Once Ilya Sorokin signed that four-year $20 million deal in the offseason for the New York Islanders, the goal was always to transition the crease to the younger Russian netminder from Semyon Varlamov. But it wasn't part of the plan to make that transition this year.
Going into 2021-22, the goal in the crease was to split the crease 50/50 between Sorokin and Varlamov. And with the way 2020-21 went, there's no reason to think the plan would have been any different. The two goalies were excellent during the regular season. It was likely to stay for 2021-22.
But through the start of the year, Sorokin has been the much better goalie between the two, and Barry Trotz is going to reward him for it.
New York Islanders crease shifting to Ilya Sorokin now
In 17 games played this season, Sorokin has a 7-6-4 record with a 0.925SV% and 2.49GAA he's also stopped 4.5 goals above expected in all situations for the Isles. Meanwhile, Varlamov is averaging a 0.884SV% and 3.29GAA and has allowed 4.2 goals above expected in seven games played mind you.
So far this year, the Isles have a better shot winning with Sorokin between the pipes than they do with Semyon Varlamov. So the younger Russian netminder is going to get the lion's share of the starts.
Barry Trotz indicated that instead of giving his goalies 2-2 split over a four-game sample, that he'd go 3-1 for Sorokin.
Again, this wasn't supposed to happen this early. It's not ideal per se. Having these two guys push each other and basically playing like a true number one would have been ideal. But, if Sorokin can keep up these performances (and there's no reason to suggest he won't be able to) then the crease effectively becomes his.
Varlamov trade bait in summer
Which then forces the Islanders to place Varlamov on the trade block this summer. With a year left on his deal that carries a $5 million cap hit (but actually only pays him $5 million) and some of the numbers he's been able to put up for the Isles. There could be a destination for him.
His 16 team no trade list (that kicked in this year) makes that trade a little bit harder to pull off.