New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov posted his second shutout of the season on Sunday in Winnipeg, making 23 saves in a 4-0 win over the Jets. With the trade deadline coming up on March 3, Varly hopes it wasn't his last with the Islanders.
After the game when asked about his future, Varlamov reiterated his desire to stay on Long Island. "Do I want to be traded? Absolutely not, said the 34-year-old. " I want to stay with this team. I love this team. I want to stay here and re-sign. But it's out of my control."
It's been a different type of year for Varlamov, who entered this season as the clear backup to Ilya Sorokin, but has acclimated himself well to his new role. "Sometimes it's easy sometimes it's very hard, it depends on how you mentally prepare for the game," Varlamov said after the game. "I was very hungry to play today. So it was easy for me it was very hard to stay sharp."
In 20 games this season, Varlamov is 11-7-2 with a 2.68 GAA and .914 SV %, strong numbers for a backup and further evidence that he could play a No. 1 goaltender role for a number of teams across the NHL next season or during a playoff push if GM Lou Lamoriello elected to trade him this week.
Varlamov is in the final year of his 4-year/$20M contract he signed ahead of the 2019-20 season. If he would return next season, it would need to be at a pay cut. That's something the veteran is undoubtedly aware of, but he values continuity at this stage of his career and the relationship he has with Sorokin that has made them one of the best goalie tandems in the league.
Sorokin has been a workhorse, and given the Islanders' schedule, he could potentially start nearly every game the rest of the way. Varlamov has a modified no-trade list of 16 teams, so does maintain some say over a potential trade destination. Still, given the Islanders' current playoff position, it now seems unlikely that Lamoriello would disrupt one of the team's strengths.
However, if the right team comes calling with a high enough draft pick as compensation, you'd think that could change, given the state of the Islanders' prospect pool and having already moved a Top-12 protected pick to Vancouver in the Bo Horvat trade.