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Lamoriello Speaks on Russian Situation, Paliafito Hiring Advantageous?

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MONTREAL, QB– On Wednesday, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello spoke following his general manager meeting, as he answered a handful of questions about the state of the team, the latest managerial hires, and more. With what is transpiring in Russia, Lamoriello was asked about the status of Ilya Sorokin and how it impacts the trade market regarding fellow Russian Semyon Varlamov.

As one can expect, Lamoriello kept it short and sweet.

“I’m not going to talk about anything that has to do with transactions of the players. It has no bearing. There’s no circumstances that have any bearings on any decision,” Lamoriello said.  “I think you know, there’s a lot of rhetoric. It’s just talk.”

There are reports that the Islanders other Russian netminder Semyon Varlamov is still on the market, but given the “questions” now surrounding Ilya Sorokin, Varlamov and the word ‘trade’ should not be seen near each other unless Lamoriello knows for sure that Sorokin will be on American soil come the start of the 2022-23 season.

And even then, the likelihood that Varlamov will be moved is slim.

When Lamoriello was asked if he had conversations about his Russian players heading back to Russia, the veteran general manager was honest about it.

“Whatever conversations we’ve had with them is just simply that they have to make decisions that is in their best interest.”

Then Lamoriello was asked about Ivan Fedotov, the Philadelphia Flyers goaltending prospect that has been accused of evading the Russian military draft and is now on a naval base in the Arctic Circle.

“I only can worry about our players and I’m very comfortable with the situation of our players. And I think that’s the best way I can answer that. Because I don’t know all the circumstances involved in other situations and you know, everything sometimes gets blown out of proportion.”

As for drafting Russian players and the concern with getting them out of Russia, Lamoriello had no comment other than “We’ll have to see at the draft.”

Earlier this week Lou Lamoriello hired a former colleague of his in Jim Paliafito, a pro scout whose focus is on European free agents. Was this more than just a scout hiring?

While the hiring was out of necessity, given the New York Islanders prospect pool and their scouting presence in Europe, it may be a move that works to the Islanders advantage given the situation in Russia, especially if some Russian draft prospects don’t hear their name called.

Now, a talented player is a talented player and NHL general managers are more privy to the situation and status of those Russian players, one would imagine.

Paliafito’s last stop was with the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing enormous roles in the scouting and signing of Nikita Zaitsev, Ilya Mikheyev, and other Russians. He was fired come season’s end.

Lamoriello spoke about the hiring and what Jim Paliafito’s role will be with the organization.

“Yes, I worked with him in Toronto…And then you know, he was not going back,” Lamoriello said. “And we haven’t had a real strong presence in the European free-agent market. And he’s done a great job in my opinion.”

Lamoriello said that Paliafito’s role will be focused simply on the European free-agent market.

As for why Lamoriello wants to branch out into Europe, it’s about finding the best guys available.

“If you can get better, if they’re better than your player in Bridgeport, no matter how your talent pool is, you know you want to do that,” Lamoriello said. “So what we’re doing now is just kind of focus in an area. And that’s the reason we’ve extended that staff and Jimmy was available and he wanted to come.”

The Islanders prospect pool is not particularly strong, ranked 31st out of 32nd per The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler.

If Aatu Räty and William Dufour are the first two to come to mind, be cautiously optimistic given the fact that they have a lot to learn and still a lot to prove with the Bridgeport Islanders this season.

Now, Paliafito is not just focusing on Russia, and all things considered, that’s probably the last place to be at the moment. Whether it is a Russian free agent or European free agent, do the New York Islanders now have a leg up on that side of the pond?