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Colorado Avalanche Blogger Roundtable Day 5: Varlamov & the Lottery


How worried are you that the 1st round pick we traded to Washington for Semyon Varlamov will end up as a lottery pick?

I was a little surprised by the responses here. Avalanche bloggers tend to be a fairly pessimistic bunch, but only a few are overly concerned.

Nic Zamora, Avaholics Anonymous: Terrified. I've had the pleasure of watching a lot of Varly over the past couple seasons. He was brilliant in the playoffs but collapsed in that game 7 against the Pens. There have also been the injuries which pop up every season. If any of those injuries happen again this season, we're screwed. Hopefully he can find a way to stay healthy because when he is healthy, he is one of the top goalies in the league.

Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: That is definitely a concern for me. You can look as far back as just 2 years ago when Toronto traded it's 1st round pick to Boston in the Phil Kessel deal (that pick ended up being Tyler Seguin) to see how that can backfire on a team. Now that's not to say that Toronto be a completely different team with Seguin. They certainly would be a lot better off if they had a player of Seguin's caliber in their lineup to play alongside some of the other young talent in their lineup.

Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: The Avs are betting that potential will be realized and very quickly with the acquisition of Varlamov. There is no doubting the risk considering the depth of the 2012 draft class. The Avs inability of developing their own goaltenders has put them in this position of having to sacrifice so much. It's hard not to be worried.

The rest of the group is all shiny and happy at the moment. Mostly.

Stephen Crociata, Mile High Sticking and SBNation New York: I do not expect the Avs 2012 draft pick to fall into the lottery but this does not calm my nerves. The 2011-12 draft is stacked and either way the Avalanche will quite possibly be haunted by that pick for years to come.

Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: Not very.

Austin, Avs Chill Zone: Not worried at all, to be honest. If anything, it's a #10 pick or higher. I don't think the Avalanche will win the west, but everyone who says it will be a lottery pick (Washington fans) doesn't pay enough attention to the team. A perfect example is the Avs team from two years ago... jumped from drafting 3rd overall to making the playoffs. I think the Avalanche will surprise a lot of teams again this year that underestimate them, just as they did that year.

Andi D, Mile High Hockey: With any move made before the season even begins, there's always going to be risk involved, especially when it includes a first round pick in a draft that's supposed to be very good. However, I think the Avs, if they can stay healthy, are at least a bubble team next year. I'd like to think they'll make the playoffs, but it's hard to tell at this point. So much is riding on new players - we don't know how quickly our rookies will adjust to the NHL or how all our new signings will mesh with the team. But even if we are as injured as we were last year, due to our off-season moves to increase our organizational depth, I still doubt we'll finish with anything within the top 5. I could see us giving up around the 15th overall pick, but if Varly continues to develop and grow into an amazing goalie over the next 3-5 years, I think the deal could still be a steal on our part. It's just too early to tell.

Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: Not worried at all. I found that the best way to stay relaxed is to not think about it at all.

Mike Chambers, Denver Post: I like the risk.

Aaron Musick, HockeyBuzz: The problem with that is the number of "ifs" involved in this season. If Mueller is healthy, if Varlamov plays well, if Duchene becomes the center he was drafted to be, if Landeskog's talent is for sure, if Giguere can stay healthy, that pick is unlikely to be a lottery pick. This team is better than they showed last season but injuries and poor goaltending killed them. The Avs will need to use their bigger, tougher defense to their advantage and concentrate on stopping goals, as much as they do scoring them. If they are healthy and Varlamov plays like a man who has a fire lit under him, that Avs should be in the playoff picture all year long.

Norbert from Austria, Eurolanche: How worried will show in the course of the season. If Avs are on the way to maybe reach the playoffs because of good goaltending of Varlamov, the Caps would not get a better pick than Nr. 14. The first-round pick will just hurt, if the Avs should finish as one of the last five teams in the NHL again, but I don't expect the Avs to finish again in this area.

Sandie Gauthier, Mile High Hockey: Surprisingly unworried. I don't see the Avalanche doing the spiral that they did last year. The team made some big changes, especially with the change in goaltending. The loss of Liles is going to sting, but they added some good solid guys and I think they'll be surprising people once again. If the team can stay healthy, which is always a big issue for the Avalanche, they'll be in the playoff hunt.

