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Prospect Pulse

Prospect Pulse: Semen Varlamov

I attended a midget minor AAA (Bantam AAA in Canada) tournament this weekend in Detroit and had the opportunity to speak with some scouts. I specifically asked a number of them about goaltenders, and to a man they all admitted that no one really knows what to look for. One guy just basically said he watches to see if he can make saves. Pretty simple stuff. In light of these conversations and the fact that I don’t know much about goalies, I thought it seemed like time for my 3rd ever Prospect Pulse featuring a goalie.

In addition to having a funny first name, Semen Varlamov is also a first round pick of the Washington Capitals. The Caps, who obviously have no aversion to drafting Russians, see Varlamov as the heir apparent to Olaf Kolzig. Having worked his way up the Russian hockey ladder, the 19 year old is currently playing in the Russian Super League with Yaroslav Locomotiv. He put up a 15-7-6 record last year, with a 2.12 GAA in the defensively minded league.

The butterfly-style Russian impressed scouts at both the World Junior Championships and the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, where he kept the mediocre Russian squad competitive with the CHL All-Star teams. Scouting reports on Varlamov are fairly predictable, with the usual platitudes about a quick glove hand and good reflexes. Fairly standard stuff. The one unique aspect of the various reports is that he can change his style of play to suit the game and the shooters. While he prefers the butterfly style, he is apparently quite adept at playing a throw back stand up game that can sometimes mystify shooters.

The weaknesses in his game are his skating, stick-handling and maturity. Though one should remember he is only 19. There are also concerns about him being Russian, but the fact remains that if he can stop pucks, he will be in the NHL.