The NY Islanders playoff hopes aren't dead (yet)! In fact, despite losing Mathew Barzal last Saturday against the Boston Bruins after a hit by Craig Smith has the Islanders franchise forward sidlined for what's been labeled "week-to-week," the Isles actually moved up a spot in the Wild Card race. In terms of points percentage, the math doesn't look good as teams behind the Islanders in the standings have games in hand, however, as it stands, the Islanders are in playoff position and that just might be enough to convince general manager Lou Lamoriello not to sell his pending unrestriced free agents at the upcoming 2023 NHL Trade Deadline and according to DailyFacoff insider, Frank Seravalli, there's no evidence that suggests they will, either.
“I would be surprised because there has been such a big emphasis put on this year and getting into the playoffs," Seravalli explains. "I think the one that would have the most interest when you look at some other teams (with struggling goaltenders) would be Semyon Varlamov. The path forward for him to play games is pretty minimal given the run Ilya Sorokin has been on.”
Varlamov nearing the end of his fouur-year, $20 million contract and is headed towards becoming a free agent this summer, that is if Lamoriello doesn't convince him to stay with his buddy as they've been considered the best goaltending tandem in the NHL despite a lack of team success. Varlamov has put together a strong rebound season after a down 2021-22 season, totaling a 10-7-2 record, 2.82 GAA and a .911 SV%. According to Seravalli, if the Islanders were to sell on Varlamov, the market indicates he'd retrieve a third round pick at most.
Again, the Islanders are still in the race. History tells us that Lamoriello builds his teams from the net out and it feels unrealistic for him to change his philosiphies at 80 years old.
“The problem is Lou Lamoriello, their general manager, is a big believer in having a two goalie system," Seravalli continued. "How many times have we seen a team get into the playoffs… look at the (Pittsburgh) Penguins last year. They go without their top two (goaltenders) in the first-round series against the NY Rangers and end up blowing a 3-1 series lead in part because of their lack of goaltending. If the Islanders get in, which is a big if at this point, I think they should be considering selling and moving a couple of those pieces, the problem is I don’t have any evidence yet that they’d be willing to do so.”
Seravalli is right. As much as it would make sense to get something back for Varlamov, the Islanders still have a slight chance at making the playoffs, and if they're there, we've seen what they can do once they get in and they don't want to be underequipped.
Varlamov isn't the only pending UFA either. Both Scott Mayfield and Zach Parise will need contracts this summer. Theirs likely a market for a large, right-shot defenseman so if the Islanders made him available, it shouldnt surpise anyone if suitors line up. Parise on the other hand, we've seen what Lamoriello does with his 35+ aged players. Last year, Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene were approached by Lamoriello as they drew interest at the trade deadline. They requested not to be traded and Lamoriello honored that request. Parise could probably net the Islanders something decent as well as he's totaled 15 goals in 60 games on a league minumum contract.