Avalanche Player Grades 2012: Semyon Varlamov

March 10, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) blocks a shot from Edmonton Oilers center Eric Belanger (20) during the first period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Semyon Varlamov

#1 / Goalie / Colorado Avalanche



Apr 27, 1988

2011 Cap Hit: $2,833,333

2012 Status: Avs #1 goalie moving forward.

Colorado's acquisition of precocious netminder Semyon Varlamov was the most shocking move of the NHL's first day of free agency in 2011. The Avs, who seven days earlier had used the second overall pick they earned thanks to a disastrous 68 point season, surrendered their first round pick in the 2012 draft and a conditional second round pick to free the restricted free agent from an increasingly contentious situation in Washington.

While seen around the league as a colossal overpayment by a team most viewed as still in midst of a full-blown rebuild, the Avs were crucified for the move and the noise only got louder when Varlamov struggled to find consistency in the first three months of his Colorado career and eventually lost his hold on the #1 job.

Given frequent nights off in lieu of the excellent play of fellow goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Varly was given the time to settle down and re-focus on getting back into top form. Uhh...it worked. Starting with the turn of the calendar to 2012, Varlamov won 14 games, posting 3 of his 4 shutouts on the season and leading the Avalanche to the edge of the playoffs. For the year, Varlamov set career highs in wins (26), games played (53), and shutouts. Varly was also dominant in the shootout, going 8-0 and allowing just 2 goals on 24 attempts for an absurd .917 save percentage.

2012 Outlook: By mid-season, the Varly trade had everyone really nervous. We had seen glimpses of the great talent he possesses but nothing resembling consistency. Shots against him gave me the same sickly feeling I got watching people throw pucks at Budaj or Elliott last year. It was all bad, man. Whatever switch got flipped need to stay in that position because when Varly started to figure it out, he became the highlight of the season for me. Shots against were suddenly opportunities to see something great and with his otherworldly flexibility, a lot of times that's exactly what we got: great performance after great performance. Moving forward, Varly is the unquestioned top dog in the Avalanche net and easily the most exciting player we've had at the position since 2003.

2nd Opinion (by Sean): We all saw Varly’s positives – flexibility, explosive energy, and a hot streak towards the end of the season to validate the Washington trade – so, I’ll only get into potential concerns:
1. Rebounds. At times he gave up too many. A full-time goalie coach would have helped.
2. Outside the crease. Lapses in the defense may share the blame, but he could learn how to be a more fluid 3rd defenseman a la Marty Brodeur. For a young goalie, this is hardly a long-term worry.
3. Playing style. He likes to crouch low, and he does it often. Starting from his hips and extending down to his feet, he’s putting a lot of strain on himself. It’s no wonder he was viewed as having a "glass groin" in Washington – actually, his body is no weaker than any other netminder, it’s just the way he plays. Hopefully it was his new training regime (and not a lucky year health-wise) that prevented any significant injuries.

2011 - Semyon Varlamov 53 3151 26 24 136 2.59 1564 1428 .913 4

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