The Colorado Avalanche are in the midst of a renaissance. After three years finishing outside the playoffs, the club has turned it around. They appear poised to make the cut this season, and it's thanks in no small part to goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
So the Avalanche would like to keep him around. Makes sense. On Thursday, the restricted free agent-to-be agreed to a five-year, $29.5 million extension, for cap hit of $5.9 million.
The Avalanche believe he's earned it. From the release:
Varlamov, 25, has posted a 26-9-5 record with a 2.43 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and one shutout in 42 games (39 starts) this season. Varlamov has already tied his career high with 26 wins, equaling his total from his first season with Colorado (2011-12). The Samara, Russia native is tied for third among NHL goaltenders in wins, ranks second in saves (1,199), third in shots faced (1,296), sixth in games (42-tied) and eighth in save percentage (.925).
“Undoubtedly, Semyon has been an impact player for us this season,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. “At only 25 years old, he is entering the prime years of his career and he wants to be part of this franchise moving forward. We are very excited to have come to terms with him and the fact that he has agreed to a five-year extension demonstrates his commitment to the Avalanche and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Has he earned it? I'm not sold. Varlamov's had a great season, and as mentioned, he hasn't just made a lot of stops, he's spearheaded a renaissance.
But I'm not so sure that I'd negotiate based on renaissances spearheaded, personally -- I might wait until the summer, when the sample size for this season is a little larger, and try a little harder to get the price down. After all, Varlamov's an RFA, so there's room here for a tough negotiation, perhaps one based on longer span of time as opposed to a few unexpectedly wonderful months that could very well be unrepeatable.
After all, Varlamov may boast a pretty decent .931 even-strength save percentage this year, but he was at .903 last year, and he's .911 on his career. Going on this season alone, he's a top-10 netminder and deserving of the seventh-highest cap hit among goalies next season.
But if he returns to his career averages, which are, in a word, average, this contract is going to look pretty silly.