The future of Semyon Varlamov’s NHL career will resolve itself this week. According to a few sources over the weekend, Varlmov is likely done in Washington. That revelation was first reported over the weekend by Yahoo Sports Russian reporter Dmitry Chesnokov, who we here at DCPSR respect an excellent hockey journalist. If you do not follow Chesnokov on Twitter, do so HERE.
The title of the National Post article is as accurate as it gets. The break down of Varly in Washington is hardly surprising. Varly was drafted in the first round of the 2006 NHL Draft. Since the time he was drafted, he was anointed as the goal tender in waiting, to lead the franchise for the next decade. Varly has certainly shown some amazing flexibility and genuinely incredible skill to be a dominating net minder. However, Varly has been unable to stay consistently healthy. Virtually handed the goal tending starting job out of the block last season, it was not too far in that Varly fell to a familiar to Valry himself and the Capitals organization.
Unfortunately for Varly, and fortunately for the Capitals, another young net minder was darfted one round after Varly, Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth, after winning back to back Calder Cup Championships in Hershey, was elevated to Washington to backup Varlamov, just as planned, a one, two, youth based punch in the pipes. Neuvirth steppe din for the injured Varlamov and never looked back. His incredible poise and consistency led Neuvirth to a 27-14-4 record with a 2.45 GAA. He also supplanted Varlamov, in the minds of fans, and likely the franchise, as the future net minder in Washington.
Another punch to the gut for Varlamov was the emergence of another young goal tending prospect, the 93rd overall pick in the 2008 NGHL Draft, Braden Holtby. Holtby was called to Washington to backup Neuvirth during Varly’s absence. During a brief injury period for Neuvirth, Holtby was forced in to action and delivered big for the Capitals. In 14 games, Holbty posted a 10-2-2 record with an impressive 1.79 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Even better, the numbers since his January 22 call up was even more blistering. In 9 games, Holtby posted a 8-0-1 record with a whopping save percentage of .963, stopping 239 of 248 shots on goal and racked up 3 shutouts.
Meanwhile rumors began surfacing that Varlamov was considering playing in the KHL next season, rumors that likely irked GM George McPhee and the Caps front office. McPhee later responded by saying “let him go” in regard to the rumors, clearly showing displeasure.
So should the Varlamov era in Washington end, before it really ever started, it is clear the three things that led to his possible departure was his injury riddled young career, the emergence of Neuvirth and Holtby, and the rumors of his future elsewhere. Now those rumors come to a climax this week. Suddenly, Varlamov was not part of the conversation on the future of the net minding in the Nation’s capital. Most fans talk about Neuvirth and Holtby in terms of goal tending in Washington, with Varly rapidly becoming a forgotten commodity.
Varlamov is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1. Either way, the situation resolves itself this week. We will anxiously watch and see. We also have a poll on Varly’s future in our forum. GO VOTE.