Late on Tuesday night, we saw the first goaltender move this trade deadline season. How does that shocking trade impact the market for New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov?
The Los Angeles Kings stunned the hockey world as they traded franchise netminder Jonathan Quick, a 2023 first and third-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Viktor Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
With how much talk there was about the asking price for Gavrikov and how much the Kings needed to improve their goaltending, this was a strong move for them–despite Korpisalo’s struggles–as Quick has been a mess.
Per TSN’s Chris Johnston, just a week ago, the asking price for Gavrikov was a first, a third, and a fourth-round pick–an astronomical ask for a pending unrestricted free agent. Looking at this deal, it’s possible that the Kings only had to give up a first for Gavrikov and that Korpisalo cost a third, with Quick coming back for “free.”
Given that the New York Islanders are in a playoff spot, despite his playing time, Semyon Varlamov likely stays put, but it’s up for debate if that would be the right move if the Islanders don’t re-sign him to a team-friendly extension in the offseason.
For starters, the Kings were a fit for Varlamov, who is having a strong bounce-back season with a .912 SV% and a 2.68 GAA.
His last game, he shut out the Winnipeg Jets, stopping all 23 shots that came his way in a 4-0 win.
The asking price last season was a first, given Varlamov’s extra year of control, and that asking price could still be there.
Looking at the deal above, Korpisalo (.911 SV%, 3.17 GAA) for a third means, at the very least, a second-round pick would need to be part of a deal for the 34-year-old Varlamov.
The Kings went the cheaper route.
So that takes the Kings out of the running.
What now becomes interesting is where the Blue Jackets send Quick.
The Vegas Golden Knights, who has interest in Varlamov last trade deadline, have a goaltending problem with two goaltenders out injured. But given how many NHL-caliber goaltenders they have on the roster, with positive news that All-Star Logan Thompson will return at some point, they likely go a much cheaper route if they can.
Quick is that cheaper route.
Yes, he’s on the tail end of his career, but have you seen him in the postseason? Did you see what he did a season ago, posting a .910 SV% and a 2.59 GAA? He was the prime reason they made the postseason a year ago.
He would be a much cheaper option than a Varlamov for teams looking to bring in a veteran backup for a playoff run.
There are still a few teams that could use goaltenders.
Remember that Varlamov has a modified no-trade clause of 16 teams with the belief that all of Canada is on it. However, unlike last season, Varlamov can test free agency wherever he goes, even if he stays, so a few months somewhere else might lead him to waive his clause to join a contender.
The Seattle Kraken find themselves holding down the third see in the Pacific Divisions, but right now, they are pretenders until they acquire a legitimate number one goaltender. Martin Jones owns a .890 SV% with a 2.93 GAA. Philipp Grubauer has been even worse, posting an .893 SV% with a 3.10 SV%.
The Kraken have a first-round pick in the upcoming draft while holding on to three second-round picks. Back the other way, if they wanted Varlamov, would likely be Jones, who is a pending unrestricted free agent.
A few other teams need goaltenders, like the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.
Despite being 41 years old, Craig Anderson has been strong (.918 SV%, 2.77 GAA), but youngster Ukko-Pekka Luukkonnen has struggled (.892 SV%, 3.57 GAA). Varlamov could provide that veteran experience and be the starter, allowing Luukkonnen more time to develop in the AHL.
The Sabres have a route they want to take, and it’s been working out since trading Jacke Eichel. Although they have three picks in the second round, it would be hard to imagine Lamoreillo trading Varlamov to not only a team on the outside looking in but a team trying to catch the Islanders in the wild-card race.
The same goes for the Ottawa Senators, who quietly have put themselves back in the wild-card conversation. Cam Talbot (.905 SV%, 2.87 GAA), who signed with the Senators this summer, is on the block. Anton Forsberg has been worse (.902 SV%, 3.26 GAA) and is on Injured Reserve.
The Senators will need strong netminding to do the unthinkable with 22 games remaining on their schedule. They don’t have a second and aren’t trading a first, with their playoff chances rather slim.
Another team that doesn’t need Semyon Varlamov but could certainly try to upgrade in between the pipes is the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This summer, general manager Kyle Dubas brought in Ilya Samsonov (.917 SV%, 2.30 GAA) and Matt Murray (.911 SV%, 2.73 GAA). As much as the two have them have been good, Murray is on Long-Term Injury Reserve, and the Leafs, especially Dubas, are desperate to get past the first round–with jobs depending on it.
Joseph Woll, a 24-year-old third-round selection back in 2016, has played just two games this season, posting a .929 SV% with a 2.57 GAA. If things go wrong with Samsonov, are they satisfied with Woll leading them in the playoffs?
Varlamov would not likely waive to go to a team where he wouldn’t start as he would rather finish out the season with the Islanders–if Toronto is a team on his no-trade list (we have reason to think it is).
Could the Islanders throw in a pick and get Woll back in return to backstop Ilya Sorokin for the foreseeable future? Islanders would have to retain some salary but not much.
It’s a thought–not likely–but a thought nevertheless.
There’s options out there for Semyon Varlamov, as we are less than 48 hours away from the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.