One of the agenda items for the New York Islanders this summer is who will be addressing their backup goalie situation. Plan A would be to sign Semyon Varlamov. However, the 35-year-old netminder will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1st. Given the Islanders' salary cap space and how much Ilya Sorokin now plays, Varly could be elsewhere next season.
If Varlamov departs the blue and orange what are the Islanders' options?
The Islanders currently do not have an internal option to become the team's backup goalie come the start of next season. Jakub Skarek the co-number one goalie in Bridgeport last season (23-year-old, 2018 - 3rd Round pick) is not ready to take that role. Cory Schneider who was the other goalie in Bridgeport is no longer a regular NHL goalie.
The Isles do have a talented young goalie in the pipeline in Tristan Lennox (20-year-old, 3rd pick in 2021) who signed his entry-level contract with the Islanders back in March. However, he still needs seasoning and is not NHL-ready.
That means that if Varly leaves the Isles will need to look at the unrestricted free-agent market. Given Sorokin played 62 games this past season and will be the guy between the pipes come playoff time, the Isles just need a veteran who can give them a solid outing for 20 -25 games. Also, Lou Lamoriello will want one that will not cost that much against the salary cap.
The best unrestricted free agent options that fall in this category are Cam Talbot, James Reimer, and former Islanders Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss.
Having played several seasons with the Islanders, Griess knows the players, the coaching staff, as well as Lamoriello, and his best performances have been in an Islander uniform. Greiss won a lot of big games for the Isles in prior seasons, including two playoff-clinching wins versus the Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Greiss would fit like a glove if he returned to the Islanders. Reimer would be a solid option as well if the cap hit were right.
Neither had numbers that come close to what Varlamov provided the Isles last season, but team defense and style of play played a role. Greiss had a 3.64 goals-against-average and .895 save percentage with a .500 St.Louis Blues squad. Reimer had a 3.48 goals-against-average with a .890 save percentage with the rebuilding San Jose Sharks.
Time will tell who is the Isles' backup goalie next season but if it winds up being Varlamov he will probably take less to stay with the Islanders.