Fantasy Take: Varlamov tending twine for the Islanders

by Michael Clifford on July 1, 2019

 

Robin Lehner found a new home in Chicago and with Sergei Bobrovsky off to Florida, the goalie market didn’t take long to thin out. The Islanders relied on their goaltending last year and until the kids they’ve drafted the last couple years are ready, they’ll need to do so again.

The help this season, and in the three seasons beyond, will come in the form of Semyon Varlamov, who signed a four-year deal with the Islanders with an average annual value of $5M.

 

What the Islanders get

Like almost every goalie to set foot on NHL ice, Varlamov has been inconsistent over his career. If you look at just his last six years by Goals Saved Above Average, he’s had two seasons where he’s been really good, two seasons where he’s been really bad, and two seasons where he’s been about average. In totality, over those six years, he’s been about an average NHL starter.

That isn’t to denigrate him, either. Being an average NHL starter means you’re a top-20 goaltender on the planet. Varlamov is fine.

The question is what the Islanders decide to do with the goaltending situation. They went with a 1A/1B approach last year and Thomas Greiss is still around. Do we see Varlamov around 45-50 starts, or pushing 60? I lean towards the latter but we just don’t know right now.

Also, I think there’s a bit more uncertainty to the Islanders and their structure than people will admit. The team did a good job of limiting shots from the outside last year but they gave up a lot from the middle of the ice. Limiting perimeter shots only to have them funneled into the slot seems like a ticking time bomb. They need to tighten up.   

This strikes me as a signing that some fans might be deriding in six months. Hope I’m wrong.

Not for nothing, but this makes Thomas Greiss an intriguing fantasy option this year. There will be people chasing Varlamov in hopes that he repeats the performance of Lehner last year, meanwhile people will forget that Greiss started 39 games. If Varlamov doesn’t perform well out of the gate, Barry Trotz probably won’t hesitate to go to Greiss. I’ll be drafting him a lot as my third or (hopefully) fourth goalie.

If Varlamov performs well, however, we could see Greiss drop under 30 starts, at which case he's most likely just a streaming option. 

 

Who this helps

Philipp Grubauer

 

Who this hurts

Thomas Greiss (pending)