Vadim Shipachyov is a 30-year-old with three games of NHL experience that is making $4.5 million for the next two seasons, so why would the Colorado Avalanche - or any other team - be interested in giving up assets to acquire him?
Shipachyov is good - but is he NHL good? We don’t know that yet.
When the Vegas Golden Knights were building their team this past summer, General Manager George McPhee was looking to explore different avenues beyond the expansion draft. Signing the 30-year old KHL star was one of them.
When Shipachyov chose the Golden Knights, it was seen as a coup for the expansion team - though it was evident that the move was driven by money. Vegas offered him $4.5m over the next two seasons to uproot his young family from Russia and come to the NHL. Now, it looks like both sides regret the move.
The NHL’s biggest early-season success, 7-1 LV, gave Vadim Shipachyov’s reps permission to look around for a trade. Just hasn’t been a fit— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 25, 2017
After starting the season in the AHL, Shipachyov has played only three games for the Golden Knights this season and now, it’s being reported that his agents are looking for a trade after his most recent demotion. The team is having success and he isn’t a part of it - despite many believing he has the talent to be an NHL regular.
Who is Vadim Shipachyov?
The 30-year old center has played the last four seasons with SKA St. Petersburg where he dominated the KHL. Last season was the best of his career. He produced at the highest rate in the league putting up 26 goals and 50 assists in only 50 games. Scoring when it counts, Shipachyov has 56 points in 54 playoff games over the past three seasons. Combine that with his dominance at the past two World Championships and it’s very clear this is a player that has elite offensive talent.
Should the Avalanche be interested?
Like with Nail Yakupov this past summer, this would be a low-risk move with a potentially high reward. With a 5-4 record, the Avs have been exceeding expectations this season, bringing in another elite offensive threat would add a little more depth to a team that relies heavily on scoring from a handful of players.
Part of the issue in Vegas seems to stem from Shipachyov’s struggles to adjust to a new lifestyle - both on and off the ice. Moving his family from Russia is hard in the first place, now it’s being complicated by the constant shuffling back and forth to the AHL team in Chicago. Given how many Russians are already on this Avalanche team, one would assume that a move to Denver would help to aid in the transition process culturally.
You wouldn’t want to give up much in return but for a team that is looking to establish legitimacy, Shipachyov would help a lot.
Where would he fit?
A creative playmaking to slot in behind Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene could create a third line that is a threat to score on any shift. Alex Kerfoot, J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost (when healthy) are all centermen but have proven capable of playing on the wing in the NHL.
Slot Shipachyov between Kerfoot and Compher and you have the makings of a pretty great third line. Or better yet, leave Kerfoot at center and put A.J. Greer or Jost on that line. This would give you the added bonus of knocking Carl Soderberg out of the lineup when everyone is healthy - and that’s never a bad thing.
How much would he cost?
With all the reports of a potential trade, there hasn’t been much talk of what Vegas would be looking for in return. Given that he’s on his way to the AHL and just wants out of Vegas, it’s hard to see George McPhee expecting much from a trade partner.
We know he wants draft picks to help set up the future of his expansion team and at this point, he likely just wants to get out from under the contract. The 2019 second round pick and organizational depth player like Rocco Grimaldi would likely be enough to get it done. That’s a very reasonable price for someone with the talent Shipachyov has.
Speaking of the contract, it’s a pretty bad one - the second year at $4.5m hurts, but luckily the Avs are one of the few teams that have the cap room for it. With nearly $21m to play with for next seasons, that extra term wouldn’t be as big as negative to Joe Sakic as it would to most other teams.
It’s worth the risk
Assuming the price isn’t too high, this is something Joe Sakic should definitely be putting a lot of time into. This team isn’t just trying to build out of the basement, they’re trying to regain legitimacy in the NHL.
The Avalanche don’t exactly need another forward that might have trouble away from the puck - they already have their share of those - but at this point in the team’s growth, these kind of low-risk moves are the ones that are worth making.