After tonight’s stomping by the Colorado Avalanche, buoyed by a great performance in net by Semyon Varlamov, it’s interesting to re-evaluate that trade given what we now know. Varlamov burst on the scene with a stunning performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2008-2009 playoffs but was plagued by injuries for the next season.
Most pundits agreed that Varlamov had the best ceiling of our prospects but that injuries could persist and so George McPhee traded him for a first and second round pick from the Avalanche in 2011. However, he’s been able to stay relatively healthy and has displayed glimpses of the talent which so tantalized Capitals fans.
Given that Michael Neuvirth and Braden Holtby were in the system, it made sense to get maximum value for Varlamov. But what has that trade resulted in?
The first round pick turned into Filip Forsburg and then Martin Erat and Michael Latta. The second round pick was never used by the Caps as it was dealt to the Dallas Stars as part of the Ribero deal.
This poses an interesting question: how did the Capitals use those assets? In a sense, they did very well as they weren’t planning to re-sign Varlamov anyway and were able to get something from nothing.
However, in terms of maximizing potential, they didn’t do so well. In terms of immediate impact, Mikhail Grigorenko or Tomas Hertl both would have been better picks. While Grigorenko struggled last season, how much of that is a product of the Sabres’ overall struggles.
Take a moment to salivate over the thought of Hertl or Grigorenko centering the second line and using Erat’s and Grabovski’s salary to improve the team. You could even still have Grabovski and you still would have had Erat’s $4.5 million off the books.
In the holistic scheme of things, the trade has ended up being Varlamov, Riberio, Cody Eakin, Filip Forsburg, and a second round pick for Erat, Latta, and Grabovski. When you look at things like that, this trade looks much worse—especially considering that I am being generous with considering Grabovski an add.
You have to think that Varlamov and Eakin and a 2012 first round pick could have garnered an elite defenseman or forward. The worst thing that a GM can do is to sacrifice the future in order to make a short-term gain.
Varlamov’s trade was excellent in terms of asset management but the subsequent moves have left the Capitals cupboard dry in exchange for a year of Mike Riberio, two years of Martin Erat, a free agent signing of Grabovski, and Michael Latta. In terms of prospect management, it would likely be better to have Grabovski, Forsburg and Eakin rather than Latta, Erat, and the newest Phoenix Coyote, Ribero.
In the short-term this was a clear win for the Avalanche and it looks as if this will be a win for them in the long-term as well. The Capitals could have easily won this deal if that had drafted properly and either developed or traded the player in an efficient manner.
All in all, the Varlamov deal was a great deal for the Capitals and I would do it again in a heartbeat—despite my love of Varlamov. What I would change is the moves and deals that have taken place since then with the pieces acquired.
Such is the life of the Capitals fan.