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Where is Semyon Varlamov? Islanders Could be Forced to Call on Ilya Sorokin

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New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin

It’s been nearly a week since the New York Islanders training camp opened on Long Island and no one has seen Semyon Varlamov. We know the veteran netminder is banged up and that head coach Barry Trotz wasn’t too worried, but as the days pass by the more likely it seems that Ilya Sorokin may be the starter on opening night.

The expectation was that Sorokin would see more action this season. Now he might have to by default.

On Sunday night, Sorokin was in net for the Islanders’ first preseason game against the New York Rangers. The good sign is that right off the bat, Sorokin seemed locked in. 

The second-year netminder seemed to be in mid-season form. He stopped 13 of 13 while manning the crease, including a strong save on Rangers’ forward Chris Kreider. While that may be the “highlight-reel” goal of the night, he made difficult saves look relatively easy. Ilya Sorokin was aggressive, tracking pucks through bodies while still finding a way to control his rebound. The ability to control rebounds is a tell-tale sign that a goalie is on his game. 

One game is not an indication of how a season will go, but it certainly wasn’t a bad sign. And considering the alternative options the Islanders have, it’s all the more reason Sorokin needs to play well in preseason. 

The Islanders start the season on a historically long road trip, 13 games, where two goalies will be needed. In Sorokin’s rookie campaign, the most consecutive games he played were two. With the lack of depth at the goaltender position, the Islanders have limited, trustworthy options. 

Cory Schneider, who agreed to a one-year, two-way deal after a season on the Taxi Squad, has not played in an NHL game since March 6, 2020. He did play in part of Tuesday’s preseason contest in Philadelphia. 

Skarek, who shut the door Sunday night after relieving Sorokin, has not played in an NHL game yet. He has not fared too well in the AHL either, as he owns a 3.39 GAA, with a and .888 SV% in 28 games. 

That means that If need be, the expectation is that Schneider would serve as the backup, with Sorokin being relied upon heavily to start the year.

If Varlamov is unable to go, it is the Ilya Sorokin show. How long that would be is unclear. 

The Islanders say they’re just being cautious with the veteran goalie. “Obviously, he is such a big part of it (the team), and it’s right at the start of training camp, so we are just going to let things settle down for him,” Barry Trotz said at the beginning of camp. 

For the time being there doesn’t seem to be much to really be worried about when it comes to Varlamov’s long-term health. It may just be Sorokin’s crease to start.

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