New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert spoke to a few of us on Tuesday afternoon, our first real chance to talk with him since he was named head coach back in May following the Barry Trotz firing.
Here are the key takeaways from Tuesday’s chat.
New York Islanders Are Healthy
The health of the New York Islanders was a major issue heading into training camp in 2021-22, as well as throughout the season, whether players missed time due to COVID-19 or legitimate physical injuries.
If you remember, Matt Martin and Semyon Varlamov were not available last training camp, and a few players entered camp coming off injuries and off-season surgeries.
Lane Lambert shared that the team is healthy entering camp, including forward Cal Clutterbuck and defenseman Scott Mayfield, who saw injuries end their 2021-22 campaigns.
After blocking an Erik Brannstrom shot against the Ottawa Senators on Mar. 22, Scott Mayfield suffered a lower-body injury that held him out for the remainder of the season. There was a chance that he could return before season’s end, but that did not happen.
Entering the final season of his contract, Mayfield will have a new defensive partner, likely one of Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho, or Dennis Cholowski.
A few days after Cal Clutterbuck inked a two-year extension with the New York Islanders on trade deadline day, his season came to a close as he opted for shoulder surgery. He shared with us following the season that it had been something lingering for quite some time, and it was time to get his shoulders surgically repaired.
It’s important to point out that Semyon Varlamov, who was not ready when the 2021-22 season began, is healthy entering camp this year. Although his role is likely to change a bit given the emergence and domination of Ilya Sorokin, it’s integral to have two strong goaltenders in today’s NHL.
READ MORE at NYIHN: Clean Slate For Everyone Entering Camp, ‘It’s About Looking Forward’
No PTOs Expected
While teams have been handing out professional tryouts (PTO) over the last few weeks, do not expect the New York Islanders to do so. When we spoke to him in late August, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello shared how much he believes in his group, and the lack of moves backed up his claim.
Lambert does not expect their to be any PTOs at training camp, but as he said as of now, there is no plan for the club to go that route.
Long Island native, forward Sonny Milano, would be a player that makes sense for the New York Islanders to offer a PTO, but not because there is a fit positionally. It’s because his work ethic and competitiveness would bring out the best in others–push others like Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows–two players vying for starting jobs.
New York Islanders Goaltending Situation
With Ilya Sorokin playing the majority of games due to Semyon Varlamov’s health in 2021-22, he proved that he could handle the workload that comes with being a number one netminder. We assume that Sorokin enters the 2022-23 campaign as the sure starter, but Lane Lambert was not willing to make that decision yet.
“Well, first of all, we’re very fortunate in having two great goalies,” Lambert said. “That’s the key, and certainly, as you’ve seen in the playoffs, you need two good ones.”
“Those two guys are gonna push each other. They cheer for each other. That healthy competition is going to be great.”
We know the importance of the Semyon Varlamov-Ilya Sorokin relationship. The Jedi Master to the Padawam, if you will.
But Varlamov told us in his final media availability of last season that Sorokin does not need a mentor anymore.
“I think we’re past this stage. I don’t think he needs the mentor. I think he’s ready to go.”
As for who will play more in 2022-23, Lambert had this to say.
“So, again, I think that’ll play itself out through training camp, in terms of, you know, who gets the majority or who plays a little bit more,” Lambert said.
“But we’ll see how that goes along throughout the year. But they’re both very, very capable, and we’re very lucky.”
Looking Forwards, Not Backwards
In our afternoon piece from Tuesday, we dove into Lane Lambert’s thoughts on last season and how it’s about looking forward.
You can read that piece below: