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Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Aleksandrovich Varlamov (Russian: Семён Александрович Варламов, Russian pronunciation: [sʲɪˈmʲɵn vɐrˈɫaməf]; born 27 April 1988) is a Russian professional ice hockey goaltender for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL). He first played professionally with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the then Russian Superleague (RSL) after he was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall, by the Washington Capitals in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Semyon Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov - Colorado Avalanche.jpg
Varlamov with the Colorado Avalanche in 2014
Born(1988-04-27)27 April 1988
Kuybyshev, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight209 lb (95 kg; 14 st 13 lb)
NHL team
Former teams
New York Islanders
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Washington Capitals
Colorado Avalanche
National teamRussia
NHL Draft23rd overall, 2006
Washington Capitals
Playing career2006–present
Medal record
Ice hockey
World Championships
Gold medal – first place2012 Helsinki
Silver medal – second place2010 Germany
World Junior Championships
Silver medal – second place2007 Sweden
Silver medal – second place2006 Canada

Playing career

Early career

Varlamov grew up in Kuybyshev, developing his skills under the VVS hockey program. Before learning to skate properly, he started playing in net at the age of eight, preferring the goalie stick to the inferior bandy sticks that mite-level players were using at the time.[1] The young goalie moved to Yaroslavl in his early teens and quickly established himself as the club’s dominant goalie.[2] During the 2004–05 season, Varlamov made his debut on Lokomotiv’s junior farm club, Lokomotiv-2, playing as backup to Ivan Kasutin in the 1st League (Russia 3). During the summer of 2005, Kasutin was loaned to Penza, effectively making Varlamov the starting goalie for the 2005–06 season. In 2008, he helped lead Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to the Russian Super League finals.[3]

Washington Capitals

After having been drafted by the Washington Capitals 23rd overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Varlamov was signed by the Capitals to a three-year, entry-level contract on 11 July 2007. He came to North America for the 2008–09 season and played, for the most part, with the Capitals' minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL). Varlamov was called up, however, on several occasions during the season and played his first NHL game on 13 December 2008, against the Montreal Canadiens. Making 32 saves, he won his debut 2–1 and was named the first star of the game. His home debut in Washington came five days later on 18 December against the St. Louis Blues, where he made 29 saves on 31 shots and was named the second star of the game in a 4–2 Capitals win. After regular Capitals backup Brent Johnson was sidelined with a hip injury in February 2009, Varlamov assumed the backup position behind José Théodore.[3][4] He went 4–0–1 with a 2.37 goals against average (GAA) and .918 save percentage in six games with the Capitals, while also going 19–7–1 in 27 games with the Bears in the AHL.[5]

During the first round of the 2009 playoffs against the New York Rangers, Varlamov replaced José Théodore after he allowed four goals to lose Game 1.[6] He subsequently made his NHL playoff debut on 18 April 2009, losing the second game of the series 1–0. He went on to win Game 3 4–0 on 20 April, recording his first career NHL shutout. On 24 April, Game 5 of the series, Varlamov achieved his second shutout by the same score, 4–0. He won the next two games 5–3 and 2–1, respectively, to help the Washington Capitals advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1998. In Game 1 of the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Varlamov made a spectacular save on Sidney Crosby that NHL pundits dubbed "the save of the playoffs."[7] In Game 7 of that series, after allowing four early goals, he was pulled in favor of deposed starter José Théodore in which the Capitals were ultimately eliminated 6–2 by the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

The next season, Théodore began the season as the starter, with Varlamov able to challenge for the spot. After a hot start, just as it seemed he would supplant Theodore, Varlamov was injured. Varlamov was sent down to the Hershey Bears of the AHL by the Capitals on 29 December 2009, to begin his rehabilitation starts. Varlamov was later recalled from the Bears on 1 March 2010. Théodore remained the starter, but just as it was the year before, Varlamov eventually made most of the playoff starts. Théodore was not retained after the season, seemingly making Varlamov the official starter. However, he eventually lost out to rookie Michal Neuvirth, and Neuvirth was instead Théodore's successor. On 9 July 2010, it was announced that Varlamov changed his jersey number from the recognizable number 40 to number 1.

