What will the Colorado Avalanche do with Semyon Varlamov?
Two seasons ago Colorado shocked the hockey world by being unpredictably bad. Last season, they shocked the hockey world by being unpredictably decent. The Avalanche, led by Hart finalist Nathan MacKinnon, clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the season to re-enter the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Given the Avalanche’s record of consistency lately, how they’ll play next season is up in the air. If they see their position in the standings take a nosedive in the spring, however, Semyon Varlamov could be one player moved if the Avs wave the white flag.
Varlamov is in the final year of his five-year, $5.9-million dollar deal. His play, when healthy, has been stellar, but injury has left him sidelined for considerable stretches of time, and with new acquisition Philip Grubauer set to be the Avs goalie in the long-term, Varlamov could be pegged to move. If healthy, Varlamov could be a great asset for any team’s goaltending depth, working as a more-than-capable backup or 1B option. The Avalanche could find themselves in the playoff hunt, however, in which case trading Varlamov would be ill-advised given Grubauer’s recent playoff history.
Will the Islanders trade Brock Nelson for defensive help?
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross recently observed New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to add to his blueline corps this summer. The only notable moves were “re-signing Thomas Hickey to a four-year, $10-million deal and Ryan Pulock to a two-year, $4-million deal.” Gross wondered if center Brock Nelson, recently re-signed to a one-year, $4.25-million contract and a year away for unrestricted free agent status, might be used as a trade chip to address that issue.
Could the Minnesota Wild trade Eric Staal while his trade value is high?
Eric Staal won’t have another Hart-caliber season, and he won’t shoot the puck like a Rocket Richard finalist. The 33-year-old centre might be coming off a 42-goal season, but his 17.4% of his shots aren’t likely to find the back of the net two years in a row. Despite the inevitable crash that’s due for Staal, the hype may still be there. As new Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton begins shaping his team, he should look to cash in on the veteran while the value is still there.
Staal is an aging player on the final year of a bargain three-year, $10.5 million contract that saw him reignite his dwindling career. He shouldn’t fit into the long-term plans for the Wild, or the identity Fenton should want to seek; his predecessor Chuck Fletcher already made a name for himself icing top-heavy teams of veterans. Staal will be a great secondary scoring piece for any playoff-hopeful team, and Fenton’s return could get a nice boost after Staal’s unexpected 2017-18 scoring run, depending on how quickly a trade is made.