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Islanders: Dissecting why Jakub Skarek was called up to taxi squad

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Jakub Skarek talks with the media after being selected 72nd overall by the New York Islanders during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Jakub Skarek talks with the media after being selected 72nd overall by the New York Islanders during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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Late on Thursday, as the New York Islanders dispatched the Boston Bruins by a score of 7-2, we found out that the Isles had brought up Jakub Skarek from the minors to the taxi squad. Which lead to a lot of (valid) questions. Like why?

(Thanks to CapFriendly’s Transactions Twitter feed for the info.)

For those keeping track at home, that means the New York Islanders now have four goalies on the roster. Semyon Varlamov, Ilya Sorokin, and Cory Schneider are all on the regular squad, and now Skarek on the taxi squad. Somewhere in Nassau County, Garth Snow is smiling.

So what does the move mean?

What do the New York Islanders do with four goalies?

According to CapFriendly, the only roster moves the Isles made on February 25 was Skarek up from the minors and both Oliver Walstrom and Leo Komarov up from the taxi squad to the regular roster. Why bring up Skarek and not send another goalie down?

(Note that Bridgeport also has four goalies: Skarek, C.J. Motte, Francis Marotte, and Ken Appleby.)

There are three possible scenarios that I can think of:

1. Getting practice time with NHL squad

It could have to do with the upcoming break for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After their 3-2 win over Providence on Thursday, the Sound Tigers don’t play until March 5. That’s a full week between games. And while Bridgeport will certainly have practice, this could be about getting a goalie they like to get some reps with the NHL squad.

His AHL stats this year aren’t anything to marvel at. In five games played he holds a 1-4-0-0 record while averaging a 3.25GAA and 0.895SV%. But the Islanders like his play and from the Sound Tigers games I’ve seen, Skarek isn’t the problem.

2. Sending Cory Schneider down

I have my doubts that this is the answer to the question. If so why not send Schneider down while bringing Skarek up? Maybe players have a greater chance to pass through waivers on Fridays?

Jokes aside, it’s clear that Schneider isn’t going to factor for the Isles at the NHL level. Barry could have used him by now, even in relief, and didn’t. So moving Schneider to the AHL isn’t a bad idea in order for him to “get his game back on track”.

I doubt another team will claim him through the waiver wire. So he should have safe passage to the ‘A’ to get some game time.  Assuming that’s what’s going on here.

3. Getting Sorokin some playing time

I also doubt this is the case. With a back-to-back against Pittsburgh over the weekend Sorokin is going to get playing time. Just over a week ago, Lou indicated that Sorokin “is capable of being here”.

Maybe if Sorokin plays poorly in that back-to-back, Lou might consider sending him down to get more playing time and build that confidence up. But until that happens he’s here to stay.

We also have to consider that if Schneider – a career NHL starter – can’t get NHL time, then there’s no way that 2018 third-round pick and no-NHL-games-to-his-name Jakub Skarek is going to get a start either. Which would mean the only capable backup is Sorokin. So why send him down?

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It’s certainly possible that they send Sorokin down, but looking at where the Isles are, who they have to play backup, and the timing of the call-up, I believe this is just about getting Skarek some NHL experience by practicing and traveling with the team.

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