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New York Islanders

What is Varlamov Worth on Trade Block? Maple Leafs Interested



New York Islanders

Desperate times call for desperate measures with the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching. Playoff hopefuls are scrambling to bolster their club, while non-playoff teams try to swindle more for their players on the market.

There is a team that desperately needs to improve their goaltending situation and that’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. A league source has told NYI Hockey Now that New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov is on their shortlist.

The 33-year old goaltender has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5 million and has a modified no-trade clause (16 teams).

The Toronto Maple Leafs are without their starting netminder Jack Campbell, who will miss a minimum of two weeks with a rib injury the team announced this past Thursday. Campbell has hit the skids in the second half. He has an .841 SV% over his last five starts with a 4.92 GAA.

Backup Petr Mrazek has struggled just as much. Over his last five starts, the 30-year old owns an .839 SV% with a 4.45 GAA.

When two goaltenders struggle like this, the defense has to be part of the problem, right?

For a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has been an offense-first, defense second organization, they have allowed the 10th fewest scoring chances against this season (5 on 5) but have allowed the eighth-most goals per Natural Stat Trick. The Maple Leafs just are not getting saves, and their goaltenders’ performances have been unacceptable.

Scouts from both the Maple Leafs and the Islanders have been on hand for each other’s games this past week, with the ball in the court of New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello given his team’s position in the standings and the desperation level of Toronto.

In a sit down with The Athletics’ Kevin Kurz and Newsday’s Andrew Gross a few weeks ago, Lou Lamoriello said that he believes in the core of his team, as it seems that the Islanders may have a quieter trade deadline than people had initially thought.

In this league, you need two netminders to compete, and if the Islanders can play better in front of both netminders next season, this tandem, regardless of who gets more games (Sorokin), could be a top one in the NHL like we saw in 2019-20.

Taking the human side of the sport into the equation, Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin are best friends and it may make sense for Sorokin’s development to keep Varlamov around until his contract expires after the 2022-23 season.

But Toronto is desperate for goaltending right now. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas more than likely will not survive a first-round exit again, and there are not many goaltenders on the market.

A first-round pick could get the job done for Semyon Varlamov, and Lamoriello should not accept anything less.

Varlamov has only appeared in 19 games this season, with a 4-12-1 record, a .912 SV% with a 2.85 GAA. The Islanders have not provided Varlamov with what Islanders head coach Barry Trotz likes to call “run support” but has been solid this season despite the statistical results.

There is another goaltender Toronto has shown interest in, and that’s 37-year old Marc-Andre Fleury, who is on an expiring contract and has a modified no-trade clause (10 teams). Because of his $7 million cap hit, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to retain some salary, which means that Dubas will need to sweeten the deal with another asset involved.

Marc-Andre Fleury is 19-20-4 with a .908 SV% and a 2.92 GAA.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a tough spot because even though they are in third place in the Atlantic Division with 79 points, they only hold a slim two-point lead over the Boston Bruins, who hold the first wild-card spot with 77 points.

The Washington Capitals are in the second wild-card spot with 74 points.

Mrazek has shown to be unreliable, and by the time Campbell returns, the Maple Leafs could take a dip in the standings.

Although there is a significant disparity in points between the second-wild card Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets (63 points), the last thing Toronto wants is to be the eighth seed entering the postseason, with the amount of talent in the East.

So as one could expect, Toronto wants to make a deal fast. But for the New York Islanders, especially the New York Islanders, there’s no rush, and to get the most for Semyon Varlamov, waiting until March 21, when teams are most desperate, makes more sense for them.

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