Semyon Varlamov is a good spot. As he told the Russian news agency Sport-Express, the 23-year-old goaltender has “options.”
Varlamov’s status is one of the biggest question marks of the Capitals’ offseason. And according to Sport-Express’ interview with the restricted free agent, he’d like to be in Washington next year and thinks he can compete with Michal Neuvirth for the starting spot. There have been reports that Varlamov could return home to Russian to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Varlamov told Sport-Express that the Caps have made offers but none that work for him.
“It’s very probable that I will remain in the NHL,” he said, as quoted by sports.ru’s English site. “I’d like very much to sign a contract in America – even for a smaller money than I’m offered in Russia.”
His deal in Russia is a complicated one. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl owns Varlamov’s KHL rights. But as Sport-Express reporter Slava Malamud pointed out, that team is poor and is interested in selling off those rights. SKA St. Petersburg, one of the richer KHL teams, could make that move.
But Varlamov talked about wanting to win the Vezina Trophy and the Stanley Cup – things he can only accomplish in the NHL. He’d like to do it as the man with the Caps, too.
“I don’t consider myself to be a clear second goalie at Washington,” he told Sport-Express. “Yes, this year I did not take part in the playoff, but it was because I had missed some three weeks right before the end of the regular season.”
Next year could be a chance to start from scratch, Varlamov said. It remains to be seen whether the Caps will provide him that opportunity.