Islanders Prospects News

Ilya Sorokin is Coming to Long Island

It is time. Reports out of Russia say that the Islanders’ White Whale, the best goaltender outside of the NHL, is coming to the states.

Back in 2014, the New York Islanders drafted two goaltenders. In the fourth round, 95th overall, the Islanders drafted Linus Soderstrom, who obviously has had a tough first two years playing North American hockey due to his injuries. The other of the two was drafted a round earlier, in the third round, 78th overall. His name is Ilya Sorokin.

Sorokin has been deemed the “best goaltender outside of the National Hockey League”, and it has been a few years since the Islanders fanbase started to petition to get him over to North America. Then, back in 2017, he signed an extension to stay under contract with CSKA Moskow in the Kontinental Hockey League. Well, now is the time.

This past Sunday, KHL insider Igor Eronko from Sport-Express, someone who has broken many KHL-related stories that include players leaving for the NHL in the past, tweeted something out that made many Islanders fans’ Easter Sunday much more exciting.

Now, we may say that Sorokin is the best goalie outside of the NHL, but how good has he actually been with CSKA Moscow? Well, in Sorokin’s six seasons with CSKA, he is a seven-time Goaltender of the Month, a five-time KHL All-Star, one-time KHL Best Goaltender, a Gagarin Cup Champion, while winning the Gagarin Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player, and, most importantly, a Gold Medalist during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

With regards to his statistical numbers, they are much higher than any other goaltender in the KHL, and they are also higher than NHL goalie stats. In 40 games this past season, he went 26-10-3 with a 1.50 Goals Against Average and a .935% Save Percentage.

To compare that to NHL goaltender’s stats, the lowest Goals Against Average in the NHL this season is by Tukka Rask, who has a 2.12 Goals Against this season, and his .935% Save Percentage would also be atop the NHL leaderboards, ahead of Anton Khudobin, who has a .930%.

There are also many reasons that now is the right time for Sorokin to come over. The first of which is the team that he would be playing behind. Having the opportunity to play for Barry Trotz is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the staff he has only makes it easier for someone like Sorokin to make the NHL transition.

The main members of Trotz’s staff that are going to be vital in Sorokin’s success are Goaltending Coach Piero Greco and Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn. Greco helped lead the Toronto Marlies goaltending tandem of Calvin Pickard and Garrett Sparks to a Calder Cup Championship, and Korn is basically a goalie magician, working with some of the best goalies of this century in Braden Holtby, Pekka Rinne, and Dominik Hasek.

Semyon Varlamov has given high praise of Sorokin and his work ethic, and Varlamov and Sorokin have worked out together and have spoken to each other plenty of times. The likely goaltending tandem of the near future will have a pre-existing relationship, so that is a major victory for the Islanders.

The final reason that now is the right time is that he has amazing competition in the Metropolitan Divison. The impact of those future elite goaltenders has started in the past year, with Carter Hart, Elvis Merzlikins, Ilya Samsonov, MacKenzie Blackwood, Tristan Jarry, and a close friend of Sorokin’s in Igor Shestyorkin.

The future is looking bright for the Islanders. A legendary General Manager, a Hall-of-Fame coach, a new arena to look forward to, and a plethora of young talent.

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