Colorado Avalanche: Saying Goodbye to Semyon Varlamov

The Colorado Avalanche seem to be moving on from longtime goal tender Semyon Varlamov. It’s been a roller coaster, but he was our guy.

The Colorado Avalanche and goalie Semyon Varlamov are going to part ways. It’s not officially official yet. However, here’s what GM Joe Sakic had to say about the fact that Varlamov is a pending unrestricted free agent:

“I met with Varly so we’ll see what happens July 1 with him. He’s going to be UFA, and we’ll be in communication.”

In other words, the team is letting Semyon Varlamov hit free agency. There are a lot of teams who would be upgrading their goalie situation by signing Varlamov and would be willing to throw a lot of money at him. So, if the Avs were going to ask him to be a discounted backup to Philipp Grubauer, they’d be negotiating before he got to free agency.

So, Varly is going to leave the Avalanche after eight seasons.

The Colorado Avalanche acquired Varlamov via trade from the Washington Capitals on Free Agency Day in 2011. They sent over a first-rounder in 2012 (Filip Forsberg, traded to Nashville in 2013) and a second-rounder (traded to Dallas). The then-23-year-old Varlamov had spent three seasons in Washington as a backup and had played just 59 NHL games.

He almost matched that in his first season with Colorado, playing 53 games. In all, he’s played 389 games for the Avalanche, going 183-156-38 in that time. He was our de facto starting goalie pretty much from Day 1.

The only goalie who holds more records in Colorado Avalanche history for games played, wins, etc. is Hall of Famer Patrick Roy. I’m not putting Varlamov in that league, but it tells you how much he’s accomplished in his eight seasons here.

Varly played his (likely) last game at Pepsi Center on April 2 vs the Edmonton Oilers. It was a win, and Varlamov faced 29 shots. He allowed just two goals, recording a .931 save percentage.
Varlamov said at the time:

“I didn’t think about it during the game that this would be my last game. “

Of course, he said his focus at the time was just on winning and getting closer to a playoff berth.

Semyon’s (likely) final game with the Avs was the last game of the season, a loss to the San Jose Sharks. He faced 29 shots, allowing four goals and recording a .862 save percentage.

I’d say those two games are pretty characteristic of Varly’s tenure in Colorado. When he was hot, he was a brick wall. When he was cold, he was Swiss cheese. And there was rarely much in between.

Mile High Sticking contributor Joe Kramer’s thoughts on Semyon Varlamov:

“Well I was a bit nervous when they first signed Varly – I thought he’d turn out the way Jose Theodore did (great goalie being put out to pasture by a team that already got their money’s worth). But he helped get us to back-to-back playoffs so the Avs certainly could’ve done a lot worse. And now with Gru and Francouz in the pipeline, I think the Avs will be alright moving forward.”

Another MHS contributor, Crystal Noll, said this of Varlamov:

“He was good for us early on but he’s very breakable now and as much as I hate to say it the inability to complete a season is hurting us as much as it’s hurting him. We can’t have D-men getting injured because they don’t trust their backstop and therefore are doing too much and sacrificing their bodies more than normal. They have to have faith in the man behind them. Plus we have so many good young goalies waiting for a turn to prove themselves I’d hate to see their potential wasted because of an attachment to Varly just because at one time he was what we needed. I like the guy but I think letting him try somewhere else may be better for him and definitely will be better for us.”

Avs insider Adrian Dater wrote a compelling post about what the end of Varly as an Av looked like — a goalie sitting on the bench, only partially feeling like part of the team, but being supportive of his teammates nonetheless.

Stats from this season:

A little memoir just from this season:

This was pretty cute:

Goodbye, Varly:

I’ve always been up and down about Semyon Varlamov — kind of like his play. But ultimately, until that fateful run that saw Philipp Grubauer win the starting position, I always felt most comfortable when Varly was in net.

It was a good run for Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche. I’m sure he’ll get another gig, and probably some decent money, and I’m happy for him.

But for now, a note to Varly: Thanks for all you did for us through the years.