New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz believes that veteran goaltender Semyon Varlamov will return to the team’s fold sooner rather than later.
“Just resting. He’s doing fine,” Trotz said. “He’s been skating for a little bit here, but he’ll be joining our group fairly soon I would think.”
Varlamov did not participate in training camp or preseason play due to a nagging, undisclosed injury that put the start to his season in doubt. The Islanders begin the 2021-22 campaign on Thursday night in Carolina against the Hurricanes.
Trotz admitted last week that he and the organization were practicing extreme caution to ensure that the 33-year-old will only be back at full strength — nothing else.
“I’m just concerned that he gets to 100% so we’re not dealing with any nagging stuff,” Trotz said then. “If I’m overly cautious or we are to get him 100%, I’d rather go that route at the start of the season… I’ve been through this before where nagging things keep nagging…
“If he needs two weeks now, give him two weeks now instead of a schedule in the middle of a schedule where we’re playing four, five games a week. That’s really the only thing. Do I have any concerns about him long-term? Not at all. This is getting him 100% for the long haul.”
Varlamov has been the stalwart of the Islanders for the last two years, going 38-25-10 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.36 goals-against average while serving as the team’s No. 1 goalie during their two consecutive runs to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
In the meantime, second-year netminder Ilya Sorokin will be the main man in goal for the Islanders after an impressive debut showing last year.
“He’s a very professional player. He works at his craft,” Trotz said of Sorokin on Monday. “I just think that he’s comfortable with the size of the rinks, he’s comfortable with his teammates, he’s comfortable with a lot of different aspects — the traffic you see in the NHL…. just the overall experience of being here in North America, he’s more comfortable.
“With his talent base, those two things should give him a good opportunity to show what he can do. He’s done really well… I don’t expect that to change.”