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Mark Kiszla says the Avalanche has no shot at making the playoffs this year without Ryan Miller. Adrian Dater says there is nothing to the rumors of a Stastny-Miller swap. Seems like there’s an internal feud at the Denver Post. The trade on paper makes perfect sense. Both are position of needs on each team. Both have expiring contracts at the end of the season and both have similar cap hits. Both players have seen their production decline in the past years on sub-par teams. Roy even mentioned Miller was his favorite goaltender currently playing in the NHL. Could this match be more perfect than it is?
As good as it might sound, here is why I do not believe this is going to happen before the puck drops. The Avalanche paid a hefty sum in 2011 to acquire the rights of Varlamov. Since then, management is well aware that the team they put in front of him did little to help him stack the Ws. I do not have the exact dates of his stay, but the Russian netminder was in Boisbriand in the beginning of August, training with Allaire in order to acclimate himself to a new style, one which he said he would be more than willing to try when he announced that he didn’t mind a reset. Miller for Stastny makes sense, but is also too basic of a deal. It would help the logjam at center but would create one at goaltender. Giguère, who was initially acquired to backup and mentor Varly, was extended last year to remain with the team until the end of 2014. The former management likely saw that Varly would need that extra year of tutelage before being able to have his breakout season. Allaire, who coached Jiggy to a Conn Smythe and a Stanley Cup, was hired to help Varlamov revamp his game and finally become the goaltender scouts saw in him, when they made him a former first round pick. The Islanders have tried having a three goalie rotation in the past and did not find any success that season. No one piece on the Sabres roster is worth the 1st and 2nd round picks that were sent to acquire Varly, nor would a GM pay that price right now for him. Adding Giguère in the deal would be a huge mistake in my opinion, as he was the sole true veteran on the team willing to speak out about getting out of the losing ways that has been plaguing the team, and has an NMC tied to his contract. I would not think he would accept a trade to a rebuilding team which is a few years behind where the Avalacnhe currently stand. Fixing one log jam to create another, and lose offensive production and a steady two-way performer would not help the team in the immediate future. Don’t forget Miller would have to play behind the same guys, minus a good defensive forward in the mix.
People are quick to forget Varly’s stats just last year in the KHL, during the NHL lockout. He was leading the entire league in GAA and S%, I’m pretty some amount of skill and athleticism have to be there in order to achieve that. His biggest issues are consistency and communication. The Avs have done a good job at surrounding him with people who know how to bring 100% every game. I believe they should focus on acquiring a veteran Russian d-men to help him with his communication, someone who can relate to his English shortcomings, and further help him become more comfortable communicating with his defenders and better coordinate the play in front of him.
Only if Varlamov can’t find his game before the deadline do I believe the Avs should be looking at a replacement for him. I would like to say sooner, however with a new goalie coach and a new system, this team will take a few months to fully get acquainted to the new play style, and position for some, for the wheels to be fully in motion. This also gives Stastny a chance to up his value and perhaps get a better return from him. If he is traded now, you can forget about the possibility of Varlamov flourishing this year, then trading Stastny for an established top 2 d-man at the deadline. We still have the chance at an elite netminder and better defense, instead of just an elite netminder. This is the year Varlamov must prove himself he belongs in the NHL and a #1 guy. This is his make it or break it year in Denver.
Roy wants to make the playoffs this year, but unfortunately for the fans, patience is still the key to make it and the Avalanche have the right pieces for a trade that can make them contenders for years to come. Let’s wait and see how this plays out before hitting the panic button. Pieces that fit are not always the right ones, and Miller would create more problems than he would solve.