Since the arrival of Barry Trotz and his staff, the New York Islanders have had some of the best goalie tandems in the league. Ironically, over those three years, each tandem has been different.
At first, you had the Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss duo who won the Jennings Trophy. Once Lehner left, Semyon Varlamov stepped in and the duo of Varlamov and Greiss was more than formidable. Finally, you had the Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin tandem, possibly the best of the bunch.
Last year, the two combined for a .925 save percentage and a 2.09 goals against average. The Islanders were first in the league for team save percentage on the season. For reference, Hockey Reference had league average at .903 last season.
Well, Pete Jensen of NHL.com wrote up the fantasy hockey goalie tandem rankings and the Islanders duo came in at the top. He didn’t go into specifics of why a team ranked where they did but these were the notes he left before the article:
"NOTES: Factors taken into account in these rankings include past performance (especially save percentage) in regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs, team goalie situations and penalty kill, anticipated start volume, coach and system, quality of defense, reliability of secondary goalie(s), projected goal support (or lack thereof), injury concern (INJ.), sleeper, bounce-back or breakout potential, anticipated regression, age, contract status, strength of division and overall upside for this season. These rankings are also applicable to any fantasy leagues that have team goalies (similar to team defenses in fantasy football)."
When looking at what the tandem did last year, it’s easy to have them towards the top of any ranking. Plus, when you add in playoff performance (they had a .922 save percentage in the playoffs) and future it seems like an obvious choice.
Ilya Sorokin is only going to continue to get better, and with the 1a and 1b format, both should see a ton of reps. Last season, Varly started 35 games to Sorokin’s 21. Varlamov took the net for 63% of Islanders games last season, there’s a chance that number trends closer to the 50’s this year with how strong Sorokin came on last season, especially in the playoffs.
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If either guy is available for the taking in your fantasy draft, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. It’s worked well in the past for this team.