Islanders: Semyon Varlamov will likely be playoff starter

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

For the 2019-20 playoffs, the New York Islanders should turn to Semyon Varlamov to be the starter in nets.

The New York Islanders spent a good portion of the 2019-20 season flipping between Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss in the crease. Barry Trotz clearly wanted to continue the goalie rotation that the Isles had with Robin Lehner and Greiss in 2018-19.

Last season, Lehner and Greiss split the starts with 43 and 39, respectively. This season the starts between Varlamov and Greiss were split a little less evenly. Varlamov had a majority of the start with 39 to Greiss’s 29.

That split wasn’t due to injury. Greiss was healthy the entire season, except for that dizziness spell in November where Greiss pulled himself from the game. Varlamov got the majority of the starts due to performance.

Varlamov’s to Lose

In his 39 starts this season, Varlamov posted a 19-14-6 record with an average 2.62GAA and 0.914SV%. Those numbers are close to what he’s done throughout his career with an average 2.67GAA and 0.915SV%. He hasn’t been outstanding but he’s been as advertised.

Before the season ended, Semyon Varlamov was already the de facto starter for the Isles. Varlamov started seven games of the Isles final ten games before the regular season was suspended and then eventually canceled.

While Greiss has been a great goalie for the majority of his Islanders tenure, this season just wasn’t his year. After winning a Jennings Trophy with Lehner in 2018-19 on the back of a 2.28GAA and 0.927SV%, Greiss averaged a 2.74GAA and 0.913SV% in 2019-20.

We know there will be three or four weeks of training camp and two exhibition games before the playoffs begin. So it’s entirely possible that Thomas Greiss has an incredible training camp and plays well in an exhibition game before the 2019-20 playoffs start and changes Barry Trotz’s mind.

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Varlamov has been the better of the two this season and is already the starter in Trotz’s eyes. I’m sure Greiss will get a fair chance to get the crease but it’s going to take something special to pull Trotz from Varlamov as the starter.