The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup, then they caught their white whale.
If you think winning the Cup is hard, try getting someone to take Brooks Orpik off your hands. It seemed like the former would never happen until the latter occurred, but somehow the Caps pulled it off.
Orpik, whose contract was way out of proportion to his play, was traded to the Avalanche last night along with Philip Grubauer in exchange for the 47th overall (second round) pick.
That might not sound like a great deal, because Grubaur has led the NHL In 5v5 save percentage over the last two years combined and is thought to be one of the best goalies currently in the NHL for converting into a starter.
The Capitals get better by removing the slow, plodding, ineffective Orpik from their lineup. He's an offensive black hole with no defensive skills to shore that up. Well past his prime, the team improves by adding a replacement player to the lineup in his place.
But the real coup here is the Cap Space, which is more valuable than even the draft pick. With the cap going up to 79.5 million, the Capitals now have over $20 million in cap space instead of just under $15.
For perspective, they could now double John Carlson's salary (it was $4 million before) and still save money in comparison to what Carlson and Orpik were combining for this year. Since Carlson + random AHL rookie is an improvement anyways, you can't go wrong here.
Amazing trade. And the Avs immidiately bought out Orpik, and now they have a starting goalie (Varlymov is too injury prone) . The rare trade that is great for both teams.
As for their draft pick, they used #31 to select Alexander Alexeyev. (aka the Russian Steve Stephens). I don't really like this pick. Alexeyev is a 'safe' pick in that he doesn't have high end talent but should be good enough to play in the NHL.
I don't pretend to know anything about late-ranked draft prospects, but just from reading up on him, he's a pretty safe pick. I would way rather take a long shot with higher potential, but that's not McLellan's style.
Overall, Caps fans should be psyched because the chances of re-signing Wilson and Carlson went up tenfold when Colorado took Orpik. Grubauer is a good player, but Holtby is a Hall of Fame level goalie and he's only 28, so you had to move Grubs.