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New York Islanders Five Most Important Players for 2019-20

Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 23: Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders tends net against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on September 23, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 23: Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders tends net against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on September 23, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Semyon Varlamov

The New York Islanders success last season was built on goaltending and defense. The 2018-19 Islanders allowed the fewest number of goals against in the entire NHL because of that approach. By defending as a unit and getting top-notch goalkeeping, the Islanders were able to power themselves to 103 points.

While the Isles still have the same defense as they had last season, goaltender Robin Lehner is gone.

The Vezina finalist in 2018-19 averaged a 0.930SV% (ranked second in the NHL) and 2.13GAA (ranked third in the NHL). His replacement, Semyon Varlamov averaged a 0.909SV% and 2.68GAA with the Colorado Avalanche last season.

Can Semyon Varlamov give the Islanders Robin Lehner levels of goaltending? Probably not. Heck, Robin Lehner probably wouldn’t return Robin Lehner levels of goaltending in 2019-20.

But the Islanders are going to need Varlamov to put up average to slightly above average numbers in the crease.

We know that the Islanders are going to split starts between Varlamov and Greiss this season. We’re assuming that Greiss can give us that NHL average to slightly above average goalkeeping in 2019-20.

If Varlamov can’t give the Islanders at least average number in the crease the Isles will struggle this season. And those predictions that look so wild, the ones that have the Isles dropping 22 points (looking at you USA Today) might not look so crazy.

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