The crease for the NY Islanders is set for at least the next four years. With Ilya Sorokin signing an 8-year extension and Semyon Varlamov inking a 4-year deal, the starter's role and the backup position are in good hands.
As we know, things don't always go to plan, and injuries occur. Both Sorokin and Varlamov have been relatively healthy the past three seasons as Cory Schneider has been the only other goaltender to see action between the pipes, starting once against his former team, the New Jersey Devils, during the 2021-22 season. Other than that, the show's been stolen by Sorokin and Varlamov.
Last year's starter with the Bridgeport Islanders, Schneider has given up on his hope of returning to the NHL and will likely look to continue his career playing in Europe. Next in line is Schneider's former partner, Jakub Skarek, who remains an RFA, yet to sign a new contract. Drafted in the third round in 2018, Skarek transitioned to North America in 2019, serving primarily as a backup. Now 23 years old and without a path to the NHL until 27, when Varlamov's contract expires, Skarek could return to Europe, leaving Bridgeport without a goaltender.
After signing his ELC on March 1, the Islanders' top goaltenIslanders'ding prospect Tristan Lennox is expected to be part of the team in Bridgeport. Though he was one of the top netminders in the OHL last season, his high-point being a 59-save shutout, he's inexperienced and has yet to play a single professional hockey game.
Another option is the mammoth Henrik Tikkanen, who spent last season with the Islanders' ECHL affiliate, the Worcester Railers. Tikkanen, who stands 6'8", was drafted by the Isles in the seventh round in 2020. The Islanders opted to give up Tikkanen's rights in June of 2022 - but just two months later, both sides came to an agreement, getting the Finnish netminder under contract.
Tikkanen has professional experience in Europe, but his highest level in North America has been the ECHL posting a .914 SV% and 3.02 GAA.
The free-agent market has dwindled, but there are a few experienced goaltenders still without a job, including Jonathan Bernier (34), Martin Jones (33), and Aaron Dell (34). Depending on Skarek's situtation, Lou Lamoriello and his son Chris may seek veteran help before the season begins.
If the injury bug hits the Islanders and the team is without Sorokin or Varlamov for an extended period, it could lead to issues as the other will likely be leaned on far too much.