After the NY Islanders acquired and extended Bo Horvat for the next eight years following the 2022-23 seasons, it's hard to imagine that general manager Lou Lamoriello will head into the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline looking to sell backup goaltender Semyon Varlamov. It seems Lamoriello has an understanding that prior to Horvat, the Islanders had the pieces in place to be a playoff team, but were just missing that scoring touch that has eluded them for years on end. The Isles are now looking to force their way back into playoff position with their newly acquired goal scorer that will line up next to Mathew Barzal on the first line. However, if the Islanders aren't where they want to be by March 3rd, could Lamoriello continue to shake things up and deal Varlamov as Ilya Sorokin is the clear No.1 goaltender?
Mike P. Johnson of NHL Network states that the Los Angeles Kings are in a goaltender crisis. Jonathan Quick isn't quite holding up like he used to and although Phoenix Copley is a nice story, he's largely unproven and especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings have all the right pieces. Anze Kopitar, Kevin Fiala, and Drew Doughty are helping lead the way for the Kings who sit in second place in the Pacific Division. However, according to Johnson, the Kings would be in an even better position if it weren't for their goaltending holding them back.
“If you get good goaltending and you’re (the Los Angeles Kings), could (they) win two rounds?" Johnson asks rhetorically. "Absolutely, and why not Semyon Varlamov? He’s a pending unrestricted free agent. We know Lou Lamoriello is going to make changes, he’s already started.”
Johnson says the Islanders could net a "B-level prospect and a third-rounder" in exchange for Varlamov's services as a pending UFA. It's an interesting idea, especially given the fact that the Islanders just traded away their top prospect in Aatu Räty, and a top-12 protected first-round draft pick. Yet, it just doesn't feel like the type of move Lamoriello would make.
Last season, even with the Islanders clearly out of playoff contention at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, Lamoriello extended Zach Parise and Cal Clutterbuck rather than selling them for assets. Mistake or not, that's how Lamoriello does business. He's invested in the Islanders by acquiring Horvat and made it clear he believes this group can win, so it's unlikely he sells Varlamov as he traditionally likes to build his teams from the net out.
Who knows, maybe Lamoriello will surprise us all and do something like this. However, it seems much more likely that Varlamov sticks around for the remainder of the season, especially if the Islanders are in a playoff position at the trade deadline, and potentially re-sign Varlamov short-term at a lower dollar amount in the summer.