2. Semyon and Sorokin
Lou Lamoriello gave a few bits of information during his brief New Year’s Eve media availability. One of those bits was making us all privy to the four-man goalie group the Islanders will take to training camp with them: Semyon Varlamov, Ilya Sorokin, Cory Schneider, and Jakub Skarek.
It seems safe to assume the Islanders will start the regular season on January 14 with Varlamov and Sorokin as a 1A, 1B tandem, and Schneider taking a taxi squad role to be used as needed.
But, we saw a season ago that Barry Trotz wasn’t afraid to run with the hot hand when needed. The Islanders didn’t start either of their netminders in back-to-back games until nearly Christmas. When Thomas Greiss‘s performances continued to slide, Varly took on five consecutive starts between December 29 and January 6.
That’s not to say that Varlamov was without flaw in 19-20, because he had some rough patches too. But it seems crucial to the Islanders’ success that their goalies take turns in a steady rotation. When one needs a rest, or needs to regroup like Greiss did around the 2020 New Year, the other can be relied upon to get the nod and maintain a certain degree of consistency.
The question here is: can the overaged rookie Ilya Sorokin be relied upon in a situation where Barry Trotz feels the need to start him in three, four, or five games consecutively? His KHL numbers tell us he’s as good a candidate as any first-year NHL goalie to take on that challenge.
But, with no preseason games to exhibit how well the 25-year-old Russian’s skills immediately translate to the NHL’s smaller ice and quicker pace, this training camp will be crucial in giving us some of those answers.