Islanders 2019-20 player grade: Semyon Varlamov was as advertised

Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t a great season for New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, but it wasn’t bad either.

After a big contract in free agency, the 2019-20 season would be our first glimpse of Semyon Varlamov in a New York Islanders sweater. Unfairly for him, he’d have to live in the shadow of the Islanders 2018-19 season.

With a league-best 0.927SV% and lowest goals-against in the NHL, the Islanders had easily the best goalie duo in the league. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss‘s Jennings Trophy-winning performance last year helped power the Isles to the post-season and into the second round of the playoffs.

Whatever Varalmov did in 2019-20, it would be measured against what the Isles did the season before. Even though it shouldn’t. It’s a long-winded way of saying: “only this year matters”. Looking at the numbers, Varlamov had a very “OK” year in 2019-20.

Got What We Bought

Through 45 games played (39 starts) in 2019-20, Varlamov held a 19-14-6 record. In those games, Varlamov averaged a 2.62GAA and a 0.914SV%. Which is right around his career average of 2.56GAA and a 0.916SV% before coming to the Island.

He’s been an up-and-down goalie this year for the Isles. He could be an absolute wall in the nets on some nights. Like when he stopped all 32 shots from his former club back in January.

But on other nights he could let up the softest of soft goals. Leaving you sad, angry, and a little confused as to why he’s on a four-year $20 million deal.

Overall, we got what we bought with Varlamov. The Isles went after a career 2.56GAA goalie and Varlamov has given them basically that. With the rest of shot-stoppers in the league averaging a 2.87GAA and 0.910SV%, Varlamov has given us slightly above average goaltending.

He’s been alright. Not great. But alright.

There’s something to be said about the absolute collapse that the Islanders went through when the calendar turned to 2020.

In the 2019 portion of the season (24 games played), Varlamov held a 2.21GAA and a 0.920SV%. Great numbers. If he held those numbers all season long he’d be in the top ten for both goalie stats. But as we know, those numbers didn’t hold.

In the 2020 potion of the season (21 games played), Varlamov’s numbers dropped to an average 2.71GAA and a 0.908SV%. He’s still a good goalie that fits well into the Islanders system. But when the Islanders aren’t playing to their strength Varlamov can’t help them bail them out.

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Player grade: B

I think a B grade reflects how good he was at the start of the year, and just how bad he was near the end of the year. Hopefully, with a healthy Isles squad going into the play-in round, Varly can be at his best once again.