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Islanders Could Split Goalie Duties Again This Season

Trotz: "We'll let it play out. The same premise as last year"

by Cory Wright WrightsWay /

Barry Trotz is a little ways from picking an opening night starter, but if last season is any indication, both Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov can expect to get lots of work this season. 

"We'll let it play out. The same premise as last year," Trotz said on Saturday. "It's becoming more common in the NHL and obviously we had a split down the middle, so we were leaders last year. But I think it's harder and harder for a true number one to play 70 games a year. We'll let it play out. We're going to play the guys that give us a chance to win every night. That's not a big concern for me right now. We'll let it play out a bit."

Last season the Islanders split time evenly between Greiss and Robin Lehner, with the duo combining to win the William Jennings Trophy. Greiss made 43 appearances, going 23-13-2, while Lehner appeared in 46 games. Varlamov appeared in 49 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season. 

Video: 2019 Training Camp: Greiss & Varlamov

(Get an in-depth look at Varlamov's new Islanders mask at the 1:20 mark of the video above)

Greiss, the easiest-going goalie in the league, has no problem being in a partnership and is ready to work with Varlamov. 

"We've been getting along so far and he seems like a great guy," Greiss said. "I'm looking forward to playing with him. He's a very accomplished goalie and has had a great career in the NHL. I think he'll be a great help to our team this year."

Varlamov said he's excited to work with Greiss and leaves things like playing time up to the coaching staff. 

Both goalies arrived on Long Island about two weeks before camp for informal skates, so they've had some time to get to know one another. Friday marked the first day of on-ice work with Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn and Goaltending Coach Piero Greco. Varlamov, who spent the past eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, is embracing the new approach taught by the Isles goalie gurus. 

"I have to make a couple of adjustments to my game, but it's been good so far," Varlamov said. "It's a lot of movement on your feet. They try to teach you how to move on your feet and stuff… There's a lot of new things I have to learn in a short amount of time, but it's definitely fun to learn some new things from those two guys."

If anyone can attest to their work, it's Greiss, who recorded a career-year last season and now has his name on some NHL hardware. Trotz is also confident that Varlamov's game can go up another level after working with Korn for two decades and with Greco last season.  

"Between Mitch and Piero, there's so much knowledge there, that they are able to find that next little tweak here and there, things they identify goalies do better once they have them," Trotz said. "I saw a couple things they did today with the habits of Varly - obviously Greisser has been with those two guys - but the things they are already looking to tweak with Varly to get him to that level. But I've been around Mitch and Piero's first year with me, I'm just impressed with the way they handle our goaltending department." 

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