Colorado Avalanche

On 1 July 2011, Varlamov was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a first-round draft pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013.[8] As a restricted free agent at the time of his trade, he was then signed to a three-year, $8.5 million contract with the Avalanche the following day, marking his projection as the Avalanche's starting goaltender.[9]

The start of the 2011–12 season proved successful for Varlamov and the Avs, but a disastrous November put the club back to the bottom of the Northwest Division. Varlamov was often benched in favor of veteran backup Jean-Sébastien Giguère, originally brought in by the Avalanche to mentor the young Russian. With Giguère's exemplary effort in net, Colorado climbed back within the race for bottom playoff spots in the Western Conference. On 15 February 2012, Giguère pulled his groin in the first period against the Vancouver Canucks. Varlamov replaced Giguère in a losing effort. Since then, he has reaffirmed his position as starter and kept his club in playoff contention.

5 April 2012, the 81st game of the season, in a must-win situation for the Avs' playoff hopes, Varlamov made his career high eighth consecutive start and let up four goals in a 5–2 loss against the last-placed Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center. Two of the goals came from Columbus captain Rick Nash, the other two from rookie Cam Atkinson, who notched his first career hat-trick with an empty-net goal after Varlamov was pulled in favor of an extra skater at the end of the game. The loss ended Colorado's playoff bid. This game finished his season with a .913 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA with a 26–24–3 record. Despite his well-known contempt for the post-overtime tiebreaker, Varlamov went undefeated in the shootout in the 2011–12 season, winning all eight of his contests and allowing only two goals in 24 attempts.

With the 2012–13 NHL lockout cancelling the start of the NHL season, Varlamov signed a lockout contract to return to his Russian club, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, on 27 September 2012.[10] Used as one of three main goaltenders on the Lokomotiv roster, Varlamov impressed early in his debut Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season.[11] Despite suffering a knee injury, Varlamov played in 16 games and led the KHL in GAA and save percentage before the conclusion of the NHL lockout called for his return to the Avalanche on 6 January 2013.[12][13]

Varlamov struggled during the lockout shortened 2012–13 season, only posting 11 wins in 35 games played and ended the season with a career-worst 3.02 GAA and .903 save percentage[14] as the Avalanche missed the playoffs again and finished last in the Western Conference.[15]

On 30 January 2014, Varlamov signed a five-year contract extension with the Avalanche worth $29.5 million.[16]

On 26 January 2017, it was announced that Varlamov would not return for the 2016–17 season after undergoing hip surgery for what was previously thought as a groin injury.[17] Varlamov returned for the 2017–18 season but was again injured near the end of the season,[18] allowing for Jonathan Bernier to start for the Avalanche during the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.[19]

New York Islanders

On 1 July 2019, Varlamov signed as a free agent to a four-year contract with the New York Islanders worth $20 Million.[20][21] The team signed Varlamov after Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner Robin Lehner turned down an extension from the club to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.[22]

Personal life

On 30 October 2013, Varlamov surrendered to Denver police and was arrested on domestic violence charges on his girlfriend,[23] including second degree kidnapping and third degree assault.[24][25][26][27]

On 22 November 2013, Varlamov was charged with misdemeanour assault of his girlfriend.[28] The misdemeanor charge against Varlamov was dropped by a Denver judge on 20 December 2013, after prosecutors said they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.[29]

Name pronunciation

When Varlamov first started playing for the Capitals, his name was most often pronounced VAR-la-mov. However, Varlamov has since corrected journalists and the Capitals television team, who mentioned it often during Game 4 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The correct pronunciation is var-LA-mov, similar to the syllable emphasis of the last names of fellow Russian netminders Evgeni Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov.

On 5 August 2009, Varlamov registered a change of spelling of his first name with the NHL, "for the upcoming season and foreseeable future," from the incorrect "Simeon" to "Semyon."[30] In the Russian alphabet, Varlamov's first name is spelled "Семён." The Russian letter (ё), equates to the sound (yo) in English. Other transliterated variations in use include Semen (as it is written in the NHL 09 video game), Semyen, Simyan, Simyon, etc.

