Four Big Questions for the New York Islanders in 2020-21

Mathew Barzal #13 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Mathew Barzal #13 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

1. What will Ilya Sorokin’s role be for the Isles in 2020-21?

It does not matter how good of a netminder Ilya Sorokin is. Coming over from the KHL means that a learning curve will be eminent. While he will not have to start in the AHL like his cross-town rival Igor Sheserkin did, it will take some time for the 25-year old Russian to solidify himself as the true number one goaltender for the New York Islanders.

Head Coach Barry Trotz announced yesterday that Semyon Varlamov will be the starter, as he has deserved it. Both netminders had good camps, but given what Varly did last year and in the postseason, this is the right decision.

From what we have seen, Sorokin seems to be the real deal in net. He’s quick to his posts, aggressive, and athletic. With the the team carrying three goalies this season, he will be most likely be sandwiched between Varlamov and Cory Schneider, two veterans who know what it takes to win in this league.

Now, this is how I look at it. At some point during this season, we expect to see Sorokin get comfortable and start to play to the level we saw in his KHL days. But Varlamov will play, as I expect him to get at least 30 starts this season.

Cory Schneider (35)
Cory Schneider #35 (R) greets Ilya Sorokin #30 of the New York Islanders (L). (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

That leaves Sorokin with about 26 starts. With the schedule being what it is, with the Islanders in the toughest division in a stacked East, having two netminders ready to go each night will be essential for this team to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Personally, I am not worried if Sorokin is not named the starter halfway through the season. All that matters is that he gets the job done when his name is called upon.

Each game this season is more important than ever before. So if Varlamov struggles or puts together a couple of bad starts, Ilya Sorokin will see an increase in playing time. On the flip side, the same thing is true. But I would think Sorokin has more leeway if he struggles because it is expected that he will at points during this season.

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It is not the “Sorokin Show” just yet on the Island, and it should not be. The team wants to see consistency from him and improvement as the season progresses. It will be exciting to see just how good this netminder really is for the New York Islanders in 2020-21.