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New York Islanders Soderstrom Path to NHL Is Clear

Mar 11, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) defends the net against St. Louis Blues left wing Magnus Paajarvi (56) during the first period at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) defends the net against St. Louis Blues left wing Magnus Paajarvi (56) during the first period at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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New York Islanders have two promising goalie prospects in the system. Both are setting records back at home. But Linus Soderstrom is probably the first to join the Islanders organization.

To start the 2016-17 season the New York Islanders had three goalies on the active roster, one more than they needed. But by the start of the 2017-18 season, the Isles are likely going to be down two and looking for a good backup.

Thomas Greiss signed a three-year extension midway through the season and has looked perfectly comfortable as the Isles number one. He isn’t going anywhere.

Jean-Francois Berube needed to play at least 30 minutes in 28 games to avoid being a “Group 6” UFA under the CBA. Berube won’t meet that mark.

Jaroslav Halak and his agent have seemingly burned every bridge possible back to the Islanders. So unless something terrible happens, or Halak goes groveling at Snow’s feet, he ain’t going to be back in an Islanders uniform.

New York Islanders

The Two From 2014

In the 2014 NHL draft, the New York Islanders selected Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom with the 78th and 95th pick respectively.

Both were highly touted prospects with Soderstrom ranking 3rd and Sorokin 5th on the NHL’s Central Scouting final report for European goaltenders. Since being drafted both have been turning heads in their home leagues.

Last season, Sorokin won the KHL’s goalie of the year award after posting a superhuman 1.06 GAA and 0.953 SV% in 28 games with CSKA Moscow. This season, Sorokin has more human numbers with a 1.61 GAA and 0.929 SV% in 38 games.

Not to be outdone, Soderstrom broke a record (the link is in Swedish) held by fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist by posting the lowest goals against average in the SHL with a 1.34 GAA. Lundqvist’s record was 1.45 GAA.

How amazing is that? Having two fantastic goaltending prospects in the Islanders system. The only issue is will they come to North America? And if so, when?

Must Read: Islanders Top 5 Prospects Today

Contractual Obligations

For Sorokin, the earliest he can be here is the 2018-19 season because of a contract he currently has with CSKA Moscow. Maybe the Isles just buy-out the remainder of his deal? Hold that thought.

This summer talk around Vadim Shipachyov was heating up NHL wide. Shipachyov is a 30-year-old KHL veteran who put up 60 points last season and 76 this year. But the Russian forward had a year left on his KHL contract with SKA St. Petersburg.

In a chat with Sportsnet counterparts, Elliotte Friedmann stated that teams looking to buy out his contract might meet resistance from the NHL. I don’t think the Isles will rush to challenge the NHL on this issue. Mainly because they have another option currently available.

While Sorokin is contract tied to the KHL, Soderstrom’s deal with his club HV71 has expired. Making him eligible to sign an entry-level NHL contract.

More from Eyes on Isles: Josh Bailey Isn’t Elite. Not Yet

When Will He Make The Jump?

Even if he signs a contract with the Islanders it doesn’t mean he immediately jumps into the backup position. He’ll go through training camp like the rest of the Isles goaltending prospects.

Last year the Islanders had six goaltenders make training camp. Two won’t be there, opening a few spots on the camps roster. And that’s assuming the Isles keep both Christopher Gibson and Stephon Williams who are RFA’s at the end of the season.

Next: Lower Good Shot Opportunities Against = Winning

Stacked up against that opposition and the odds are pretty good that Soderstrom has a shot at being Greiss’ backup. It’s likely that even if he performs well that Garth sends Soderstrom to Bridgeport just to get some game time and see exactly what he’s got in the young Swede.

But of the two, Soderstrom and Sorokin, Soderstrom’s path to the NHL seems like the most direct right now.

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