The Washington Capitals traded goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik on Friday to the Colorado Avalanche specifically to help them keep premium defenseman John Carlson.
The Capitals received a second-round pick in the deal, but the salary cap room created was far more important. Orpik has a $5.5 million cap hit, and losing that should give the Capitals enough space to get Carlson signed. He probably would be offered $9 million per season if he goes on the open market as an unrestricted free agent July 1.
“Hopefully we can get (a new deal) done here over the next few days,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We’re really close.”
MacLellan said it was difficult trading both players because they helped the team. “It was tough trading Brooks Orpik for what he’s done for the organization,” MacLellan said. “He’s been a big part of our culture change and a big part of the room.”
The Avalanche are planning to trade Orpik or buy him out. Would the Capitals bring him back at a reduced salary?
“It’s legal,” MacLellan said. “We are open to that.”
The Avalanche are thrilled with the deal. “We wanted to make sure with our young group we had two goalies thatll make sure we have great goaltending for 82 games,” Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said.
Semyon Varlamov is Colorado’s No. 1 goalie, but Grubauer might be able to challenge him for an equal share of playing time.
The Capitals and Avalanche were winners on the first day of the NHL draft. Here are other winners and losers.
Loser: Montreal Canadiens. It feels as if we are all waiting for the Canadians to make a difference-making move, it just never comes.
The consensus is the Arizona Coyotes were the early winner in the earlier Alex Galchenyuk-Max Domi swap, and it doesn’t feel as if we should celebrate Montreals decision to take Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the No. 3 pick.
Kotkaniemi is a quality center prospect, and the Canadiens need a center. But Filip Zadina seems like a more dynamic offensive player. When you factor in his flair and cockiness, it feels as if he was born to play in front of Montreal fans.
Winner: New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. Owning the No. 11 and No. 12 picks in the draft, Lamoriello landed the second-best pure goal scorer in Oliver Wahlstrom and one of the top three available defenseman in Noah Dobson.
Loser: Fans. Several trades were expected and only one was transacted. This was projected to be an exciting draft, but the trade market was all talk and no action.
“That was kind of a boring first day or first round,” Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall said. “It’s not typical for this day.”
Winner: Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland: With the No. 6 pick, the Red Wings landed Zadina, one of the most exciting offensive players in the draft. With the No. 30 pick, they landed Joe Veleno, a hard-working, high-character center who was projected to go much earlier.
Loser: Carolina Hurricanes. General manager Don Waddell came into Friday ready and willing to make trades to shake up his roster, but he couldn’t find a trading partner who was eager as he was to make a deal. It still could happen on Day 2, but the Hurricanes were looking to make an immediate splash. The only consolation is they did get to draft winger Andrei Svechnikov, who will be a star.
“We got so many conversations going on,” Waddell said. "Ive had more talks probably at this draft than Ive had in 15 other years. It seems people are coveting their draft picks a lot more than they maybe used to because of the salary-cap era and we all need young players to move forward."
Winner: Edmonton Oilers. They drafted Evan Bouchard at No. 9 to finally land the defenseman they have needed for several years. Bouchard might have the best point shot the team has had in a decade. He’s 6-2, and it’s not unthinkable that he could make the team and work in slowly.
Loser: New York Rangers. It feels as if they should have chosen Bouchard with the No. 8 pick. Nothing against Vitali Kravtsov, who might end up being a premium NHL forward, but Bouchard is going to be a top-pairing defenseman and those are more difficult to find. The Rangers did make two other strong picks in K’Andre Miller and Nils Lundvist, both of whom will be listed among their top prospects.