As BSN first reported in April, the Avalanche indeed went ahead with the decision to protect goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft. The incoming Las Vegas Golden Knights will not be able to select the Russian goalie, nor any of the other 10 Avs players on the protected list, which was released Sunday morning.

It is thus now possible the Avs could lose young goalie Calvin Pickard to the Golden Knights, who will pick their first team on Wednesday. Under rules of the expansion draft, the Avs and every other NHL team must lose one eligible player from their roster, unless a side deal is made with Las Vegas.

The Golden Knights must choose at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies in the Expansion draft. With the recent buyout of defenseman Francois Beauchemin, the Avs were able to protect three defensemen (Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson and Nikita Zadorov)  and seven forwards (Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, Rocco Grimaldi, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto), along with Varlamov.

Left unprotected and available to Las Vegas include veterans with contracts for next year, such as Carl Soderberg, Mark Barberio and Pickard.

The protection of Grimaldi over players such as Soderberg and Mikhail Grigorenko might be seen as a surprise by some, as he has little NHL experience. But he showed well with the Avs as a late-season call-up, and Soderberg’s poor play last season and big contract ($4.75 million cap hit for three more seasons) convinced general manager Joe Sakic and the rest of team management to leave him exposed.

Here is the official protected list:

Sven Andrighetto (F)
Blake Comeau (F)
Matt Duchene (F)
Rocco Grimaldi (F)
Gabriel Landeskog (F)
Nathan MacKinnon (F)
Matt Nieto (F)
Tyson Barrie (D)
Erik Johnson (D)
Nikita Zadorov (D)
Semyon Varlamov (G)

Here are the eligible players on the Avs’ roster who will be available to Las Vegas in the Expansion Draft:

Troy Bourke (F)
Gabriel Bourque (F)
Rene Bourque (F)
Joe Colborne (F)
Turner Elson (F)
Felix Girard (F)
Mikhail Grigorenko (F)
Samuel Henley (F)
John Mitchell (F)
Jim O’Brien (F)
Brendan Ranford (F)
Mike Sislo (F)
Carl Soderberg (F)
Mark Barberio (D)
Mat Clark (D)
Eric Gelinas (D)
Cody Goloubef (D)
Duncan Siemens (D)
Fedor Tyutin (D)
Patrick Wiercioch (D)
Joe Cannata (G)
Calvin Pickard (G)
Jeremy Smith (G)


Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • Michael Vasilie

    I think Joe played this just about perfect. Nearly all these guys were obvious choices. They bought our Beauch so he could protect the guys he wanted. I’d have left Nieto off in favor of Baraberio, but that’s splitting hairs. Joe gets an “A” from me.

  • Pixelrebirth

    I believe this was perfectly executed. Varly may not be the best starting goalie, but Picks is never going to be a starter. Id prefer Barbs over Nieto as well, but this didnt seem to align well with the shape of the expansion draft the avs wanted to pursue.

    Now for the fun part, who on the exposed list do we HOPE vegas takes?

    My vote: Sods for the Cap Floor in Vegas

  • bob_w

    I do not pretend to know all the ramifications of who they chose and who they did not but why protect Comeau?

    • Pixelrebirth

      It came down to Comeau, Colbourne, or Sods…. I think they made the right choice regardless of the great nhl breakaway blunder of the century.

  • bd15

    Should have been MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog, Andrighetto, EJ, Barrie, Zadorov, Barberio and Pickard.

  • Jake

    Bottom line Sakic should be fired if Pickard is claimed. What happens if Varlamov goes down again – we’ll roll with Spencer Martin and Jeremy Smith? Look out 48 point season apparently we haven’t reached rock bottom. McPhee would have passed on Varly no question. He makes too much $, has an injury history, and McPhee traded him in the first place.