Sea-ice concentrations in the Laptev Sea simulated by the coupled North Atlantic—Arctic Ocean—Sea-Ice Model and Finite Element Sea-Ice Ocean Model are evaluated using sea-ice concentrations from Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer—Earth Observing System satellite data and a polynya classification method for winter 2007/08. While developed to simulate largescale sea-ice conditions, both models are analysed here in terms of polynya simulation. The main modification of both models in this study is the implementation of a landfast-ice mask. Simulated sea-ice fields from different model runs are compared with emphasis placed on the impact of this prescribed landfast-ice mask. We demonstrate that sea-ice models are not able to simulate flaw polynyas realistically when used without fast-ice description. Our investigations indicate that without landfast ice and with coarse horizontal resolution the models overestimate the fraction of open water in the polynya. This is not because a realistic polynya appears but due to a larger-scale reduction of ice concentrations and smoothed ice-concentration fields. After implementation of a landfast-ice mask, the polynya location is realistically simulated but the total open-water area is still overestimated in most cases. The study shows that the fast-ice parameterization is essential for model improvements. However, further improvements are necessary in order to progress from the simulation of large-scale features in the Arctic towards a more detailed simulation of smaller-scaled features (here polynyas) in an Arctic shelf sea.