Philipp Grubauer gets fresh start in Colorado after trade from Washington

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Goalie Philipp Grubauer
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Goalie Philipp Grubauer /

Philipp Grubauer gets a chance to compete as the number one goaltender following trade to Colorado Avalanche

Just before the 2018 NHL Entry Draft officially kicked off, the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals swung a deal.

Earlier in the day, the asking price for Philipp Grubauer was reportedly a first-round pick. By taking on the $5.5 million salary of Brooks Orpik, the Avalanche were able to get away with giving up just a second-round pick this weekend.

Grubauer, 26, started 28 games for the Capitals this past season, posting a 15-10-3 record with a 2.35 goals-against-average and .932 save percentage. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Avalanche will have to sign him to a new deal in the offseason.

Orpik, 37, appeared in 81 games for Washington. He collected just 10 points during the regular season, but his money has always been made on the defensive end. He’s slowed down over the years, but still provides a physical presence in the crease. He’s in the final year of his contract.

The Avalanche needed goaltending insurance with the health of Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov, who was acquired from Washington by Colorado in 2011, hasn’t had a clean bill of health in the last two seasons. He’s now 30 years old, and there are legitimate concerns about his durability moving forward. The Avs were forced to turn to their third-string goalie in the playoffs due to injuries. Grubauer has not proven himself as a number one goalie, but provides Colorado with a safety net if Varlamov’s wonky groin acts up again.

The writing was on the wall for Grubauer following the playoffs. He entered the playoffs as Washington’s top goalie, but was supplanted by Braden Holtby after two games. His numbers are impressive for a backup, and he’ll get a real chance to be the top guy in Colorado.

With plenty of cap space available and no plans to make big moves in free agency, the Avs could afford to take on the one-year salary of Orpik. He brings championship DNA into one of the youngest locker rooms in the league.

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The Capitals now have two picks in the second round. They weren’t going to re-sign Grubauer and needed to clear cap space for the impending free agency of John Carlson. Overall, both teams did well in this trade.