The Avalanche goaltending situation has been somewhat in disarray since… well Patrick Roy. So it is no wonder that many Avs fans were less than excited about bringing in a fringe goaltender and giving up a 1st and 2nd round pick to boot. Not to mention there is a strong chance that the 1st rounder could be a lottery pick in 2012.
So for all the negativity surrounding the Semyon Varlamov trade, I thought I would look at some of the positives and a few reasons he could be a fantasy steal if all goes as planned.
Everyone has been talking about how Varlamov is injury prone and indeed he has missed 38 games over the past three seasons. But that is no different than many other goaltenders in the NHL. If you consider that over the past three seasons Roberto Luongo has missed 32 games, Ryan Miller 25, Cam Ward 35, and Martin Brodeur 64, Varlamov’s injury concerns don’t seem as bad.
When healthy his numbers have been very solid. In three seasons his lowest save percentage has been .909 and he has a career .917 SP to go along with a 2.39 goals against average. Not to mention that the Capitals are not the most defensively gifted team. For instance in Varlamov’s three seasons the Caps never finished higher than 19th in blocked shots. On the flipside the Avalanche finished 7th, 4th, and 1st overall in the past three seasons.
With an aging Jean-Sebastien Giguere slated as a backup, there is a strong chance Varlamov will post career highs in games played, wins, and shutouts. Also a less than $3 million dollar cap hit per season is pretty good these days for a starting goalie.
Now there are a couple of X-Factors at work for Varlamov in Colorado as well. The first being that no doubt, since many are prognosticating a terrible season for the Avs, the pressure will be off and expectations very low. It sort of reminds me of the Avalanche of two seasons ago that no one expected to go anywhere and then Craig Anderson came in, stood on his head and got the team to the playoffs. Then followed it up by nearly upsetting the heavily favored San Jose Sharks in the first round. In Washington the situation was completely the opposite. The Caps were picked by many to win a Cup and you could tell in the post-season at times that the pressure was getting to them.
Secondly, Colorado plays in arguably the worst division in the NHL. Outside of Vancouver, the Oilers, Wild, and Flames are not strong teams, meaning a lot of winnable contests for Varlamov.
Lastly, Varlamov has publicly stated that growing up his hero was Patrick Roy and he rooted for the Avalanche. He wanted to go there and is relishing the opportunity to become the team’s franchise goaltender going forward.
Varlamov may not be the most attractive option between the pipes, but he certainly can add some depth to fantasy rosters that need it. You never know when an injury can take down your starter and in most leagues the mid-season waiver wire is slim pickings.