Colorado Avalanche got a Good Deal with Grubauer Signing

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 27: Washington Capitals Goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day on May 27, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 27: Washington Capitals Goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day on May 27, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche set themselves up for the future with their draft-day moves. Do Washington’s contracts have significance for the Avs?

The Colorado Avalanche made a trade on Draft Day, sending over a second-round pick (their #47) along with an agreement to be a salary dump for defenseman Brooks Orpik in exchange for goalie Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals promptly used the extra cap space to sign defenseman John Carlson to an eight-year contract with an $8 million yearly cap hit. (I’ll comment on that below.)

The Colorado Avalanche promptly signed Grubauer to a three-year contract worth $3.33 annually. They also put the 37-year-old Orpik on waivers in the first step of the buyout process. He cleared waivers, so it’s expected the Avs will buy out the remaining year of contract, worth $5.5 million. His had been a five-year contract.

To my mind, this is a good deal for all involved. Perhaps less so for Orpik, who presumably wants to play more hockey. But at least he gets his salary. Plus, a team may take him on for a year at a discount — there’s even talk that the Caps sign him for that discount.

Let’s see how well we did and the implications for both signings.

Philipp Grubauer Signing

Just finishing his fourth year as GM, Joe Sakic has gotten contracts figured out. He doesn’t fling lucrative, three-year deals at aging veterans like a barker at a carney anymore. Though a three-year deal, Grubauer’s is relatively modest, and he’s hardly a vet at 26.

What’s more, he seems to have made the statement that Grubauer is the future of Colorado Avalanche goal tending. He has stated that the Avs now have “two number-one goalies” in Grubauer and Semyon Varlamov. At minimum, that sends the message that Varlamov will have to fight for his starting spot.

That’s good. Varly plays especially well when he’s got competition for the number-one spot. And Gruby (Is that what we’re going to call him?) has spent his while career as a backup — he’s been clear he’s chomping at the bit for the starter spot.

At worst, we’ve got two competitive goalies every night fighting to prove he’s the one who deserves the starting spot. At best, we have a solid goal tending tandem again.

Craig Custance of The Athletic added a little filip to the situation:

The 30-year-old Varlamov has a year left on his contract. The 30-year-old (in 6 weeks) Jonathan Bernier is a UFA. I don’t see the reason to trade Varlamov to make room for Bernier. He was excellent last year, but so was Varlamov when healthy. We all know Varly can steal games — now we’ll get to see if Gruby can, too.

That said, I think the writing is on the all that the Colorado Avalanche will be parting ways with Varlamov. As I noted in previous posts, the core of the team is young, and it’s doubtful Varlamov has enough years of spectacular play left in him to wait for them to reach their peak.

The Avs have also created a nice stable of goalie prospects. The Avs haven’t qualified the 23-year-old Spencer Martin yet, though I expect they will.

Even without him, though, they have their new signee, Pavel Francouz. Colorado also has Adam Werner, whom they drafted two years ago and Petr Kvaca from last year’s draft. Both are still playing in their native Europe.

Colorado also drafted not one but two goalies this year —  Justus Annunen in the third round and Shamil Shmakov in the seventh. Both are slated to return to their native European countries as well. However, with all these goalie prospects, the Avs are sure to have some decent depth at the position.

It also appears we need to keep an eye on Washington since they keep developing our goalies in their system — Varlamov came to us from them via trade.

John Carlson Signing

More from Mile High Sticking

When I saw how much Washington signed John Carlson for, I thought, “Whoa, they know he’s John Carlson, not Erik Karlsson, right?” Then I looked at his stats and saw he earned 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists) last season. His lowest points total, besides the lockout year was 32 — as a defenseman.

In other words, he pert near is Erik Karlsson.

That also means the real EK, who has one year left on a seven-year contract with an AAV of $6.5 million, will be looking at a significant pay raise in his next contract. If the Faux Carlson got $8 million, EK might expect $10 million.

Do I think the Caps are going to eventually rue the day? Yes. The term at that cost is ridiculous. Carlson is 28, so he’ll be 36 when the contract is up. I somehow think Washington will be buying out one or two years or attaching him to a deal as a salary dump.

Maybe we’d better start paying attention to goalies the Caps draft as our next star — they got Mitchell Gibson this year. Could he be the next Grubauer?

Anyway, ruing the day aside, the Carlson contract made me think about Tyson Barrie. Barrie doesn’t put up quite the same kind of numbers Carlson does, though they’re not that far off. For full seasons, Barrie’s points production has been between 38 to 57 — not far off at all.

Tyson Barrie has two years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, which is more of a discount than the perceived quality of what he offers might be worth. Plus, Barrie is only 26.

The Avalanche have their young stable of defensemen with Sam Girard getting ready to enter his second NHL year and Conor Timmins expected to make his NHL debut next season. And it’s expected Cale Makar will join the team at the conclusion of his sophomore year at college.

So, could the Colorado Avalanche start dangling Tyson Barrie as trade bait? Absolutely, especially if Girard and/or Timmins find their scoring mojo at the NHL level. I think we could see Sakic, who’s proving a shrewd deal-maker, making a trade deadline deal sending Barrie to a contender for picks and prospects.

Next: Analysis of Draft Rounds 4 to 7

In any case, the latest of Sakic’s shrewd deals is working out well for the Colorado Avalanche. We’ve got one more way to augment our team for next season — Free Agency Frenzy — then we’ll spend the majority of the offseason dreaming about the year — years — to come with our young team.