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Is Varlamov Validating Lamoriello’s Deadline Decision?



New York Islanders, Semyon Varlamov, Ilya Sorokin

On Tuesday night, New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov notched his first shutout of the season in the 3-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. He turned aside all 24 shots that came his way and his teammates could not be happier for him.

“It’s huge,” Casey Cizikas said. “You know, he’s played some really good hockey as of late. For him to get a shutout tonight, it just speaks volumes of his preparation, his mentality, and the way he comes to the rink every single day so we’re excited for him

This season has been one of disaster for all Islanders, especially Semyon Varlamov. And as we approached the trade deadline, there was interest in Varlamov, and the Islanders could have made some cap room by clearing his $5 million off the books.

But Islanders general manager did not get an offer that he believed was worth it for the 33-year old netminder and shared the importance of keeping Varlamov around.

“Varly certainly got a lot of attention, but he’s very important to our team. He’s very important to our goaltending,” Lamoriello said. “In my opinion, he is very important to the growth and maturity of Ilya Sorokin.”

There’s no question that Varlamov’s relationship with Sorokin played a significant role in keeping Varlamov for at least the remainder of the season. Could the Islanders move him in the offseason? Lamoriello very much could, but it seems that breaking up this tandem is not something high up on Lamoriello’s to-do list.

“You see them go for walks…they truly are friends,” Trotz said a few weeks ago. “When they are in the net, they cheer for each other, which is a great attribute to have.”

Now fans only get to see interactions on the ice, and the media is not allowed locker room access just yet.

But after the 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers this past Sunday, we could see players walking back and forth as we got ready for the postgame press conference.

Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin seemed like pool buddies at summer camp, both walking with one another to get postgame food and whatever else was on tap for after the game.

It showed a glimpse into Trotz’s description of his two netminder’s connection.

Despite the New York Islanders record this season (27-25-6) and the likelihood of missing the playoffs for the first time in four years (17 points out, 4 games in hand), Islanders head coach Barry Trotz’s top priority is winning and finishing this season strong.

“Let’s not start next year,” Trotz said. “Let’s continue where we are, and build from here and say, you know, listen, let’s finish strong, let’s finished the way we need to play.”

And right now, both of his netminders are playing at the top of their game, and it’s paying dividends for the team in front of them.

Over the last eight games, the New York Islanders are 6-1-1. Semyon Varlamov is 3-0-1 over his previous four starts with a 1.72 GAA and a .947 SV%. Ilya Sorokin is 3-1-0 over his last four starts with a 1.52 GAA and a .961 SV%.

“I can’t make a bad choice,” Trotz said regarding who to. start in goal. “Every game he’s (Varlamov) just given us a chance to win every night just like Sorokin does. So you know, I just feel like he looks comfortable. He’s moving well, and I’m glad for him because he’s such a, if you know anything about Varly, he’s one of the favorites in the room because he’s low maintenance, always has a smile.”

“And you know, obviously, he’s a veteran goaltender whose influence on the group and on Ilya, I think everybody recognizes what a good teammate he is and what a good pro he is.”

The Islanders play their remaining 21 games in 37 days, and as much as people want to see Sorokin play every night, it’s not a realistic plan.

And with the way Varlamov has played as of late, that will only benefit Sorokin. Although Sorokin may watch from the bench every other game or a couple of times a week, there’s always a chance to learn something.

This entire season for Varlamov has showcased determination. A 33-year old working his way back from injury in a hellish season, putting in the work to get back to the game we saw a year ago while staying positive despite a lack of support in front of him on the ice.

To us watching, that may not seem like much. But to a young netminder looking to take his game to the next level and learn what it takes to be a pro, it has to mean a whole lot.


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