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Avs 20th Anniversary Team: Semyon Varlamov

by Samantha Poulos / Colorado Avalanche profiles the players named to the Avalanche's 20th Anniversary Team.

Semyon Varlamov
is making his mark on the Colorado Avalanche franchise and that fact was not overlooked when goaltenders were voted on for the Avs’ 20th Anniversary Team roster.

Entering the 2015-16 season, Varlamov was ranked third on the franchise’s wins list with 106, just one behind Dan Bouchard (107), whom he passed on Oct. 29 in a 2-1 victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Varlamov’s name is now behind only Patrick Roy (262) in terms of wins as he climbs up the rankings as one of the best netminders in the organization’s history.

“It’s exciting and it’s pretty cool to be a part of the team and part of the best players since Colorado moved here from Quebec. I appreciate everybody who voted for me,” Varlamov said about the honor. “Thank you guys. The thing is, it’s pretty nice. It means I’ve done something for this club.”

The goalkeeper’s 219 games played rank fourth in franchise history behind Roy (478), Peter Budaj (242) and Bouchard (225)—two players he could surpass during the Avalanche’s 20th season.

“Well especially with Patrick, it’s a big deal for me,” Varlamov said of the company he shares. “Patrick has been the all-time best. He won four Stanley Cups and had a great NHL career. It’s really nice to be a part of this group.”

Originally selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2006 Entry Draft, the Samara, Russia, native was acquired by Colorado on July 1, 2011, in exchange for a first and second-round selections (Flip Forsberg, Mike Winther) in the 2012 Entry Draft.

“I’m just really excited to be here, and I really enjoy playing for and living in Denver,” Varlamov said about the Mile High City. “I like this place a lot.”

The 6-foot-2, 209-pound keeper finished the 2014-15 campaign with a career record of 136-92-32. He also owned 24-14 record in shootouts with a .740 save percentage that ranked sixth all-time.

Among Russian goaltenders, the 27-year-old’s 139 career wins rank fourth all-time, trailing only Evgeni Nabokov (353), Nikolai Khabibulin (333) and Ilya Bryzgalov (221).

In the 2011-12 campaign, Varlamov posted four goalless games away from Pepsi Center, tying a franchise record for road shutouts in a single season (Roy, 2001-02), tying Johnan Hedberg and Tim Thomas for the league high. Varlamov also posted a league-best 8-0 shootout record, allowing just two goals on 24 attempts to lead all NHL goaltenders with a .917 shootout save percentage—the second-highest in NHL history.

According to Varlamov, his favorite memory was Colorado’s 2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoff run in which the squad went seven games against the Minnesota Wild before falling in the first round.

That same year, he was also named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. Varlamov became just the second goalie in franchise history to earn this honor, and was also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy after setting a single-season franchise record with 41 wins.

In 2014-15, the goaltender set new career highs when he made 54 saves on Jan. 6 in a 2-0 victory at the Chicago Blackhawks and had 22 consecutive starts from Jan. 15- March 8. Varlamov also tied his career-high with a six-game win streak from March 4-19 and was named the NHL’s Second Star of the week twice.

Through parts of five campaigns with Colorado, Varlamov has been the keeper of the cage in 219 games, posting a 109-85-21 record with 14 shutouts and a 2.62 goals-against average. His .917 save percentage is tied with Rott for the highest in Avalanche and Nordiques history.

“Every year it’s new and exciting. So every summer when you are training, you are just thinking about the new season and how exciting it’s going to play for Colorado and to be a part of the team and part of this organization,” Varlamov said of what it’s like skating with his favorite hockey team from when he was growing up. “I’m very happy.”

Playing in the Central Division and facing some of the league’s best teams, every game for the Avalanche is a fight.

“I try to do my best every game, and every time I step on the ice I try to work hard and play my best game,” Varlamov said of the 2015-16 season. “I haven’t played my best so far, but it’s going to be better for sure. You have to always stay positive. It doesn’t matter. So every time, I try to walk into the rink with a big smile and be a positive person.”

Varlamov is especially thankful for the continuous support he receives from the fans every night the Burgundy and Blue takes the ice at the Pepsi Center. Their support is what keeps him climbing the mountain to be the best in the business.

“I just want to say thanks to the fans, the fans who always support me,” he said. “I’m talking about the true fans who believe in this team always. They know there’s going to be ups and downs, but I appreciate their support.”

Varlamov and the rest of the Avalanche’s 20th Anniversary Team will be honored in an on-ice ceremony before the Avalanche’s matchup against the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 7 at Pepsi Center. Forwards Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk, Joe Sakic and Valeri Kamensky and defensemen Ray Bourque, Adam Foote, Rob Blake and Sandis Ozolinsh will be in attendance.

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