Islanders' Lou Lamoriello may be compelled to consider trading Semyon Varlamov
When the Islanders resume their season after their All-Star break/bye week, there will be a little less than a full month before the NHL trade deadline.
In Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Vegas at UBS Arena — the Islanders’ last game before their eight-day break — goalie Semyon Varlamov again showed he can be an asset the rest of the season, either for the Islanders or some other team.
“He was focused, square,” coach Lane Lambert said. “He was fresh and he certainly played a fantastic game.”
President/general manager Lou Lamoriello believes in building his teams from the net on out, and in Varlamov and fellow Russian Ilya Sorokin, the Islanders have one of the best tandems in the NHL. That will be crucial if the Islanders are to make a real playoff push.
But if the Islanders’ struggles through most of January continue until the trade deadline on March 3, Lamoriello will be compelled to consider dealing Varlamov for future assets.
Varlamov, 34, is in the final season of a four-year, $20 million deal. He backstopped the Islanders’ runs to the NHL semifinals in 2020 and 2021 but Sorokin, 27, is now the clear No. 1.
Sorokin went into the All-Star break with a 16-16-4 record, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. With a little more goal support from his teammates, he would be a strong Vezina Trophy candidate.
Varlamov is 9-6-1 with a 2.67 GAA and a .918 save percentage after making 45 saves against Vegas for his first win since injuring his groin on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas, which kept him out until Jan. 6. On Saturday, he made a highlight-reel paddle save on Reilly Smith and denied William Carrier’s penalty shot attempt in overtime. He also was very solid in making 36 saves in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in Ottawa.
“It was an important win for me,” Varlamov said of Saturday’s victory. “I feel really good today, especially playing two nights ago. I felt like I had better energy today and my conditioning was better.”
As the trade deadline approached last season, Varlamov made it clear that he did not want to be moved. He can submit a no-trade list of 16 teams.
But there are playoff contenders such as the Golden Knights, the Penguins and the Avalanche, Varlamov’s former team, that could be looking for goaltending help.
The next month may go a long way toward determining which team Varlamov finishes the season with.
Notes & quotes: The Islanders reassigned defenseman Samuel Bolduc and forwards Aatu Raty and Simon Holmstrom to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, which played at Hershey on Sunday and also has games on Friday and Saturday before that league’s All-Star break. Bolduc was voted to the Atlantic Division squad for the AHL All-Star Classic in his hometown of Laval, Quebec, on Feb. 5-6. The Islanders’ first practice after their All-Star break can be on Sunday before they play in Philadelphia the next night. Bolduc has played the last four games for the Islanders with Noah Dobson (lower body) unavailable.