The New York Islanders once again have their Russian tandem back in place, activating Semyon Varlamov off injured reserve today. Cory Schneider, who had been up for the last few weeks, was returned to the minor leagues.
Varlamov, 34, hasn’t played since December 17, but holds a .919 save percentage on the season in 12 appearances. While he is now the clear backup to Ilya Sorokin, the veteran netminder gives the team an outstanding second option to rotate in when needed. His $5MM contract (which expires at the end of this season) is a tough one to carry on injured reserve, especially for a club so close to the cap ceiling thanks to several other injuries.
There are few tandems in the league as successful as Sorokin and Varlamov. The Islanders team save percentage of .915 is third in the NHL, only trailing the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets, who, while having outstanding starters, have each had less reliable backups this year with Jeremy Swayman and David Rittich. Having Varlamov back is an advantage for New York, who can now afford to give Sorokin a bit of rest after he carried the entire load recently. Schneider has not appeared in an NHL game this season.
It’s just in time, given the back-to-back coming up at the end of the week when the Islanders travel through Edmonton and Calgary. They have two other back-to-back situations before the month is out, meaning New York will need to have two healthy goaltenders in place over the next few weeks.