Much like Barry Trotz, new head coach Lane Lambert is keeping his cards close to his chest. Lambert met with media personnel on Tuesday to discuss some of what to expect with the NY Islanders moving forward. Part of that discussion was based around training camp, and what the expectations are from the mostly unchanged roster that's returning after a disappointing 84-point season that saw the Islanders miss the playoffs for the first time in three seasons by 16 points. One of the topics at hand was about goaltenders Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov:
"Those two guys [Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov] are gonna push each other. And they cheer for each other, they’re gonna push each other, that healthy competition’s gonna be great. Again, I think that’ll play itself out through training camp in terms of who gets the majority or plays a little bit more."- Lane Lambert told the NY Post
Heading into training camp, it appears Lambert is putting everyone on notice in order to make sure his players earn their spot on the roster and in the lineup. That includes Sorokin, despite starting 52 games last season and posting a 26-18-8 record with a 2.40 GAA and .925 SV% on a meek Islanders team. It'll just be Sorokin's third professional season in North America, however, he's already a favorite to compete for the Vezina Trophy at season's end.
Serving as a backbone for the Islanders for the majority of his tenure on Long Island, Varlamov struggled for the first time in an Islander uniform last season. An injury sidelined him to begin the year and when he returned, he wasn't quite himself. The 14-year veteran goaltender lost his first seven starts and after finally recording his first few wins, he lost another six straight. Varlamov ended the season with a 10-17-2 record, a 2.91 GAA, and .911 SV%. Those numbers aren't going to cut it with the aspirations the Islanders have to return to the postseason, but there were moments where he showed flashes of his former self and it's not out of the question he still has that in him.
Now heading into 2022-23, Lambert is making it clear there won't be any handouts. Despite Sorokin seemingly having the upper hand, Varlamov has been plenty successful at the NHL level and it shouldn't surprise anyone to see him raise his game and earn some extra starts. Regardless, the healthy competition in net will only strengthen what is believed to be the best goaltending tandem in the NHL. The opportunity is there for one or the other to take ownership of the majority of starts and it's never out of the question those two can split time in the crease