As the Colorado Avalanche head into their offseason, having clinched the worst record in the Western Conference and winning the NHL Draft lottery and the no. 1 pick, there’s a pretty clear plan as to what this team has to do to improve. The solution lives mostly on the blue line.
But while the Avalanche will spend a great deal of time evaluating this roster over the summer, both in terms of depth and what they have on defense, there’s going to be one very large question surrounding one player on this roster throughout much of next season. That player is Semyon Varlamov.
There’s no doubt that Varlamov has the skill set to become one of the better goaltenders in the National Hockey League. But he has yet to prove that he can piece that skill set into anything consistent. Whether it’s a mental state of mind, the team in front of him being awful, or another factor we do not know.
What we do know is that in his two seasons with the Avalanche, Varlamov’s numbers have been rather pedestrian. His numbers in 2011-2012 were pretty solid, with a .913 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average. Those took a huge dip with the Avalanche being completely terrible in 2013.
In 33 starts on the year, Varlamov posted an 11-21-0 record, with a 3.02 GAA and .903 save percentage, somehow working three shutouts into that stat line. That just adds evidence to the idea that Varlamov is incredibly inconsistent. Does that inconsistency make next year a make-or-break campaign for him?
That’s very likely. Varlamov’s contract runs through next season. The team in front of him will likely be improved. If he can’t come through with a performance that demonstrates consistency and gives the Avs management a reason to keep him around, he could have difficulty finding a job after next year.
Of course, he could come out with a huge bounce back year and earn a lucrative new contract. We’ll see.