Since Olie Kolzig surrendered his starting goaltending duties in 2007-08, the Capitals have done a commendable job of drafting and developing talented netminders.
Keeping them, well that’s another story.
In the five seasons since Kolzig relinquished the throne, the Caps have had eight goaltenders suit up for them. Are you ready for a time lapse roll call?
Brent Johnson, Cristobal Huet, Semyon [nee Simeon] Varlamov, Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth, Tomas Vokoun, Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer.
Five of those eight were anointed starters and all but Holtby let the opportunity slip through the 5-hole.
Which brings us back to Varlamov, who was traded from the Caps to the Colorado Avalanche two summers ago for a first- and second-round pick in the 2012 NHL draft. [The Caps used that first-round pick to select Filip Forsberg 11th overall and traded the second-round pick to Dallas in the Mike Ribeiro deal. So, two years later, the Caps now have Marty Erat and Michael Latta to show for Varlamov].
Varlamov, 25, is approaching the final year of a three-year, $8.5 million contract he signed with the Avs after they acquired him. He is now on the hot seat in Denver, where some pundits believe it’s time for the Avalanche to turn the page on the Russian netminder after seeing him go 37-45-6 in his two seasons as a starter.
New Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy isn’t ready to give up on Varlamov and has hired goaltender guru Francois Allaire to work with the young goalie.
“I think Varly is looking for a fresh start,” Allaire told the Denver Post. “I think he’s open to trying something else. He didn’t feel he was going in the right direction. He wants to flush everything out and start fresh.”
Allaire’s greatest protégé was Roy, so there will be no shortage of advice given to Varlamov, who entered the NHL with such promise with the Capitals.
“I want him to be comfortable,” Allaire said. “That's the main thing. After that, I want him to understand I'm not coming from a different planet. It's the same stuff. We don't want him to change everything.
“I've met with him a few times already. One of my trademarks is I try to make sure guys are feeling good and keep it simple, create good routine, make sure the guy is happy coming to the rink. Then after that, look at the tape and then find their best strength and build around it. I'm not there yet with Varly, but I expect that to come."