Matt Martin and Semyon Varlamov will make the trip to North Carolina for Thursday’s season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes, but neither will be suiting up.
Any last-ditch hope that either would be able to play appeared to be dashed by New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. The Islanders are carrying 25 players on their roster, but Varlamov and Martin both are starting the year on the IR.
“Varlamov is not ready at this point and nor is Matt Martin,” Lamoriello said during a Zoom call.
It seemed all but a forgone conclusion that neither player was going to be ready for the first game of the season. Martin did skate with the team on a few occasions, but Varlamov has not. The veteran goaltender had been skating on his own as he recovered from “soreness.”
Varlamov’s absence has drawn a bit more attention considering its secretiveness. Martin had undergone surgery to repair a chip in his ankle.
The two had been expected to be ready for the start of the season, but as their presence away from the ice lingered it became less of a certainty. Still, the Islanders are confident that when Semyon Varlamov returns whatever is ailing him won’t be a long-term issue.
“I don’t think it lingered any longer. We knew that we were going to give it as much possible time as necessary to be 100 percent,” Lamoriello said. “That’s what we’re doing, but we’re extremely comfortable that it won’t be long.”
Part of the Islanders’ comfortability being without Semyon Varlamov to start the year has been the confidence in Ilya Sorokin. The young netminder had a strong rookie showing, which included helping the Islanders defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs last season.
Now the 26-year-old will get the role of starter until Varlamov returns. Cory Schneider will serve as the Islanders’ backup until then as well and then be sent down to AHL Bridgeport.
“I just think (Sorokin is) comfortable with his teammates, he’s comfortable with a lot of different aspects (of the NHL),” head coach Barry Trotz said. “The overall experience of being here in North America, he’s just more comfortable. And with his talent base, those two things should give him a real good opportunity to show what he can really do. In a short period of time last year he has done really well. You saw it in the playoffs and you saw it in the regular season.
“I don’t expect that to change any.”
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