Here's a pretty succinct article about our top 3 young goaltenders. With people essentially calling for Olie's head, I figure we might as well be educated on what is waiting in the wings. Unfortunately, I don't think the forecast will be very good for at least another couple of years.
or the past decade, Olaf Kolzig has been the full-time starting goaltender for the Washington Capitals, a face of the franchise. Kolzig helped lead the Caps to the Stanley Cup finals in 1998, and was honored two years later with the Vezina Trophy. While the Caps have failed to reach the playoffs over the last five seasons, Kolzig has remained consistent in goal. In that span, he has started more than 75 percent of their games, each time saving an average of 28.5 out of 31.3 shots.
Next year, Kolzig will turn 38 and become an unrestricted free agent. Should the team fail to extend his contract, veteran options exist, including backup Brent Johnson and career minor-leaguer Frederic Cassivi. But it's time to look to the future in nets. Four young goalies are striving in the organization to show that they are capable of taking over when Kolzig's time is through.
It is widely believed that the torch will be passed to Russian butterfly Semen Varlamov. Varlamov, 19, stands 6'1, 174 pounds. He was a first-round draft pick in 2006 and is considered his country's best young netminder. He was signed in July to a three-year, entry-level contract, but he remains in Russia due to complications with the lack of a transfer agreement between the Russian Federation and the IIHF. Varlamov is currently playing in the Super League with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl where he is their No. 1 goaltender.
Earlier this fall, Varlamov was part of the train wreck known as the Canada-Russia Super Series. Varlamov was in net for three games as he and the Russian junior team were overmatched by coach Brent Sutter's indomitable squad.
Varlamov started Games 1, 3, and 6, all Russian losses. The low point was Game 3 as he allowed three goals on just four shots and was pulled after 20 minutes.
Varlamov's season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is off to a much better start. Through 12 games he is 8-3-0 with a 2.53 GAA.
Czech butterfly Michal Neuvirth (2006 second-round draft pick, 34th overall) was hoping to land a spot in Hershey this year but he was sent back to the Plymouth Whalers in the hopes that one more season of junior hockey will allow him to refine his skills. He was traded to the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 12 as Plymouth was faced with the league's Nov. 14 deadline to reduce their slate of overage players to four or fewer.
Neuvirth came to North America in 2006 after playing three years with Sparta Prague and winning a bronze medal with the Czech Under-18 team at the 2006 IIHF World U-18 Championships in Sweden. Neuvirth later said that his most memorable game came in that tournament, a 3-0 shutout of the host Swedish team.
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