Goaltender Philipp Grubauer signed a three-year contract worth $10 million ($3.33 million AAV) with the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Grubauer was sent to the Avalanche along with defenseman Brooks Orpik from the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick in the NHL Draft on Friday evening. Grubauer, 26, could have become a restricted free agent on July 1.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) June 23, 2018
Earlier in the day, the Avalanche put Orpik on waivers to buy out the final year of Orpik’s contract. He had one year left with a $5.5 million cap hit. Orpik, 37, will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Grubauer went 15-10-3 with a 2.35 goals against average and a save percentage of .923. The 26-year old German netminder was arguably the NHL’s best goaltender from Thanksgiving to the end of the regular season, posting a save percentage of .937 and a goals-against average of 1.93. Grubauer, who was drafted by the Capitals in the fourth round in 2010, went 15-5-2 in that span and won over the starting job from Braden Holtby after he went through a 1-5-2 stretch. He posted a 43-31-11 record in 101 career games with the Capitals with a 2.29 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
Statistically, Holtby had the worst season of his career with a career-high 2.99 goals against average and a career-low .907 save percentage. But after Grubauer allowed eight goals in the first five periods of Round 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Holtby replaced him and never looked back en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Holtby posted 16-7 record with a save percentage of .922 and a goals-against average of 2.16.
Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan said after Round 1 of the NHL Draft on Friday in Dallas that Pheonix Copley will likely be the backup to Holtby in 2018-19. Copley, who was traded to Washington along with Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues at the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline, posted a .896 save percentage and a 2.91 goals against average. He was limited to 41 games with the Hershey Bears last season due to injury.
In 2016-17, Copley posted a .920 save percentage and a 2.31 goals against average in 25 games with the Chicago Wolves, the Blues’ AHL affiliate, and a .931 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average with the Bears after he was dealt. He was traded to the Blues by the Capitals along with forward Troy Brouwer, and a 2016 third round pick for forward T.J. Oshie.
Grubauer will likely split time with former-Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov in Colorado. Varlamov went 24-16-6 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.68 goals against average in 51 games but has been plagued by injury through his tenure in Denver. Varlamov has played no more than 57 games the past four seasons and was limited to 24 in 2016-17. He has played at least 60 games in a season only once in an Avalanche sweater. That was in 2013-14 when he led the league with 41 wins and had a 2.41 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. Varlamov, 30, was a Vezina Trophy finalist that season.
The Capitals selected Varlamov 23rd overall in 2006 and played parts of three seasons in Washington, playing no more than 27 games in either of them. During his tenure with Washington, he had a record of 40-22-12 with six shutouts and a save percentage of .916.
By Harrison Brown