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Team Reset

Islanders add Varlamov aiming to build on surprising season

Hope goalie, emerging defensemen lead to better results after reaching second round in 2018-19

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the New York Islanders:

The New York Islanders haven't made many changes to their roster this offseason, but they have made a significant one. 

The Islanders and goalie Semyon Varlamov agreed to terms on four-year contract July 1, the same day Robin Lehner signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Lehner was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the goalie voted best in the NHL, last season with New York.

Varlamov, who has won at least 20 games in six of the past eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, will split time with Thomas Greiss, who combined with Lehner last season to win the Williams M. Jennings Trophy, which is awarded to the goalies having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it during the regular season.


[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]


But Varlamov, who went 20-19-9 last season and backed up Philipp Grubauer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Avalanche, has another goal in mind for the Islanders, who reached the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the second time since 1993.  

"Our goal is to help this team win the Stanley Cup one day," Varlamov said. "I'm sure me and Greiss are going to have a great time working together."

Lou Lamoriello said he tried to trade for Varlamov when he became Islanders GM before last season and expects big things from the 31-year-old. 

"In my opinion, our goaltending staff here (director Mitch Korn and coach Piero Greco) is second to none," Lamoriello said. "I rely on their expertise more than my own, and they are extremely high on [Varlamov] and have been high on him and certainly endorsed the direction we took."

The Islanders, who were reportedly in the running to land unrestricted free agent forward Artemi Panarin before he signed with the New York Rangers on July 1, were able to re-sign forward Anders Lee to a seven-year contract after he became an unrestricted free agent the same day. 

Video: What Islanders still need as offseason moves along

Here is what the Islanders look like today:


Key arrival

Semyon Varlamov, G: Went 183-156-38 the past eight seasons with Colorado, including an NHL-leading 41 wins in 2013-14. A first-round pick (No. 23) by the Washington Capitals in the 2006 NHL Draft, Varlamov is 213-169-50 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 448 games with the Avalanche and Capitals.

Video: COL@SJS: Varlamov denies Kane's breakaway bid


Key departures

Robin Lehner, G: Set an Islanders record with a .930 save percentage. Lehner, who turns 28 on July 24, won an NHL career-high 25 games last season. … Valtteri Filppula, F: The 35-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1 after he had 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) and a plus-19 rating in 72 games.


On the cusp

Noah Dobson, D: A first-round pick (No. 12) in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old won the Memorial Cup for the second straight season, this time with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Dobson had 52 points (15 goals, 37 assists) in 56 games for Rouyn-Noranda and Acadie-Bathurst and was named most valuable player of the 2019 QMJHL playoffs (29 points in 20 games). … Otto Koivula, F: The 20-year-old had 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists) and a plus-14 rating in 69 games for Bridgeport of the American Hockey League in his first professional season. Koivula will get an extended look in training camp if the Islanders don't acquire another center. … Sebastian Aho, D: New York has a logjam at defenseman, but Aho should be ready if called upon after the he tied Koivula for second in scoring for Bridgeport last season with 46 points (nine goals, 37 assists) in 67 games. The 23-year-old had four points (one goal, three assists) in 22 games for New York in 2017-18.


What they still need

A goal-scorer. The Islanders were 13th in the Eastern Conference with 223 goals, and their power play ranked 29th in the NHL at 14.5 percent last season. They also must find an adequate replacement for Filppula, who played in all situations and was a veteran presence in the locker room.


Fantasy focus

Varlamov could return similar value to Lehner, who finished among the top 10 at the position last season. Varlamov had a down season for the Avalanche (.909 save percentage) and lost the starting job to Grubauer but should bounce back in a timeshare with Greiss. Unlike last season, when the Islanders' tandem went undrafted in most leagues, Varlamov and Greiss each is worth targeting anytime outside the top 100 overall. -- Rob Reese


Projected lineup

Anders Lee -- Mathew Barzal -- Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier -- Brock Nelson -- Josh Bailey

Matt Martin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Tanner Fritz -- Leo Komarov

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech -- Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews -- Scott Mayfield

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss


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