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Grubauer, Orpik traded to Avalanche by Capitals for draft pick

Colorado expected to sign goalie, buy out defenseman

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

DALLAS -- Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik were traded to the Colorado Avalanche by the Washington Capitals on Friday for a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Grubauer, a 26-year-old goalie, signed a three-year contract with the Avalanche on Saturday. He could have become a restricted free agent July 1.

Multiple media reports Saturday said the Avalanche have waived Orpik, a 37-year-old defenseman, for the purposes of a contract buyout. Sakic said Friday he told Orpik that the Avalanche will buy out the remaining one year and $5.5 million on his contract if they're unable to trade him. If bought out, Orpik would become an unrestricted free agent.

 

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"We knew the asking price was high [for Grubauer] and we had the [NHL salary] cap room that we can give cap flexibility for us to not have to give up more than we did," Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said. "A second-round pick, it's a good pick (No. 47). We still paid the price on that, but we felt it was important to get Grubauer. We just like what he can do for us."

Grubauer was 15-10-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and three seasons in 35 games (28 starts) this season as the backup to Braden Holtby.

Grubauer started the first two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs but was replaced by Holtby in the third period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Grubauer didn't play again and Holtby helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup for the first time.

"Down the stretch, to see what he did for Washington, he was a big reason that they had success and were where they were getting into the playoffs," Sakic said.

Video: NHL Tonight analyzes the Capitals/Avalanche trade

Including Orpik in the trade was important for the Capitals because they needed to clear salary cap space to try to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent defenseman John Carlson. The trade creates at least $7 million in space, because in addition to Orpik's $5.5 million charge, Grubauer was given a qualifying offer of $1.5 million.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said they are close to re-signing Carlson and the hope is they can do so before Sunday, when he becomes eligible to talk to other teams who might be interested in signing him when the free agent market opens.

Carlson led NHL defenseman with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists) in the regular season and with 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

MacLellan said the Carolina Hurricanes offered the No. 42 pick in the draft for Grubauer and Orpik, but it made more sense to trade the goalie out of the Metropolitan Division and into the Western Conference.

"Part of it is [Grubauer] wants to get to a good spot where he can have a shot being a No. 1," MacLellan said. "He thinks he's ready and he's ready for the next challenge. So we tried to get him to the best spot we could and that was good for us too."

MacLellan didn't rule out the Capitals bringing back Orpik if the Avalanche buy out his contract.

Orpik had 10 assists and was minus-9 averaging 19:22 of ice time in 81 regular-season games this season. He had five points (one goal, four assists) and averaged 16:49 of ice time in 24 playoff games.

"We're open to that depending on how much room and how much salary it would take," MacLellan said. "We'd want to put him on that third pair again."

MacLellan said Pheonix Copley will get the first chance to back up Holtby next season. Ilya Samsonov, Washington's top goalie prospect, is expected to play for Hershey of the American Hockey League next season.

"It's going to be a challenge for [Copley]," MacLellan said. "We're going to give him a shot, see what he can do, and then we've got Samsonov coming over (from Russia) to play in Hershey, so I think we're pretty good in depth."

Sakic said Grubauer will split starts with Semyon Varlamov, who has one year remaining on his contract. Jonathan Bernier, Varlamov's backup this season, is a pending unrestricted free agent.

"We just think that with him and Varly, we've got two guys that are No. 1 guys, and goaltending is going to be a strong part of our team, and that's something that you always need," Sakic said. "You can't win without it, and we feel we strengthened that position.

"The biggest thing is the players in front of them are going to believe in what's behind them, and it's going to give us the best opportunity to win hockey games."

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