In response to attempts by Varlamov and other Russian players to correct the spellings of their names, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) came out with a standardized code in 2011 for transliterating names from the Cyrillic to the Latin script.[31]

International play

Varlamov was a backup for Russia during the 2005 IIHF World U18 Championships, where they finished fifth. He then earned the backup position over Lokomotiv-2 teammate Ivan Kasutin for Russia at the 2006 World Junior Championships as a 17-year-old. Backing up Anton Khudobin, Varlamov did not see much ice time, playing only in one game against Latvia, allowing one goal in a 3–1 round robin win. He earned a silver medal with Russia as they were defeated 5–0 in the final by Canada.

Later that year, Varlamov established himself as the starting netminder for Russia's under-18 squad at the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships and finished in fifth place. He began the 2007 Super Series as Russia's starter at the under-20 level, but was later pulled in the series in favour of Sergei Bobrovsky. He regained the starting position at the 2007 World Junior Championships and recorded a 1.51 GAA (second among tournament goalies to Carey Price of Canada) along with two shutouts. Russia was, however, defeated by Canada for the second consecutive year in the gold medal game to earn another silver medal.

Varlamov was selected to represent the senior Russian squad for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He was the youngest player on the team by two years, serving as the third-string goaltender on the team, behind starter Evgeni Nabokov and backup Ilya Bryzgalov. Russia's tournament, however, ended as they lost to Canada 7–3 in the quarterfinals. Varlamov did not see any action in the Olympic tournament.

That same year, 2010, Varlamov represented Russia at the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany, where he took the starting goaltender's spot. Varlamov helped the Russians to the World Championships Final, where the team faced the Czech Republic, though Russia lost 2–1, earning the silver medal. In 2012, Varlamov was the starting goaltender for Russia at the 2012 IIHF World Championship. Varlamov played extremely well in Russia's net and was an important piece in the team that reached the World Championships Final, where they faced Slovakia. Russia won the Final 6–2 and won the tournament, receiving the gold medal.

At the 2013 IIHF World Championships, held in Finland and Sweden, Varlamov was Russia's second choice goaltender behind the Philadelphia Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov, although both would play similar minutes throughout the tournament. Bryzgalov was named the starter against the United States in the quarterfinals, where the U.S. crushed Russia 8–3 and ended their tournament, despite the inclusion of a star-studded roster that included Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin, among others.

At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Varlamov started most of Russia's games, posting a 2–1 record with one shutout. Russia, however, ultimately fell in the quarterfinals to Finland, 3–1, thwarting their attempt at claiming gold on home soil in the Olympics.

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Regular seasonPlayoffs
2006–07Lokomotiv YaroslavlRSL3319367032.1763681802.94
2007–08Lokomotiv YaroslavlRSL44259210632.45169242551.62
2008–09Hershey BearsAHL27197115516222.40.916
2008–09Washington CapitalsNHL64013291302.37.91813767583222.53.918
2009–10Washington CapitalsNHL26154615276522.55.9096333491402.41.908
2009–10Hershey BearsAHL3300185601.95.933
2010–11Washington CapitalsNHL27119515605822.23.924
2010–11Hershey BearsAHL32101791003.36.855
2011–12Colorado AvalancheNHL5326243315113642.59.913
2012–13Lokomotiv YaroslavlKHL168439282731.74.946
2012–13Colorado AvalancheNHL351121319509833.02.903
2013–14Colorado AvalancheNHL6341146364014622.41.9277344322002.78.913
2014–15Colorado AvalancheNHL5728208330714152.56.921
2015–16Colorado AvalancheNHL5727253315914822.81.914
2016–17Colorado AvalancheNHL24617013487613.38.898
2017–18Colorado AvalancheNHL5124166286212822.68.920
2018–19Colorado AvalancheNHL4920199284013622.87.909
NHL totals44821316950256721145252.68.91626131315406622.57.915


2006RussiaWJC2nd, silver medalist(s)110060101.00.950
2007RussiaWJC2nd, silver medalist(s)6510358921.51.934
2010RussiaWC2nd, silver medalist(s)5410298711.41.951
2012RussiaWC1st, gold medalist(s)88004401311.77.939
Junior totals20
Senior totals20153010913731.98.930


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