Semyon Varlamov

A look back at the Washington-Colorado Varlamov trade


The Colorado Avalanche raised some eyebrows last summer when they acquired goaltender Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals for their 2012 first round pick and a second round pick in 2012 or 2013. Colorado was taking a huge risk, not just because Varlamov was young and still largely unproven, but because the Avalanche were coming off a 68-point campaign and that first round pick could end up being very valuable.

It might be several years before we know who won this trade, but the Avalanche can at least breathe a sigh of relief: the nightmare scenario did not happen. While the Avalanche will participate in the draft lottery, they are currently projected to hand the Capitals the 11th overall pick. If they win the lottery, then Colorado can only move up to the seventh pick. Either way, Washington is getting a great pick and it’s a net gain when you consider that the Capitals grabbed Varlamov with the 23rd overall pick in 2006. Plus, there’s still the second rounder that Colorado owes Washington.

All the same, this isn’t shaping up to be a repeat of the Phil Kessel trade between Toronto-Boston which led to the Bruins getting, amongst other players, Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft.

The other factor that makes this trade bearable for Colorado is that, so far, Varlamov has worked out. Varlamov certainly went through a rough patch and at one point it even looked like Jean-Sebastien Giguere might claim the starting job, but Varlamov worked through it and was dominant in the second half of the season. It looks like Varlamov could be the Avalanche’s top goaltender for years to come.

We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for Varlamov and what becomes of the players the Capitals’ draft with Colorado’s picks, but for now, it looks like it might end up being a win-win trade for these two squads.

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

John Tortorella

Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.