It has been a topic of hot debate among Colorado Avalanche fans and pundits, the question of who the Avs should protect in the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft from the new Las Vegas Golden Knights team. The Avs can only protect one goaltender, so either Semyon Varlamov or Calvin Pickard would have to be exposed.

The goalie that will be protected, BSNDenver has learned, is Varlamov.

The Avs still consider the Russian, who missed the second half of this past season from hip surgery, their “No. 1 goalie” and therefore believe he should be protected over the younger, cheaper Pickard. Varlamov, 28, who is expected to make a full recovery from the hip procedure and resume skating soon, still has two years remaining on a contract with a $5.9 million cap hit.

Pickard, 24, has one year left on a contract paying $1 million. He could be an attractive choice for the Golden Knights, considering his age, contract and potential. But, while he showed flashes of excellence at times playing on a bad team this year, his overall body of work following the Varlamov injury probably was mediocre at best. So, it seems certain going into next fall’s training camp, that Varlamov will be back to having No. 1 status in net.

The decision to protect Varlamov could change if he doesn’t heal as well as expected, but that is highly unlikely and, besides, Las Vegas probably wouldn’t want to select a damaged-goods goalie anyway.

The Avs must submit their list of players exempt from the draft by June 17, with Las Vegas making their picks on June 21. The Avs can protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters (forwards and defensemen) and one goalie.


Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic met for coffee Tuesday with University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher and a “family adviser”, and while no contract was signed by the Hobey Baker winner with the Avalanche, the two are expected to talk again next week.

The Avs expected Butcher to take his time on thinking it over, so there is no animus just because he didn’t sign right away. The Avs called the meeting “very positive” overall. If Butcher, who was drafted 123rd overall by the Avs in 2013, declines to sign with the Avs, he will become an unrestricted NHL free agent Aug. 15.



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.

  • bd15

    Who is your source?

    • Adrian Dater

      Ever seen “All The President’s Men?” Reporters don’t reveal sources if they don’t want to be revealed.

      • bd15

        I agree with other posts that it would be a devastatingly stupid decision. Why protect a goalie that Vegas is definitely not going to take? I hope this article is a joke.

      • Luke Henderson

        That’s all well and good but you have to say ‘a source told BSN’ or something like that. Otherwise it just seems like you’re making it up.

  • jpwheels

    This article is a bit hard for me to follow.
    It starts by stating that the Avs will protect Varly for the expansion draft. And then is goes on to state that “Las Vegas probably wouldn’t want to select a damaged-goods goalie anyway.”
    If that’s the position of the Avs’ management and they believe it, why would they protect him?

    • Adrian Dater

      I said in the story that the injury scenario is “highly unlikely”. But if he did suffer some serious setbacks, then it might be possible they still expose him. Either way, Varly isn’t going to Vegas

  • Matt Evans

    I just have to say hopefully your source is dead wrong or has separated from the organization by the time that decision comes around (Assuming the source’s name is Joe Sakic). Why would we want to protect a goaltender that has had severe injury problems the last 3 seasons, has effectively only had one good full season his entire career, and is massively overpaid with two years remaining on that horrible contract? Las Vegas’s GM would have to be stupid to take Varlamov with his record – especially over the previous three years – even if he hadn’t finished the season with injuries and a surgery that he may never fully recover from. However, given the level of talent of the players on the Avs that will be exposed, Vegas would probably love to snag Pickard, who has proven himself to be a reliable backup goaltender with potential to be a quality starting goaltender on the expansion team. I do agree that there is next to no potential that Varlamov is going to Vegas, but that is because I doubt Vegas would be scraping the salary cap floor such that they need the cap boost that is the only thing a player that is overpaid and of highly questionable health like Varlamov would be sure to bring.

    • Colorado_Superchronics

      Read Peardons response. The only reason wed expose Picks is to “protect” the other players that we cant protect. (if that makes sense) Vegas would be more likely to select Picks than say an unprotected grigs or Nieto. Pickard is ok, not good, not great. We are stuck with Varly no matter what, so protect him, give him confidence and hope he can have a stellar year because we cant really be worst than we were with him being relatively healthy next year.

  • Mczoo2

    Vegas won’t touch Varly, expose him. There will be others available who are more consistent at half the price. I believe Pickard would be at greater risk as a reliable backup at a bargain price. A bit of a drag we’re obligated to protect Beauchemin, not a good use of a spot.

    • bd15

      Avs protect MacK, Duchene, Landeskog, Sven, EJ, Barrie, Zadorov, Beauch, and Pickard. You’re right, wish there was a way to move Beauch.

      • Colorado_Superchronics

        there is, buy that antique out. Id rather pay a ghost than pay him to be transparent on the ice every night. And Peardon 97 that was well said!

    • peardon 97

      Imo since the Avs will lose someone no matter what, if sacrificing Picks let’s them keep Sven, Barbs, Neito and Grigs for example. I say do it. Picks has been decent, but that’s it. A good back up. Maybe he does evolve into a true starter, but he’s already 24 , not like he’s been on a star trajectory to this point.

      The Avs are asset poor, they don’t have replacements for those skaters I mentioned, but could replace picks easy enough in FA and Martin is their goalie for the future .

  • Randy

    This is roughly the equivalent of handing a massive contract to Brad Stuart after San Jose realized he was washed up. I assume we’ll win the draft lottery and trade the top pick to Arizona for Zbynek Michalek.

  • Durdles

    This is not encouraging.