Jaye Horbay, Mile High Sticking: Ask me on June 30th 2012. Right now I'm just hoping I don't run across any Caps fans.

Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey & Avalanche Breakaway: I'm not worried at all about that pick. This team has more depth and more talent than its 2010-2011 counterpart, and the Avs have only had two top-10 picks in the history of the team. It's not like lottery picks are common-place for Colorado. Moreover, the players have something to prove. Both Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov have stated publicly that they want to show the league and their former teams that they are top-level talent. Many clubs are going to underestimate this team much in the same way they did with the 2009-2010 team. However, this is a stronger team, a bigger team and a more seasoned team. Barring the injury curse (of course), I don't expect to see this team finish anywhere lower than 10th in the West.

AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: I'm more worried it ends up being Nail Yakupov than a lottery pick in general. After an entire off-season of the NHL, and in particular obnoxious Caps fans ignorant to anything Avalanche-related, praising George McPhee up and down for his work in acquiring an uncertain long-term asset (still ignoring the second rounder) from a team guaranteed to finish in the bottom 4 of the league again, I'm ready to see the Avs, and particularly Varly, shut up the people who can't seem to look at the trade from the Avalanche perspective. That people seem to see only the first round pick in the trade and totally overlook that we filled by far our biggest need, which significantly upgraded our team instantly, is kind of amusing. If Varly is on, the Avalanche should be nowhere near the basement they finished in last season.

Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: I honestly don't care where that pick ends up. Washington isn't in our conference and we got a goalie out of the deal so it is what it is. Where that pick ends up doesn't really affect Colorado...other than we lost a first round pick.

Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: I'm very nearly supremely confident that this season won't find the Avalanche with a lottery pick. This team is back to being a wildcard. The forward core is largely the same but the defensive unit has had a facelift and the club now has two very different goaltenders to bolster their foundation. I expect the Avalanche to be more like the unpredictable team from 2009-10 than the self-destructing, woe is us team from last season. The boys also have something to prove now after all the negativity about them and you can bet that nobody, including Varlamov, wants to see Washington get any advantage from the picks that were offered.

Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: On a scale of 1-10? About a 2. The Avalanche were a pretty decent (though flawed) team for the first half of the season and faltered for two months due to various distractions (Forsberg, lack of leadership, injuries, inability to defend). With even okay goaltending, they would have been a fringe playoff contender. The 2011-2012 roster is deeper, has more talent, and a much more balanced construction. No lottery pick here, Caps fans, move along.

Adrian Dater, Denver Post: Personally, I don't think there's much difference between an 8th-place team and a 14th-place team. I know there is a tangible, final difference in the standings, but it's only a difference of a few wins every year. So, really, I think it's almost as likely the Avs will finish 8th as they will 14th. I still think they have problems on the front lines - especially when it comes to size in front of the net - and that will make being a top team most problematic. But, hey, the D will be better, and Varlamov could be a real find. If that's the case, the first-round pick isn't as big a deal. And let's not forget: the Avs had two first-round picks this year. There is a certain belief in the organization that they got a "2-for-1" deal this year, and that made giving up the first-rounder next year less of an issue.

David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: This is kind of a unique deal where the Capitals pick will be inversely dependent on the performance of the guy they traded; the better he performs, the lower the value of the draft pick Washington gets in return (and vice versa ). It's reminiscent of the Kessler trade, except Varlamov should have even more impact on the Avs' performance than Kessler did with the Leafs. The good news is that there's nowhere to go but up. Only three teams have had a worse season GAA than the Avs 3.50 last year. Oh, and the 5th worst performance was by the 2008-2009 Leafs, who improved their goaltending the next year in part by bringing on J.S. Giguere (an extremely underrated signing by the Avs this summer)

Bottom line: the Avalanche were a competitive team last year until things spiraled out of control in the 2nd half. They may not be Cup contenders yet, but they will not be a lottery team.

Oh, and while we're feeling all optimistic, Brett makes two big guarantees for the upcoming year.

Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: About as worried as I am that Tyler Arnason will be back in an Avs' sweater - It ain't gonna happen.

The Roundtable will continue all weekend long. Tomorrow we'll be asking where the Avalanche will improve next year.