New York Islanders prospect, goalie Ilya Sorokin, was named to the Olympic Men’s Hockey Team from Russia. Russia has been suspended from participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the team will still compete under the Olympic flag.
Although Russia will not be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, their national teams will still participate as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”, or OAR, the name that will adorn their jerseys and uniforms. New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin was named to the men’s hockey squad today as one of the three goaltenders on the roster.
Sorokin was selected by the New York Islanders in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. After being named the KHL goaltender of the year in 2015-16 in Russia, Sorokin showed some goodwill towards the franchise and attended Isles prospect camp. He then proceeded to put up video game numbers in Russia for two more seasons and signed an extension to remain with CSKA Moscow until 2020, much to the chagrin of Islanders fans.
Will we ever see Ilya Sorokin in a New York Islanders uniform?
There are usually opt-out clauses in KHL contracts, especially in cases where the player has been drafted by an NHL team. When the New York Islanders drafted Sorokin, they knew he would be spending his remaining formative years in the KHL, and they were OK with that. Letting Sorokin hone his craft while playing in an extremely talented league couldn’t hurt (unless he got hurt, of course).
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Luckily for everyone involved Ilya Sorokin hasn’t just stayed healthy, he’s played beautifully. He’s been with CSKA Moscow since 2014, and since Sorokin has a 1.39 GAA and .937 SV%.
No, it’s not the NHL. But the level of talent in the Russian professional league is the next best in the world in league-wide talent.
The New York Islanders never had any illusions of Sorokin coming over this season, but they would like to see him in the Blue & Orange eventually. Whether the Isles buy out Sorokin’s contract in an act of necessity (not likely, but possible) or Sorokin buys out his own contract (not unheard of in the KHL), he will surely play in the NHL one day.
In the meantime for the New York Islanders
The New York Islanders will continue the trot out Jaroslav Halak and occasionally Thomas Greiss for the remainder of this season. Next year, we could see a combination of Greiss, Christopher Gibson, and even possibly Linus Soderstrom. Soderstrom is expected back with his Swedish club this season after undergoing surgery earlier this month.
This offseason the Isles may have enough money left in the coffers after re-signing unrestricted free agents John Tavares and Josh Bailey, as well as making any other necessary upgrades, to sign a goaltender. If they were to sign a mid-to-top tier netminder in free agency it would sufficiently bridge any gap between the current Islanders goalie situation and whenever Ilya Sorokin arrives.
Ilya Sorokin will be just twenty-five when his current contract with CSKA Moscow expires. He could conceivably step right into the New York Islanders starting netminders role once he comes over. Let’s hope that’s sooner rather than later. Assuming he wants to of course.