Monday, September 08, 2008

Could Simeon Varlamov Be Headed To The KHL?

This evening brings us yet another interesting interview translation over at the Alex Ovetjkin blog, this time with Caps top goaltending prospect Simeon Varlamov... 's father. Money quote:

Q. In your opinion, can we expect Simeon to return back to Russia during this season?

A. First of all he must see how he would be treated [in North America]. If all goes well he certainly won't return. But if the situation in terms of the chances to break in will look hopeless, then we'll talk through his American agent about the possibility that the club could rent him.... After all, one thing is to play in the NHL, and completely different one is to play in the AHL, which is greatly inferior to our Russian league. But it's not in Simeon's plans to flee from the NHL, everything will be done officially through negotiations.

The elder Varlamov goes on to say that if Simeon doesn't make the Caps, he will go to Hershey (where the goaltending situation is anything but settled), but a quote like that has to give the organization at least a little heartburn... or does it simply give them another option?

Russian hockey dads causing a stir in the media... another reminder of our cultural differences?

25 comments:

bradley said...

Didn't Simeon himself already admit he'd need to spend time in Hershey? I seem to remember him saying as much when he was interviewed during development camp this summer.

I doubt anything like that ever happens. Varlamov knows that GMGM isn't going to let him go back (or he will know soon), and he's already shown way too much enthusiasm for this team and the NHL to jeapordize his career like that. As long as the organization doesn't treat him like crap, that is.

Tyler said...

I think that the AHL is likely on par with the KHL, at least. I've been watching the NYT Slap Shot blog's KHL coverage, and just judging from what I've read about who the "top" players are on KHL teams... well, parity at best.

(Let's just say that JF Fortin was listed as one KHL team's top D. And I don't think he'd enter the year as, say, Hershey's top D.)

Tyler said...

(Great catch JP.)

Brian said...

Not to bring politics into this thread, but I see a lot of posturing from Russia these days. In the hockey world, I see a collective hockey program that has produced some superstars but the overall quality has dropped since the Summit Series days. When I see these interviews and read these quotes, I wonder if there is one answer for Russian media and another for North American media. We get hockey leaders talking tough and we get players talking like their homeland is the best place to play hockey.

I think there is a lot of pressure on Russia's young hockey stars to say all the right things back home so their countrymen get a warm-fuzzy feeling.

Tyler said...

Fair, smart point Brian.

JP said...

@ Bradley: Here's the quote you referenced:

"I know it will be hard to break into the Capitals roster. But I will try. I am even prepared to spend a year or two in the AHL.... I know how much they pay in the AHL. But at this stage I'm not interested in money."

Obviously, that's a very encouraging (albeit old/pre-Theodore/pre-Radulov) quote.

I'm not worried at all, but it's pretty clear that his father at least wants to keep that KHL door open (and even then, it's clear that they're going to work with the team, and not behind its back, with the implied intention of returning when an NHL spot was available - read: next year).

On a somewhat related note, I've always thought that if the KHL posed any threat to the NHL, it's in poaching the 18-, 19- and 20-year-old Russians, the guys who a) would be constrained by NHL entry-level deals and could make much more back home and b) aren't ready or interested in the cultural change. I wonder how many Russians there will be in Hershey, PA (not just on the Bears - I mean in the entire city) this year other than Varlamov and Viktor Dovgan...

Gustafsson said...

Back during Development Camp, we asked Varlamov why the NHL instead of the KHL? He said the NHL is the greatest league in the world and didn't give any indication that he would want to play in Russia.

http://www.onfrozenblog.com/2008/07/10/simeon-varlamov-meets-the-media/

JP said...

I don't think anyone doubts the kid's intention to play in the NHL. The question (if there is any) seems to be whether spending 2008-09 in the AHL would be better for his development than playing it in the K would be. His dad seems to imply the latter, while his own quote (above) suggests the former (which is undoubtedly also how the organization feels).

Anonymous said...

Breaking! Varlamov confirmed to OFB that the NHL is better than the KHL! MUST CREDIT OFB!

Sombrero Guy said...

Well assuming they worked something out with the team, would it be the end of the world? The downside is Varlamov would miss an entire season of getting used to North America, the plus side is he would get more playing time as a KHL tesm's #1 whereas now he might split with McChesney in hershey. This would allow more playing time for Neuvirth who would split with McChesney at Hershey. Right now we have three goalie prospects and only room for two in Hershey. If Varlamov stays, does Neuvirth get loaned to another AHL team? Does he start in the ECHL?

