The Washington Capitals traded defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the 47th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft Friday night.
The trade gives Washington seven selections in the draft, as well as creating more cap space to attempt to re-sign their pending free agents like John Carlson.
“Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “Brooks was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”
Grubauer, 26, was drafted in 2010 by the Capitals and made 79 starts in net for them since 2012. He went 15-10-3 with a .923 save percentage in the 2017-18 regular season, serving a crucial role while Braden Holtby was in a slump. He was due to be a restricted free agent.
MacLellan implied earlier this month that he was considering trading Grubauer because he knew the German wanted to be a No. 1 goalie for an NHL club, a future that didn’t seem likely in Washington. Grubauer will compete with Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier for the starting gig in Colorado.
Orpik, 37, was about to enter the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $5.5 million. He has played 15 NHL seasons and won Stanley Cups in both Pittsburgh and Washington; the Avalanche will be his third team.
Orpik was also one of the Capitals’ alternate captains.
The Avalanche placed Orpik on waivers Saturday with the expectation that the team will buy out the remaining year on his contract. MacLellan told reporters at the NHL Draft that the team was “open to” bringing Orpik back on a new deal.
According to capfriendly.com, the Capitals have just over $21.2 million in cap space following the trade.
The Capitals want to bring back Carlson, one of their top defensemen from last year, who led the league’s blueliners in points in both the regular season and postseason. He will be a hot commodity if he hits the free agent market.
The only danger in trading Orpik is if Carlson does not return to Washington, the Capitals will have lost their two most veteran blueliners from a year ago. Behind them, three rookies at the position — Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jakub Jerabek — all saw ice time.
Behind Holtby, the Capitals’ next option at goalie is Pheonix Copley, who has played in two career NHL games.