Ever since Avalanche legendary goaltender Patrick Roy retired in 2003, there have been 12, yes… 12, goalies to play in net for the Avs since #33 was sent to the rafters. With Semyon Varlamov now in his second season for the Burgundy and Blue.. Do we finally have the franchise goalie to succeed the legend of Saint Patrick?
Don’t get me wrong… Patrick Roy’s 262 wins, 2.28 GAA and .917 SV % with the Avalanche are and always will be hard for any goaltender wearing the “A” to top. Let’s not forget the two Stanley Cups he brought to the city of Denver, not to mention his overall legendary status that still flows through the Mile High City. But when will we have a franchise goaltender like that again? Let’s take a look at the goalies who have come and gone through Denver since Roy hung up the skates.
When Roy retired, David Aebischer, who had been his back-up since 2001, took over the reins until 2006. In his 2-year tenure as starter after Roy’s retirement (remember there was an NHL-wide lock-out in 04-05), he posted a 89-58-14 record in 174 games, 2.35 GAA, and .915 SV %. Those are some pretty good numbers for the goaltender that first carried the burden of succeeding Roy. Unfortunately for Aebischer, the lock-out in 04-05 that lasted the entire season would end up being the death sentence for him in net for the Avs. When the 2005-06 season rolled around, Aebischer could never get back to his pre-lockout form, and his inconsistent play eventually led to his being traded to the Canadiens at the trade deadline that year.
In that trade, the Avs would receive their next goaltender in franchise history, Jose Theodore. Theodore was the Avs starter from 2006-2008 where he posted a 42-39-5 record in 91 games, 2.76 GAA, and .902 SV %. Not as good of numbers as Aebischer had in the tenure before him, but good enough to lead the Avs to the second round of the playoffs in both years here as the starter. His two years as starter wouldn’t come without turmoil though, as he lost the starting job to Peter Budaj at a point during the 2007-08 season after posting a 13-15-1 record through 29 games where he had 3.29 GAA, and .891 SV %. He would eventually regain the starting role later in that year and post a 15-6-2 record the rest of the way, along with a 2.40 GAA and .910 SV %. He would eventually part ways with the Avalanche after the 07-08 season to sign with Washington, leaving the starting role for the Avs in net in the hands of the one who briefly stole it from under Theodore’s nose.. Peter Budaj.
Peter Budaj was with the Avs from 2006-2011. As a member of the Avs, he posted a 101-91-27 record in 242 games, along with a 2.83 GAA, and .901 SV %. He had to wait his turn though, as he spent some time in the minors, and some time on the bench backing up Theodore and Aebishcher in his Avalanche tenure. He spent 34 games as a back-up in 2005-06, splitting duties with Theodore in 2006-07, and was once again a back-up in 2007-08 before he eventually was awarded the starting role for the 2008-09 season. That didn’t go very smoothly though, as he would split time with Andrew Raycroft, where they both struggled to find consistency, and where the Avs would miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.
Andrew Raycroft would sign with the Canucks after just one season, but Budaj would stick around… as a back-up once again. This time he would back up newly signed Craig Anderson who came from the Panthers. Anderson won the starting job from Budaj in training camp and had a stellar first season for the Avs, going 38-25-7 with a 2.63 GAA and .917 SV %. In that first season, Anderson would become just the fourth goaltender in franchise history to reach the 30 win mark, joining Patrick Roy, David Aebishcher, and Peter Budaj. Anderson would prove worthy all season long and into the playoffs, but the Avs were ousted by the Sharks in the first round in 6 games, despite leading the series 2-1 at one point. Craig Anderson’s next season for the Avs would be nothing like the first. His lack of consistency and struggle in net would lead to his starting job being taken away and given to Budaj, and his eventual trade to the Senators at the deadline of the 2010-11 season. Anderson’s numbers with the Avalanche would wind up being a 51-40-10 record in 104 games, a 2.83 GAA, and a .911 SV %. Budaj would finish out the rest of the 2010-11 season, but then signed as a free-agent with the Canadiens.
Other notable goalies that have played in net for the Avs, but not had a big impact, are Philippe Sauve (2004), Tommy Salo (2004), Vitali Kolesnik (2006), Tyler Weiman (2008), and Brian Elliot (2011). Jean-Sebastian Giguere (2012-13) is currently the back-up for the Avs.
And after all that insane history in net for the Avs since Roy, now there’s Semyon Varlamov. Varly is in his second season for the Avalanche, where he has thus far posted a 28-25-3 record in 56 games, a 2.54 GAA, and .915 SV %. Not stellar numbers, but the numbers don’t really tell the story of how he has played for the Avs. When I think of Varlamov, I see a goaltender of the future for this Avalanche franchise. At age 24, there is still so much promise, and so much room for improvement. We did give up quite a lot to Washington to get him (1st-round pick in 2012, 2nd-round pick in 2013), but I do think it will end up being well worth it. We just might have the first franchise goalie since Saint Patrick Roy hung up the skates. Only time will tell, but I’m very optimistic.