The Colorado Avalanche made a bold but also potentially devastating goaltending move today, acquiring Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals. But what a price. The Avs surrendered a first- and a second-round pick in order to get Varlamov, who was hurt for a big part of last year and essentially lost his starting job to Michal Neuvirth with the Caps.
Colorado was 29th overall in the NHL last season and could easily be bad again next year, meaning Washington could theoretically end up with the No. 1 pick in a draft that will feature lots of high-end talent.
It is a gamble on a couple of levels - including the concern over Varlamov's troubling and seemingly even chronic groin issues.
In the meantime, you wonder if Tomas Vokoun, the No. 1 free-agent goaltender, priced himself out of the market.
Florida essentially conceded that they'd lost Vokoun, their starter, by signing Jose Theodore to a two-year, $3 million contract. Vokoun, Scott Clemmenson and rising star Jacob Markstrom will carry the Panthers' goaltending load.
Then, after the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Mathieu Garon as the back-up to Dwayne Roloson, the Phoenix Coyotes grabbed Mike Smith on a two-year, $4 million contract to be their No. 1 man next year. Smith played for Dave Tippett in Dallas years ago and the expectation is that he can resurrect his career there, on a defensively sound team.
The Coyotes lost starter Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers last week, after they determined they couldn't sign him to a contract extension. Jason Labarbera has been inked as the back-up, but the Coyotes needed someone to play 55-plus games - as does Colorado, which traded its No. 1 Craig Anderson to the Ottawa Senators back at the NHL trading deadline.
The wild card in the mix: ex-San Jose Sharks' goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, currently property of the New York Islanders. The Islanders claimed Nabokov off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings, after he started the year in the KHL and didn't find it to his liking, for family reasons. When Nabokov refused to report, the Islanders suspended him and "tolled" the contract, meaning he owes them one additional year of service.
However, all the complicated restrictions tied to trying to trade Nabokov's rights last year have disappeared, meaning the Islanders are in a position to move him on. Detroit might be an option as well, since they are looking for a back-up goaltender. Of course, the Islanders have goaltending issues of their own and could make a second big push to convince to play there.
Just where J.S. Giguere, ex of the Toronto Maple Leafs fits in, is anybody's guess.
Then there is also Ray Emery, who finished the year with the Anaheim Ducks and had a good final month of the season, playing in place of the injured Jonas Hiller. Emery was coming off significant hip surgery and it remains to be seen if his body would hold up to the strain of the 60-plus games that most NHL starters need to play.
As for Theodore, he played last season for the Minnesota Wild, but they are going back to Josh Harding as the back-up to starter Niklas Backstrom.