Last season was a genuine breakout campaign for Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He silenced all the doubters by posting a career high .927 save percentage while facing more shots than any other goalie in the NHL, recording a franchise-record 41 wins, and being nominated for the Vezina Trophy. At the end of January, the Avalanche rewarded Varlamov with a five year extension that will keep him around through the 2018-2019 season.
Since entering the NHL with the Washington Capitals in 2009, Varlamov has shown high level talent, although he, like all upstart players, was a bit raw in his early years. In the summer of 2011, Colorado was in the market for goaltenders, and Washington had several young goalies, all of whom they could not keep and develop. The Avalanche had their minds made up that Varlamov was the guy they wanted, and the Capitals decided they were willing to trade him for a first round pick in the 2012 Draft. Since then, Varlamov has proven that the trade that brought him to Colorado was a extremely good move for the Avalanche.
After a couple of seasons with Colorado, Varlamov's career trajectory didn't appear to be going in the right direction. He had a decent year in his first season with the Avalanche, but the strike-shortened 2013 season went quite poorly for him, as it did for everyone on the team. Consequently, many people in the hockey world were not convinced that he could become a franchise goaltender. He entered the 2013-2014 season under contract for only that year, so the pressure was on for him to prove himself and earn the role he has since earned. A great deal of credit for Varlamov's progress has been fairly given to head coach Patrick Roy and goalie coach Francois Allaire, both of whom were new to Colorado's coaching staff last season. Great coaching combined with a relentless work-ethic on the part of Varlamov have helped him become the goaltender that Colorado brass believed he could be all along.
Going into next season and beyond, Varlamov is expected to be the long-term number one goalie for the Avalanche. The team has committed to him, and it can be fairly said that he is the first true franchise goaltender the team has had since their head coach was between the pipes. There is a certain symmetry to Roy still being a part of the goaltending equation. The Avalanche and their fans can be confident knowing that their goaltending is set for a long time.
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Tags: Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Francois Allaire, Hockey, NHL, Patrick Roy, Semyon Varlamov, Vezina Trophy