The New York Islanders have a new goalie. Let’s take a look at Semyon Varlamov’s career has gone by the numbers.
This past week, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the departure of New York Islanders goalie, Robin Lehner. He left in controversial fashion, so it’s understandable why he’s gotten more of the attention, but we want to transition focus to the new goalie, Semyon Varlamov.
Over the course of his 11-year career, Varlamov has been an inconsistent goalie. There are years where he looks like one of the best goalies in the league, and other years where he looks completly lost.
This past year leans more towards the side of looking lost. He had a .909 save percentage and a 2.87 goals against average. Neither of those numbers are very good but we’ve also seen worse goalie play from the Islanders (looking at you 2017-2018).
Both of those important goalie figures were well off from his career averages. His career save percentage is a respectable .916 while his goals against average is 2.68. Both are fairly average numbers in today’s game, and you can live with that from your goalie.
Here’s where the inconsistency comes into play. Five times over the course of his career he’s had a save percentage higher than his career average and six times he had a goals against average that was lower.
His career averages are hurt due to his years where he looks lost, for instance, 2016-2017. He had a .898 save percentage and a 3.38 goals against average. That’s such an outlier of a season that it hurts his career numbers.
Should you expect a 31-year-old Varlamov to perform like he did in 2013-2014 when he had a .927 save percentage and a 2.41 goals against average? Absolutely not, but it is fair to expect him to improve his numbers due to Piero Greco and Mitch Korn.
Both of those guys helped Lehner and Greiss to get back on track and the same should be said about Varlamov. If you’re getting a save percentage of .918 to .922 and a goals against average between 2.50 to 2.70 you should be able to live with that if you’re the Islanders.
Now, does that mean Varlamov’s four-year $20 million deal is worth it? Absolutely not. The term is a real head-scratcher considering the goalie market outside of Sergei Bobrovsky. Ideally, Varlamov eventually comes the backup to Ilya Sorokin, who’s KHL deal expires after this season.
The first two years should be tandems (Greiss/Varlamov and then Sorokin/Varlamov). After that, the Islanders might just have the most expensive backup in the league, if he doesn’t eventually get bought out.