Even before the injury news about Mathew Barzal being out with injury indefinitely, the NY Islanders were teetering on the line between being a buyer and a seller at the trade deadline. Although their acquisition of Bo Horvat made it feel like Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello would be a buyer, the Islanders have been a pretty unconvincing team in terms of their ability to win big games and with the clock ticking on the season, the math for them to make the playoffs doesn't look very good despite the fact that they're currently in the second Wild Card spot. Now that the Islanders are going to be without their franchise forward and have injuries piling up with J.G. Pageau and Josh Bailey also sidelined, their playoff odds have become even thinner. According to Frank Seravalli of the DFO Rundown, he believes the Islanders should be getting something in return for pending free agent, Semyon Varlamov.
"If they’re gonna miss, they should get something back for (Varlamov) if they can," Seravalli claims when asked about what the Islanders should do at the upcoming NHL Trade deadline. The problem might be that Lamoriello doesn't typically have a history of selling at the deadline as he always believes there a chance that his team can make the playoffs. In fact, last trade deadline, Lamoriello doubled down on his own extending Zach Parise and Cal Clutterbuck to their respective contracts.
"They think they’re in it, we know they think they’re in it," Seravalli explains. "These are the pitfalls of making a massive move like they did (acquiring Horvat)."
Looking ahead to March 3rd, the Islanders have likely spent whatever value they have when they acquired Horvat. Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty, and a top-12 protected first-round pick are now in the possession of the Vancouver Canucks. If the Islanders finish in the bottom 12, they get their pick back and it gets pushed to the 2024 draft, so maybe in the summer they'll have an asset to work with, but that doesn't help before the 3rd.
As stated earlier, the math for the Islanders doesn't look very good. Yes, they currently hold the second wild card spot, however, if the postseason was measured by points percentage, the Islanders wouldn't be in playoff position at all. The Islanders and Florida Panthers are tied for having played the most games in the NHL with 59 while teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings have five and four games in hand respectively, while only trailing the Isles in the standings by three points each.
"Points percentage-wise, they’re already not in the final wild-card spot," Seravalli says. "We’re waiting for them to take off and they’re just not doing it."
So it almost looks as though the Islanders' best bet is to recoup some assets by trading away whatever might be expiring in order to either strengthen the prospect pool or flip the value they receive over the summer to continue to retool their roster. Some teams in playoff position (or close to it) that could be interested in Varlamov's services are the Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Sabres who Seravalli also mentions could end up buyers.