While I love the signings of Jan Hejda, Chuck Kobasew and JS Giguere (had a feeling he'd see some time with the Avs before the end of his career), I'm still a little torn on the biggest move of the day, the trade for Semyon Varlamov. The Avalanche needed a young, talented goalie and they made the move to get him, and Paul Stastny wasn't shipped out to land him.I like that. Varlamov has the potential to be an anchor between the pipes in Denver for many, many years.
Then again, so did Craig Anderson. And Jose Theodore. And David Aebischer. And Peter Budaj. All of those guys, to some extent or the other, had an opportunity to be THE guy in Denver for the first time since Andrew Brunette drove a Saint into early retirement and all, to some extent or the other, failed. I can't really pin that on Varlamov, though.
Am I worried about Varlamov's injury history? Not really. If we're still talking about the groin two years from now, then I'll change my position. I am a little concerned, though, with some comments from Capitals' GM George McPhee after the trade:
In fact, we were close [on a contract] last weekend. The issue really was that he wanted...I think in his mind, guaranteed that he is the No, 1 guy and paid like that and we couldn't guarantee that, not with the competition that we have at that position. You really can't guarantee any player anything. They have to come in and prove themselves and earn it. Varly's a really good kid, he's a competitive kid, he's committed to being a really good player. We said come back and compete for it but he didn't seem to want to do that and the indication was that that wasn't there, then we was going to play over in Russia for a year.
There is nothing wrong with having a goalie that is extremely confident or even a little cocky. A little swagger is a good thing and you have to love a guy who wants to be #1. But when that guy is just 23 with only 78 NHL games under his belt...well, it does give me reason to pause. It sure sounds like Varlamov's opinion of his ability is higher right now than that of his GM. Or, at least that's how the guy who just traded him is painting it.
Mostly, of course, I'm worried about that #1 pick next year that the Avalanche gave up to get him. Yes, I know everyone is saying that the Avs should have just signed him to an offer sheet. And if that hadn't worked - if, for example, the Capitals matched, or if Varlamov didn't want to sign with the Avs - the Avalanche would be left holding their sticks in their hands working on Plan B and we'd be calling for Greg Sherman's job.
In the end, I'm glad they did what it took to go out and get him...but I am really getting tired of saying "gee, we sure gave up a lot to get ____" or "man, we couldn't get more for ____"? Craig Anderson netted nothing. John-Michael Liles was let go for too little. Colby Cohen? Ugh. And now we've given up a potential lottery pick for a goalie with some question marks. Much like the Erik Johnson trade, Varlamov is going to have to be REALLY FUCKING GOOD for this trade to be a fair deal. If Varlamov excels - and he can - the Avalanche are a potential playoff team and I won't mention this trade again, unless it's to praise Greg Sherman (and the guy pulling the strings, Pierre Lacroix). If he falters and the Avalanche limp to another terrible finish, then this becomes an absolute abomination of a trade.
The Avalanche continue to take big swings with the hammer to fix the holes in the lineup. Sometimes, though, repair jobs take more finesse than brute strength and this is definitely not a finesse move. The Avs are supposed to be a finesse team on the ice; I wouldn't mind seeing a little more of that finesse upstairs.