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Semyon Varlamov’s Outstanding Performance, NHL Trade Deadline Looms



New York Islanders, Semyon Varlamov

As soon as the puck dropped on Monday night, the Colorado Avalanche got chance after chance against the New York Islanders. But through two periods, the game was, somehow, was still knotted at one apiece.

That somehow was someone, and that someone was New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov who did all he could despite the onslaught in the third period.

“He gave us an absolute chance,” New York Islanders captain Anders Lee said following the 5-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. “I think the message halfway through the third before they put on the onslaught there…was let’s go get him one, let’s get him one. He deserved that, and he deserved it earlier than he got it.”

Semyon Varlamov turned aside 44 of the 49 shots he faced, including 19 of 20 in the first period alone. The Colorado Avalanche exposed the Islanders often, with prime scoring chances left and right. Still, Varlamov answered the call and did all he could, even when the Avalanche goal total rose to five.

His best save of the contest came in the second period as he robbed Colorado’s Cale Makar with the paddle to deny the go-ahead goal at 5:11 of the second period.

“He was outstanding. I mean…he was outstanding. He was the best player,” New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “If you can give a player a one to five, you can give him a 4.5 or five. He was by far the best player on the ice.”

In the first 10 seconds of the game, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan Mackinnon snuck behind the Islanders defense and got on a semi-breakaway. His shot went wide, but Varlamov was aggressive and gave the elite scorer essentially no angle.

From there on out, countless odd-man rushes came Varlamov’s way, but his positioning allowed him success. He squared himself up to most of the shots that came his way and did a tremendous job at controlling his rebounds. The importance of that against a juggernaut offense is immeasurable.

Varlamov also showed off an anticipation level that we had not yet seen this season from him, even in his better performances. And his ability to slide over and make a handful of athletic saves also showed that maybe, just maybe, he is as close to 100-percent healthy as we have seen this season.

At the end of the night, Varlamov did allow five goals to beat him, but none were due to his wrongdoings. It was Varlamov’s best showing of the season, and he had nothing to show for it besides his 12th regulation loss in 16 starts in 2021-22 and his sixth consecutive loss.

But this was by far the most crucial performance of the season for Semyon Varlamov.

The 33-year old netminder entered Monday’s contest with a 2.76 GAA with a .912 SV% and a record of 3-11-1. After the level Varlamov played to in 2020-21 (.929 SV%, 2.04 GAA, 7 shutouts), this season’s performance has not come remotely close.

There have been extenuating circumstances, as his health impacted his ability to prepare for the season the way he wanted to. It took him a while to get back and get comfortable, and then COVID-19 forced him to remain in Canada.

Varlamov’s name has come up in trade rumors throughout the season. If his jaw-dropping performance against Colorado did not open up the eyes of potential trade suitors, nothing will. Varlamov has a modified no-trade clause which means he can create a list, in his case a list of 16 teams he does not want to play for, and the New York Islanders must comply.

The 14-year veteran has one more year remaining on his contract, worth $5 million.

A handful of playoff-hopeful teams could use Semyon Varlamov and his skillset.

Varlamov’s lack of success this season has not been on him alone, as the defense in front of him has been lackluster along with the offensive support, or lack thereof.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had reported previously that the Edmonton Oilers were interested in Varlamov, a team in dire need of solid goaltending. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period had mentioned that the Vegas Golden Knights were interested in Varlamov while Robin Lehner was battling an injury, but Lehner has since returned.

With the goaltending struggles in Toronto, Varlamov could be a helpful addition to at least get them out of the first round.

Although his value has not been as high as the Islanders would have liked, it’s performances like what we saw on Monday night that could be enough to elevate his value.

The March 21st trade deadline is only a few weeks away, and it will be interesting to see how many starts Trotz gives Varlamov from now until then.

Following morning skate on Monday morning, Trotz said that the schedule wouldn’t allow him to ride one netminder. “I think we got like nine games from here until the following weekend, so they’re both going to be playing.”

So now the question becomes, how much higher can Varlamov raise his value from now until the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline?

Varlamov’s next contest will more than likely be the second of the back-to-back on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets, a team that is currently eight points out of a playoff spot.

It’s not realistic that Varlamov will put forth the same performance that was on display Monday in his upcoming starts. Still, it is about building on that performance and playing to the highest level he can, which will give potential suitors even more of a reason to give up an asset to bring Varlamov to their organization.


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