NY Islanders News

How rare is it for an Islanders goalie to play 60 games?

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Florida Panthers v New York Islanders / Al Bello/GettyImages
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If you hold the belief that Semyon Varlamov should be traded this season, it has very little to do with Varlamov and everything to do with Ilya Sorokin (and cap space, of course).

Trading Varlamov, who played in 32 games last season and will cost $5M AAV next season, continues to be one of the more straightforward moves to shed salary to upgrade the offense. But at the draft, GM Lou Lamoriello reiterated that keeping the Russian pair together is best for the organization for next season.

If that ends up being more posturing than the team’s position, then more will be asked of Sorokin in his third NHL season.  The 52 games played by the soon-to-be 27-year-old Sorokin in 2021-22 was the 12th most by an Islanders goaltender in team history, showing that he can handle the workload of a No.1 goaltender at this level. If Lamoriello changes course and decides trading Varlamov is a necessity to improve the offense, that total could grow to more than 60 games next season depending on the goalie brought in to serve as back-up.

A year ago, only five goalies reached the mark across the NHL: Jusse Saros (67), Connor Hellebuyck (66), Thatcher Demko (64), Andrei Vasilevsky (63), and Jacob Markstrom (63). In the previous 82-game season in 2018-19, eight goalies reached 60 games, with Devan Dubnyk playing in 67. That season, the Islanders won the Jennings Trophy, awarded to the team that allowed the fewest goals in the league. Robin Lehner (46) and Thomas Greiss (43) had a near-even split in Barry Trotz’s first year. Varlamov played a career-high 63 games for the Colorado Avalanche in 2013-14, finishing second in Vezina Trophy voting that season.

There have only been four Islanders goalies to amass 60+ games in the regular season and the milestone has only been reached six times in franchise history.

On that list, you won't find Billy Smith, the most decorated goaltender in franchise history. "Smitty" played a career-high 56 games in 1974-75, but never topped 46 during the Islanders' five consecutive trips to the NHL Finals, splitting time with first Chico Resch and then Roland Melanson.

However, you will find a list of goalies that had their best years before and after they left Long Island and another whose career trajectory was derailed by health after handling an unprecedented workload for the Isles in net.

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