Less than three years ago, Semyon Varlamov was mere days from returning back to Russia, putting his NHL dream on the back burner and playing in the country where his career began. Fortunately for the Samara native he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in the off-season where he would become the new face in the crease.
Although he didn’t know it at the time, this simple NHL transaction would save his life. Varlamov was reportedly all but certain to return to his hometown Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, the same team that tragically perished in a plane crash later that summer.
The then 23-year-old net minder arrived with a new outlook on his career and debuted his grasp of English in his introductory press conference. 130 games and one off-season hiccup later, Varlamov is now signed with the Avs for the next five years after agreeing to a contract extension worth $29.5 million yesterday. He was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.
The extension will make Varlamov the 7th most expensive goalie in the NHL and solidifies the trust and hope the Avs brass have for the man who has been the most consistent goalie in Denver since the retirement of his head coach, Patrick Roy.
Varlamov, is 27-9-5 this season with a 2.47 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 43 games. He’s been one of the top goalies all season and has gone 12-1-1 in his past 14 starts. His strong play has all but earned him the national team starting role in Sochi and with his contract out of the way his focus can solely be on stopping the puck for both teams.
In an age where strong and young goalies are few and far, Varlamov has shown he can handle being a top goalie under the watchful eye of one of the best who’s ever donned a pair of pads. While he has been putting up career numbers this season one would imagine that by offering such a contract that they trust the consistency will remain for the foreseeable future. Perhaps more time with a legendary coach will rocket Varly to full stardom by 2019.