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New York Islanders No Drop Off From Semyon Varlamov to Robin Lehner

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 07: Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche tends goal against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center on November 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 07: Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche tends goal against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center on November 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Missing out on Robin Lehner and landing Semyon Varlamov didn’t leave a good feeling for New York Islanders fans. But the numbers don’t see a big regression.

There’s no question that the loss of Robin Lehner was a blow for the New York Islanders. Coming off a 0.930SV% and 2.13GAA and a Vezina nod, Lehner was a huge reason for the Islanders success.

The Islanders should never have lost Lehner. He was perfect for the organization and its system. But the Islanders got bold and decided to pick up Semyon Varlamov for four years at $5 million. It was a sting to see him go and get a goalie that was likely worse.

Making that feeling worse is seeing Robin Lehner get a single year deal for the same money with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Losing Lehner was a tough realization, but his replacement won’t have such a negative impact for the New York Islanders.

Minor Negative Impact

A few weeks ago, just after the New York Islanders announced the Varlamov signing, Co-Expert Matt O’Leary wrote about Varlamov‘s career numbers. Matt wasn’t the only one to run the numbers.

The Athletics Dom Luszczyszyn (subscription required) looked at every offseason move made by all 31 NHL teams and measured who got better and who did, and by how much. Based on game score value-added, what team added the most wins and by how many. Or what team lost wins, and by how much.

The Islanders ranked 28th of 31 teams with a -1 wins added. Dom writes that the number of negative wins for the Islanders is due to the swap between Varlamov and Lehner.

And that’s fair. Lehner is objectively the better goalie of the two. But if the Islanders only lose but two-point from last year after the switch, I’d be OK with that. And I’m sure you would too. That’s still a 101 point season.

It’s certainly not the drop off I thought the Islanders might have had when I initially reflected on the switch. I was a bit more doom and gloom when it initially happened. I’m also surprised that the stats aren’t worse. With the season that Semyon Varlamov had last season, I thought it was going to be worse. A single win drop-off isn’t awful.

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The New York Islanders might rank 28th in Dom’s listing, but that listing doesn’t show where teams will rank, but by what degree did they get better or worse. The Islanders might be at the bottom of the listing, but the switch from Lehner to Varlamov won’t be terrible.

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