit their list of protected players until June 17. There’s no reason to think GM Joe Sakic has made his decision about which goalie is being protected. Varlamov is still recovering from his season-ending surgery for a problem that has plagued him his entire career.
The Colorado Avalanche still have two months to watch how he progresses. He hasn’t even started skating yet — why would the team decide now that he’s the protected goalie when he hasn’t even laced up after major surgery?
It makes even less sense when you consider the direction the team has been moving in. Sakic has stated numerous times he wants the team to get younger with an eye toward speed. He has backed up that claim by picking up players in their early to mid 20s and posing up-and-coming players such as Mikko Rantanen (20 years old) and Tyson Jost (19 years old) as the new core of the team.
Varlamov is 28 years old. That’s not old, even by goalie standards. That is, however, a player in the center of his prime. You can only expect him to have a couple more prime years before attaching “veteran” to his status.
In other words, Semyon Varlamov is a goalie for a team that’s competitive now. Sakic’s emphasis on youth doesn’t suggest a GM who’s focusing on the now but on the future.
The only scenario that makes sense is that the Avalanche think they can get something in return for Varlamov. If Sakic thinks Varly might be a lynchpin in an upcoming deal, then he keeps Semyon.
Something needs to change with the Colorado Avalanche. There’s no way the team can keep its existing core, including Semyon Varlamov, existing coaching staff and existing front office then sell to the fanbase that they’re committed to winning. Not after a 48-point season.