Following up from MHH's collective commentary on the Varlamov trade and what that says about the Avs front-office, our future and a number of other perspectives - I decided to look at other trades involving goalies since the lockout.
The principle aim of this article is to test the proposition, summarised by Seesixwhores, that "goalies are Expensive and Teams do not let them go for Nothing." I have ignored trades that involve draft picks beyond the 4th round or where the "centrepiece" is not a goalie in a multi-player trade
- Thibault for a 4th round draft pick
- Leighton (drafted in the 5th round) for Bartovic (a 2nd round pick)
- Theodore for Aebischer
- Roloson for a 1st and a conditional 3rd round draft pick
- Luongo, Krajicek and a 6th round draft pick for Bertuzzi, Auld and Allen
- Rask for Raycroft
- Denis for Norrena and Modin
- Cloutier for a 2nd round draft pick
- Tellqvist for a 4th round draft pick
- Biron for a 2nd round draft pick
- Toskala and Bell for a 1st (13th overall), 2nd and 4th round draft picks
- Vokoun for a 1st round draft pick
- Montoya (6th overall) and Marcel Hossa (16th overall) for LeNeveu (46th overall), Sjostrom (11th overall) and Gratton (undrafted)
- Mason for a 4th round draft pick.
- Garon for Sabourin, Stone and a 4th round draft pick.
- Tellqvist for a 4th round draft pick (again).
- Giguere for Toskala and Blake.
- Lehtonen (2nd overall) for Vishnevskiy (27th overall) and a 4th round draft pick
2010 to present:
- Halak (271st overall) for Eller (13th overall) and Schultz
- Salak (undrafted) and Frolik (10th overall) for Skille (7th overall), Jessiman and Pacan
- Bryzgalov for Clarkson and a 3rd round draft pick
In total, there are 21 relevant trades. The question becomes, which of these are most comparable to Varlamov? Varlamov was drafted 23rd overall and is currently 23 years old. Due to this we can strike out most of the trades involving established goaltenders. I would consider that the 4 transactions in bold are the most similar to the Varlamov trade.
In each of these situations the goalie was a young prospect (with the possible exception of Toskala), who was the second option on the team (Price over Halak, Pavelec over Lehtonen, Lundqvist over Montoya, Nabokov over Toskala). Varlamov's position currently is probably more established than Montoya's at that time - so this would dictate that the return should be higher than this. Likewise, Lehtonen, despite having played more games for Atlanta (R.I.P) had a more extensive injury history than Varlamov has had. Nevertheless, a prospect who was drafted in the 1st round was still received for him.
This leaves the Toskala and Halak trades. Toskala was 28 or 29 at the time he was traded and had played 114 games in the NHL. Varlamov is 23 and has played 59 games in the NHL. However, Varlamov still has plenty of time to improve - whereas Toskala had reached his ceiling at this point (as was illustrated by his subsequent decline in play). Despite this, Toskala got a return in excess of what the Avs surrendered to the Capitals.
However, Halak is probably a better comparison here. He was 25 at the time and had played 101 regular season games. Again, you can make the point that Varlamov is younger, but Halak is more proven as a goaltender. But still, Halak got a quality prospect which was drafted in the 1st round.
In conclusion, when you are trading for prospects of Varlamov's calibre - history dictates that a first round prospect or draft pick goes the other way. Goalies are expensive.
Did we pay too much? Maybe. But one look at the Avs history of draft and developing goalies, makes you doubt Calvin Pickard or any other goalie in the Avs system is likely to be the long-term solution in net.