Personally, I'd rather see Varlamov in Hershey.

Gustafsson said...

@JP,
Good point and I understand what you were saying. I only meant that he seems focused on playing in the NHL and may realize that he's a strained knee or two away (though they may send Machesney up first)

@"Anonymous"
We are not looking for credit or praise, we just happened to roll tape during the press conference and thought people would want to see. JP knows us better than that.

JP said...

If I might talk completely out of my wazoo, I think we'll see Varlamov in Hershey splitting time with Cheeser and Neuvirth in South Carolina to start the season. The benefit there, of course, is that all the team's assets are under its control and tutelage. Also, Neuvirth can get as heavy a workload as he can handle and Varlamov will get all the minutes he can earn.

If Varlamov is lights out, I could see Machesney being loaned, but I can't really see the organization putting either of the other guys in a situation where the coach and/or system might not be in the player's best interest, developmentally.

(And gotta love the anonymice, don't you, G?)

Gustafsson said...

"If I might talk completely out of my wazoo, I think we'll see Varlamov in Hershey splitting time with Cheeser and Neuvirth in South Carolina to start the season. The benefit there, of course, is that all the team's assets are under its control and tutelage."

Bingo. I agree with that 100%.

Also, that's the "beauty" of the internet... to talk big behind anonymity where you would never in the presence of others.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Have a feeling that whole KHL may not last/expand like many have feared. Its almost entirely based directly or indirectly on a very volatile commodity, oil.
2) The price has dropped 25% in the past 2 months alone, likely hurting the bottom lines of these owners. They certainly can't pay those high salaries with ticket revenue!

Tyler said...

OFB is the third nipple of the blogosphere. (Edit that one into a hagiographic compliment, kids!)

Josh said...

If you don't like OFB, anonymous, you must be a spy from the "old" print media, so go pound sand. OFB, JP, Peerless, and others help get us through the LLLOOONNNGGGG Summers and deserve praise for their work.
FauxRumors, I also agree that with 5000 seat stadiums, no major NHL-like television revenue, and No merge with the Elitserien , SM-liiga, Czech Extraliga, or even the DEL, Slovak Extraliga, and Swiss National League A that the KHL will Change in how much money they can offer once all the "Prodigal Russian Sons" don't come flocking home.

JP said...

@ Josh: What, we're chopped liver once the season rolls around? ;-)

OrderedChaos said...

Cannnn you feel
The loooove to-night...
Tyler, the fact that you broke out the word "hagiographic" on our behalf is plenty flattering, thanks. ;)

I'm sure Papa Varlamov influences his son, but Simeon seems pretty motivated to prove he's a top-notch player in the world's best league, whatever it takes.

Regardless, in these slow hockey news times it's a juicy tidbit and clearly a good conversation starter!

Tyler said...

@ Josh: I agree that the Rink and PP are extraordinary, indispensable hockey blogs.

JP said...

Enough.

If people want to pick fights, go engage some of the troglodytes commenting on Tarik's blog. If people want to talk hockey, please continue doing so here.

Doug said...

I post regularly on OFB, Japers and Dump&Chase. Most of the time, I simply sign with my first name, but occasionally, in spite of my best efforts otherwise, it comes out as "anonymous". I seldom have said anything that bright or earth shattering and on the flip side, seldom have I been that dumb.
dcbenskin@comcast.net

breed16 said...

Listening to Varlamov's interview on Caps.com, I get another impression: he wants to be coached by North American goalie coaches. He seems determined to become the best goalie he can be, and convinced that the only way to do that is in North America. Is Russian goalie coaching so limited, or am I reading too much into this?

JP said...

@ Doug: No worries - we know you're legit. It's the drive-by anonymous commentors with their internet muscles that are more than a little annoying.

And, truth be told, I like when people use a name/handle b/c it helps me to get to know them, their views, etc. At the end of the day, any of us is just as "anonymous" as the next guy, really.

bradley said...

breed16 -

Russian goalie coaching is almost nonexistent, especially from a technical perspective. Last year Varlamov got a Finnish goalie coach to help him learn some technique, and he's shown a big improvement.

DC FURY said...

What I've always liked about Varlamov is this attitude. I know we (that is to say I) haven't seen too much of him, but his eagerness to go to the AHL, and his driven personality give me high hopes for him. This article to me sounds like his dad talking. To me this sounds like a situation where his dad is very loyal to Russia and would like his son to play there instead of coming to the far superior NHL. We'll see how this shakes out, but my guess is Varlamov will keep fighting until the caps tell him flat out that it's never gonna happen.