Colorado Avalanche Player Grade: Semyon Varlamov

Oct 8, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) is unable to make a save in the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. The Wild won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) is unable to make a save in the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. The Wild won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov did not receive a good grade for the 2015-16 season. Do you agree with his evaluation?

Semyon Varlamov is the Colorado Avalanche’s starting goalie. Colorado acquired the goalie from the Washington Capitals on July 1, 2011, in a trade that sent two draft picks to Washington.

Head coach Patrick Roy has long been a supporter of Varlamov’s, which is no surprise since he tended goal in Colorado himself. Varlamov has been working with Roy’s own goalie coach, Francois Allaire, since Patrick came back to Colorado in 2013.

During Varlamov’s historic 2013-14 season, the Avalanche awarded him with a five-year contract extension worth $29.5 million. The contract expires in 2019.

Though Varlamov struggled throughout the season, and coach Roy even made the starting position dependent on performance, Varlamov is still slated as the Avalanche’s #1 goalie.

Player Statistics

Stats (from Sporting Charts):

colorado avalanche
Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov’s statistics from the 2015-16 season. Photo credit: Sporting Charts /

Player Grade: D

Semyon Varlamov was one of the most inconsistent players on a team wracked with inconsistency. His save percentage is misleading because it includes some ridiculous 40+-save performances, thus masking some .750% performances.

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Varlamov went 27-25-3 this season, which is just 500 hockey. That’s pretty tough for your starting goalie. By contrast, Calvin Pickard went 7-6-1, putting him a full game over 500. Both Pickard and Reto Berra had better save percentages.

The biggest support people offer about Varlamov’s numbers is that he faces too many shots. That’s certainly true. However, as Mile High Sticking writer Will Radke pointed out, Varlamov cheats the net. He also allows some of the softest goals. Again, that’s not acceptable in your starting goalie.

My biggest rationale for awarding Varlamov a D is that he blows big games — he’s the exact opposite of his coach, who was renowned for being the most clutch of all goal tenders. Varlamov blew both games against the Minnesota Wild in which the final wild card berth was being decided — coach Roy had to pull Varlamov in the March 1st game after he allowed three goals in 12 shots. (That .750 save percentage I was talking about — and it wasn’t the only time.)

Semyon Varlamov also helped the Colorado Avalanche blow a third-period lead in the storied Stadium Series game by allowing two soft goals. Even coach Roy stated Varlamov should have made those saves.

Varlamov can play absolutely out of his mind and steal games — they’re usually relatively meaningless games, though. He simply has to stop cheating and depending on his talent. If Varlamov were displaying solid work ethic, he’d be closer to his golden numbers of the 2013-14 season.

More Player Grades:

Player Future

I want to see Semyon Varlamov traded. The Colorado Avalanche should trade Varlamov for a couple draft picks and let Calvin Pickard take over goal tending duties. That will mean having to revamp the blueline to prevent so many shots, but they should do that anyway.

Even just a few months ago, I would have said Patrick Roy would never consider it. He’s said numerous times that he likes Varlamov and his starting job is secure. (This of all positions must fall 100% in Patrick Roy’s purview.)

That said, that security was called into question through the year. Coach Roy started expressing doubt and, like I said, even put the starting spot up for grabs for a short spell. Varlamov comes with a heavy cap hit — $5.9 million — and he hasn’t produced adequately since that contract took effect. He’s gone 55-45-11 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.68 goals against average.

What’s more, he’s had groin injury problems throughout his career. They’ve flared up again, forcing him to back out of playing for Russia at IIHF Worlds.

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All of that means Varlamov might get traded. However, I still somehow doubt it. So, let’s hope Varlamov takes some supplements to fortify his groin muscles and works extra hard over the summer. Let’s also hope for some more defensive help among the Colorado Avalanche skaters.

Giving negative evaluations of Semyon Varlamov is rarely popular. Tell me what you think of my evaluation of the Colorado Avalanche’s goalie!