Should the NY Islanders extend goaltender Semyon Varlamov?
Last night, NY Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov secured his first win since he was injured on Dec. 17 in Vegas, stopping 44 shots, including a penalty shot in OT and making a save-of-the-year candidate. With the victory, he improved his record to 9-6-1 on the season with a 2.67 GAA and .917 Save %, numbers good enough to start on some NHL teams, but the 15-year veteran appears content in his role and willing to come back and do it again for the Islanders next season and beyond.
“I would love to stay here and then extend the contract,” Varlamov told the New York Post ahead of Saturday's 2-1 IOT win over the Golden Knights at UBS Arena.
Varlamov is in the final year of his 4-year/$20M contract he signed ahead of the 2019-20 season. Missing some with injuries, the 34-year-old has started 16 games to Ilya Sorokin's 36. If he would return, Varlamov knows it would be with a pay cut and as a backup - a role that he's adjusted to over the last two seasons, modifying his approach to stay sharp during long stretches without games.
"This year, it’s been different for me. It is what it is. I spend more time practicing on the ice with the goalie coach. You have to when you don’t play every game or every other game, you have to make sure you stay in good shape. And then that’s all you can do, you know what I mean? And then Ilya’s been playing very good for us this year. My job is to support him and try to stay positive about everything."- Semyon Varlamov
Among the considerations for the Islanders should be what Varlamov's value is at the trade deadline, provided GM Lou Lamoriello and ownership have decided that selling assets is what's in the best long-term interests of the franchise. The first week of games following this extended break could add clarity to their position.
Varlamov has a modified no-trade list of 16 teams, so it's possible that he will have a say as to whether or not he wants to be moved in March. His lengthy playoff experience and success could return a first-round pick in the right situation for a team looking to upgrade in net or have suffered an injury at the position.
Currently, the goalie tandem of Sorokin and Varlamov has a cap hit of $9M. If Varlamov would return on a discount that number would go down - at least for a season - until Sorokin himself becomes a UFA ahead of the 2024-25 season.