Colorado Avalanche GM Greg Sherman caught a lot of heat this summer when he traded a 2012 first-round pick and a second-round selection in either 2012 or 2013 to Washington for Semyon Varlamov.
Months later, that heat seems to have cooled. Colorado is off to a great start and so far, Varlamov has been worth the investment. (Emphasis on the “so far” part.)
Tonight, the Avs were on the losing end of a 3-1 scoreline against Chicago — but the goaltending was stellar. Varlamov stopped 27 of 29 shots and earned first star honors, highlighted by this save on Marcus Kruger with five minutes to go in the third period:
With a .938 save percentage and a goals-against average hovering around 2.00, Varlamov is putting up similar numbers to those Craig Anderson posted during Colorado’s surprising 2009-10 campaign. The Avs came into that season with tempered expectations, but stunned the NHL by making the playoffs and giving top-seeded San Jose a fight in the opening round.
Varlamov’s got the talent to replicate that kind success, but will need to stay healthy to do so — and historically, that’s been a problem. A litany of groin and knee problems have limited him to just 57 starts over the last four seasons, not the kind of numbers you’d expect from a No. 1 netminder.