After several days of speculation surrounding goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s future in both Washington and the NHL, the Capitals announced that they’ve traded the 23-year-old Russian to the Colorado Avalanche.
In return for Varlamov, Washington acquired Colorado’s first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft along with a second round selection in either 2012 or 2013.
This week, reports based on comments from Varlamov’s Russian agent surfaced stating that the former first-round draft pick had opted to return home and play in the Kontinental Hockey League. Although Varlamov is a restricted free agent and received a qualifying offer from the Capitals, if he had departed for the KHL, the team would have received nothing in return for one of its top young assets.
So by executing a trade with Colorado, which will still need to sign Varlamov, Washington pockets a pair of draft picks and removes itself from a murky situation.
“I think this is a better deal for us than losing the player to the KHL,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis wrote on his personal blog, Ted’s Take. “The player wanted assurances that we couldn’t make to him. I am disappointed in the overall optics here but it is always better to take the high road and we wish the player well with his new team.”
Update: Varlamov has reportedly agreed to a deal similar to Carey Price's, which is a two-year contract worth $5.5 million total.