3 goaltender options for the NY Islanders if Semyon Varlamov is to miss any time

Jan 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) before the
Jan 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) before the / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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For the second time in six days, NY Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov has picked up an injury. In the Isles' first game after the holiday break, Varlamov entered the game for the third period in relief after the Isles allowed six goals in the second. He'd finish the game, but the next day, it was announced that he picked up a knock, missing just one game before returning.

Last night, Varly left the game in the first period, as it's unclear if he's picked up something new or reaggravated the same injury from six days earlier.

In Varly's absence, the Isles recalled Ken Appleby from the Bridgeport Islanders, who backed up Ilya Sorokin in the 5-1 victory against the Washington Capitals. Appleby has been the backup in Bridgeport for the majority of the season, appearing in 11 games and posting a 2.88 GAA and .897 Sv%.

Typically in the starters crease for the B -Isles, Jakub Skarek was passed up on by Lou Lamoriello in favor of Appleby. Skarek's numbers aren't impressive by any means this season, appearing in 18 games with a 3.51 GAA and .877 SV%.

There's been no update on the extent of Varlamov's injury as of yet, but if he were to miss any length of time, it appears the Isles don't trust their third and fourth-string goaltenders to spell Sorokin every few games. Sorokin has faced the most rubber of any goaltender this season and can't take on much more of a workload.

The Isles may have to look outside their organization to replace Varlamov for the time being if necessary. Here are three goaltenders the Isles could consider.

Eric Comrie, Buffalo Sabres

Eric Comrie was recently waived by the Buffalo Sabres, as there's a goaltender log jame in Western New York between Comrie, Devon Levi, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Comrie was deemed most expendable but cleared waivers yesterday and will join the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

Comrie's been with Buffalo the last two seasons, signing a two-year $3.6M contract. The addition of Levi at the tail end of last season has pushed Comrie down the depth chart, as he's struggled to keep the puck out of the net this season. He's appeared in seven games this season, sporting a 1-5 record with a 4.01 GAA and .863 Sv%.

Comrie isn't an ideal replacement for Varlamov, but he can take a few starts off Sorokin's place until Varlamov's return and then could be waived.

He carries a $1.8M cap hit this season, and Lamoriello could likely convince the Sabres to retain some salary on their end. He’d at most cost no more than a late round pick.

Ilya Samsonov, Toronto Maple Leafs

It's been a brutal season for Ilya Samsonov with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, not going how he or the organization would have hoped after first signing before last season. He was signed to become a goalie-by-committee with Matt Murray, ultimately taking the crease after another Murray injury. Samsonov has been nowhere near the goalie the Leafs were hoping for, as he's become a shell of himself from his early days with the Capitals.

Samsonov was waived on New Year's Eve, passing through on New Year's Day as he went unclaimed. He won't immediately report to the Toronto Marlies, as GM Brad Treliving believes his goaltender needs a week away in order to reset.

"It’s a physical and mental reset where he can get away from preparing for the next game and all the pressures that come with it," Treliving said. "To me, I’m seeing the mental drives the bus a little bit. It’s hard to correct the technical side when there's a lot going on. So we're trying to just let the air out of the balloon a little bit."

Samsonov's numbers have been cruel, posting a 3.94 GAA and .862 Sv% - the second-worst of any NHL goaltender to appear in at least seven games this season.

It sounds like Treliving believes Samsonov is still an integral part of the Leafs this season, but if a team were to come around willing to take a portion of the $3.55M cap hit off his plate, he'd surely listen.

It's far from the ideal move for the Islanders, but there's not much out there in the goaltender market, and possibly having a fellow Russian to split the crease with Sorokin could help spark something Sasonov showed in Washington. This would only be much of a consideration if Varly is to miss significant time.

Jaroslav Halak, Free Agent

It's been over five years since Jaroslav Halak last pulled on an Islanders sweater, but it appears the 38-year-old still has the desire to strap on the pads.

Two weeks ago, Halak was on a PTO with the Carolina Hurricanes but was never signed as it appears the two sides mutually agreed to go their separate ways.

"[The decision to end the agreement] was more on his side. It was a mutual kind of thing," said Rod Brind'Amour on Halak's release. "That's a tough spot to be for him. I think he realized that it's tough at the end of the road to make those decisions when you've got a family and everything."

A former resident of Long Island, Halak could feel more comfortable returning to his old home than starting over in a new city. He wouldn't cost anything in terms of draft picks and would be signed to the league minimum.

Halak played just miles from UBS Arena last season, posting a 10-9 record with the NY Rangers, along with a 2.72 GAA, .903 SV%, and one shutout.