Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov is slated to make $5.9 million this year, while his backup, 24-year-old Calvin Pickard, will make just $1 million.
Varlamov will almost assuredly start in net in the Avalanche’s Oct. 15 season opener against the Dallas Stars. But is it possible as the year progresses that Pickard earns more and more of those starts?
It doesn’t seem out of the question, when you consider the numbers each player’s put up the last two seasons and the fact that Colorado has a new head coach.
The Denver Post asked the recently hired Jared Bednar about the number of starts he expects Pickard to log this year. Bednar gave an interesting answer:
“I don’t have a number on it yet. We’re going to watch him through training camp. Obviously (Pickard’s) going to get a real good look at training camp with Varly gone, to play some exhibition games early. And then we’re going to sit down once Varly gets back how exactly we’re going to split the games. That will be determined on how each of them are playing along the way as well.”
If Pickard’s number of starts is going to be dictated by performance alone, he could cut into Varlamov’s playing time. Take a look at each player’s numbers from last season:
Varlamov: 57 starts, .914 save percentage, 2.81 goals against average
Pickard: 13 starts, .922 save percentage, 2.56 goals against average
Obviously, Pickard might struggle to maintain his efficiency if you increase his playing time. He’s only in his third NHL season, though, and still figuring things out.
Varlamov is in year nine, and his performance has steadily declined since that stellar 2013-14 season (.927 save percentage, 2.41 goals against average) when he finished fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy.