From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Semyon Varlamov.
#1 / Goalie / Washington Capitals
Apr 27, 1988
$821,667 cap hit in 2010-11; RFA after 2010-11 season
'09-'10 Rink Wrap: 6.41
Key Stat: Twenty NHL goaltenders played more minutes in 2010-11 than the 3,087 Varlamov has played since becoming a full-time NHLer at the beginning of the 2009-10 season.
Interesting Stat: Varlamov is 5-2-1/1.87/.934 in his career against the Tampa Bay Lightning, including a 2-1-1/1.49/.949 mark in 2010-11... but didn't see a single minute of ice time in the Caps' second round sweep at the hands of the Bolts.
The Good: Coming off a season in which he posted rather pedestrian numbers (including a 2.55 goals against average and .909 save percentage), Varlamov set career bests in both GAA and save percentage, the former of which ranked fourth among NHL goalies who started at least 25 games, while the latter ranked fifth in that group by a few ten-thousandths of a point. The trio of netminders ahead of Varly on both lists? The three Vezina finalists. Not bad. And even when Varlamov wasn't good, he was (with one notable exception) usually good enough to win - while he posted a 1.58 GAA and .946 save percentage in his 11 wins, he had a 2.49 GAA and .919 save percentage in his 13 losses other than The Manhattan Massacre. In fact, throw out that one game and twenty rough minutes in Anaheim and Varlamov had a sizzling 1.94 GAA and .934 save percentage on the campaign.
Varlamov's season peaked at the turn of the calendar year, when, over a four-game span, he rang up a 3-0-1/.988/.969 mark, shutout the Habs, and won the
Superbowl Winter Classic. He also seemed to be rounding into form nicely upon returning from injury at the end of the year, posting save percentages of .913, .923 and .939 in his three games leading up to the the regular season's conclusion.
On a couple of historical notes, Varlamov's .924 save percentage in 2010-11 is the highest single-season mark in team history (minimum 15 games played) and has him sitting atop the franchise's all-time ledger in that category (just ahead of teammate Michal Neuvirth; the two rank second and third, respectively, in Caps all-time GAA).
The Bad: My kingdom for a groin. Yet again, Varlamov was hampered by injuries and unable to play anywhere close to a full season's worth of games. In his three seasons in North America, Varlamov has played 33, 29 and 30 regular season games between Washington and Hershey. This year's injuries cost Varlamov his job... and possibly his shot at a big NHL contract.
Beyond the injuries, there's the record - 11 wins and 14 losses - that's mildly concerning, but that should be taken with a shaker of salt, given the sparkling save percentage. Really, "The Bad" starts and ends with Varlamov's durability.
The Vote: Rate Varlamov below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: All things considered (Varlamov's health, his leverage vis a vis the KHL, Neuvirth's contract, Braden Holtby's emergence, etc.) what is the maximum deal to which you'd like to see the Caps re-sign their Russian netminder? Should the Caps entertain trading Varlamov this summer? What would it take for Varly to earn a '10' next season?