27-Year-Old Goalie – Colorado Avalanche
Semyon Varlamov Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $29.5 million extension with the Avalanche in January of 2014.
Varlamov stopped 25 of 28 shots, holding off a late Winnipeg push Saturday.
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Semyon Varlamov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Playing in his sixth NHL season, Varlamov broke out in a big way in 2013-14, leading all NHL goalies in wins (41), saves (1867) and shots faced (2,013) while breaking Colorado's franchise record and finishing third in the league with a .927 save percentage. For these accomplishments, the Russian workhorse was named a finalist alongside Boston's Tuukka Rask and Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's top goaltender. It's also important to note that Varly battled through off-ice adversity starting in November, as he was brought up on domestic violence charges and accused of assault and kidnapping his girlfriend before the charges were dropped in late December. He actually spent a night in jail, but coach Patrick Roy and the Avs stood beside him and he barely missed a beat, earning a win in Dallas just two days after his arrest. Come February, Varly had backstopped the young underdog Avs to the Central Division lead, posting a 27-9-5 record with a 2.47 GAA and .924 save percentage that earned him a new five-year, $29.5 million deal -- effectively locking him in as the top dog between the pipes in Denver for the next half decade. Varlamov is sure to be one of the top goalies taken in fantasy drafts this season, but one potential concern is the Avs’ lack of a proven backup. Reto Berra, who was acquired and immediately signed to a three-year deal in March, has only 31 NHL games under his belt. The threat of fatigue or an injury impacting Varly’s game is something potential owners should be mindful of, if the unproven Berra falters in providing rest for the top netminder. However, the reward is worth the risk with a stud like this behind a high-flying Avs squad ripe with star talent at forward and on an ever-improving blue line.
Varlamov had a rather forgettable season in 2012-13, finishing 11-21-3 with a 3.02 GAA. Now, he wasn't completely to blame -- he was behind one of the worst defenses in the league. The Avs have upgraded a bit on the blue line, so he should put up somewhat better numbers as the team's starter this season. But buyer beware -- the team is still young and that will result in a lot of rubber headed Varlamov's direction. He'll make a decent second goalie, but don't rely on him as your top dog.
The Avs entered the 2011-12 season with Varlamov as their new undisputed starting goalie after acquiring him in a trade with Washington that summer. Varlamov started the season strong enough, with five wins in his first eight games, but tailed off after that, eventually yielding the starting reins to backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere for a stretch. However, after winning the starting job back in mid-February, Varly went 12-8-2 down the stretch with a 2.01 goals-against average and .931 save percentage, cementing his role as the teams’ top puckstopper coming into this season. He is still largely unproven as a starter and will have a young and relatively inexperienced squad playing in front of him, but he still has significant fantasy upside.
The Avs, who finished last season with a goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Peter Budaj, addressed a glaring need by acquiring Varlamov from the Capitals in July. Varlamov split time with Michal Neuvirth last season, posting some very respectable numbers (11-9-5, 2.23 GAA, .924 SV%) and proving that he can be relied upon as a starting netminder in the NHL. Unfortunately, he's coming to a team that averaged 31.8 shots against per game last season - eighth most in the NHL - so he'll have his work cut out for him. We don't recommend you rely on Varlamov as your starting fantasy netminder this season, but his numbers ought to be good enough for you to draft him as a solid No. 2 guy.
In 15 games, Varlamov registered a goals-against average (2.60) and save percentage (.909) that trumped Jose Theodore’s output in the same two categories during the 2009-10 regular season. Despite the promising trend, Varlamov and company were stunned in the first round of the postseason. In 2010-11, he should be involved in a two-way timeshare – which also includes youngster Michal Neuvirth - with the former getting the bulk of the starts.
The Russian rookie impressed so much late last season after filling in to give Jose Theodore some rest, that he was inserted as the starter in the playoffs after Game One of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. He is a 6-1 space heater in front of net and is quick on his skates. In five regular season starts, Varlamov was 4-0-1 with a 2.37 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Then his postseason chance came and he shined in the 13 games he started. He finished 7-6 during the team’s run, with two shutouts, a 2.53 goals against average, and .918 save percentage. The Capitals’ first round pick in 2006 is ready to be number one this year and will get his chance to battle for the spot.
The Russian product has the skills to play in the NHL soon and would add to an already stacked squad of Russians. Varlamov has a unique style in goal – not a pure butterfly nor a pure stand up goalie but possesses a quick glove hand, controls rebounds well and has the size, skill and reflexes to become a very good netminder. It is undetermined where he will play this year, but if he can make the Caps’ AHL team and play in Hershey, keep an eye for him in the coming years.
Varlamov, one of the Caps' first-round picks in the 2006 draft, has a load of talent but has struggled in representing Russia on the international stage. He's still extremely young at 19, and will likely be in a running competition with fellow 2006 draftee Michal Neuvirth over the next couple of years to see who will succeed Olaf Kolzig when he retires.
Varlamov was rated the second-best European goalie avaible in the 2006 draft and the fifth best overall by the International Scouting Service. He has great post-to-post quickness and is very athletic, something not usually associated with Russian netminders. His glove is quick and his butterfly solid, but he needs to improve his stickhandling. He played in the Russian second league in 2005-06 and flashed the rare ability to steal games, and could be a real surprise in a few years.