Islanders: To Trade or Not to Trade Semyon Varlamov

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders
Washington Capitals v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The NHL off-season provides plenty of chatter for the New York Islanders. Some of that chatter is towards Semyon Varlamov in which the question is to trade or not or not to trade.

In a perfect world keeping Varlamov gives the Islanders two number one goalies. That is an excellent insurance policy to have, albeit an expensive one in today's NHL salary cap world.


There are plenty of teams looking for a number one goalie this off-season. The fact is that Varly is a proven starting netminder with a very reasonable cap hit of $5 million (his actual salary for this year is only $4 million). He's not a long-term obligation with one year remaining on his deal which makes him an excellent pick-up for several contending teams who have goalie concerns.

The interest is there for Varlamov and that brings value. He does only have one year left on his contract so that will diminish what Lou Lamoriello can expect in regards to a return. The Isles's top brass might feel that not only is Ilya Sorokin now the team's number one goaltender but someone who should be starting 55 games or so on the regular season. Not to mention to be their guy come playoff time.

Freeing up cap space to utilize in other areas of need while possibly picking up future assets (draft picks and/or prospects) could be a brilliant road for the Isles to travel.


There remains the possibility Varlamov nix's a deal. Varly likes it on Long Island and has a 16-team no-trade list. Word back at the 2022 NHL Trade deadline was that Varlamov blocked a potential deal between the Isles and the Edmonton Oilers.

If the Isles can figure out the right deal and move Varlamov, who will be the backup to Sorokin? There is no young goalie in the system ready to take that role.

Could Lamoriello re-sign Corey Schneider or convince Thomas Greiss to return on one-year deals to be the backup to Sorokin? Is either guy still capable of being a solid backup who can start 25 games or so next year? If Sorokin were to go down with an injury for a month could either guy hold down the fort during that time in a very contested Eastern Conference where every point is precious? There are some serious questions to answer there.

Lamoriello could invest more cap dollars to get a better upgrade at the backup position be it a trade or free-agent signing. The problem with that is such a goalie will probably come with a $2.5 million or so cap hit. In such a case the Isles would only be saving $2.5 million in cap savings while downgrading the goalie talent. The question then becomes is trading Varly worth it?

A lot of questions arise if Lamoriello is considering moving Varlamov. That is of course if he can pull off such a trade given the obstacles.