Since being drafted by the New York Islanders in the third round of the 2014 draft, Ilya Sorokin has avoided coming to North America. It seems those days may finally be over.
It’s been a bit of a slow news week thus far for New York Islanders fans. But Tuesday, KHL reporter Igor Eronko tweeted that CSKA goalie, and Islanders prospect, Ilya Sorokin has intentions of playing in the NHL next season.
This news should delight New York Islanders fans thoroughly. Sorokin has been touted as one of the best goalies playing outside of the NHL for the last five years, and his numbers back up that assessment.
In 2018-19, Sorokin posted the most shutouts in the KHL, with eleven. He had the best goals-against-average in the KHL playoffs at 1.19, and in those playoffs, he posted five more shutouts en route to a KHL playoffs MVP award.
The 24-year-old Russian has been a KHL all-star in his first four seasons there. Since his move to CSKA Moscow in his age 19 season, Sorokin has not posted a save percentage percentage of lower than .929. His highest save percentage since the move to CSKA? A .953, back in 2015-16.
He’s cruised through his first 17 games this season with a .939 SV percentage and another sub-two GAA of 1.45.
His numbers in Russia are immaculate. For the realists out there, you could say they’re too good to translate to North American-style hockey. That would probably be a correct assumption. The KHL has been touted by many as the world’s second-best league. But with the Russian league’s lower overall shot totals, it’s appropriate to assume a newcomer to the NHL would face a drop in stats like save percentage.
But the New York Islanders have Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn and goaile goach Piero Greco. After Thomas Greiss saw his worst career season in 2017-18, Korn and Greco stepped in and coached him to a great 2018-19 campaign. He’s continued that success into this season.
The great work Korn and Greco have done in their first two seasons with the Islanders has been a big part of the team’s success. It will be interesting to see what they can do with one of the best goalies in the world not currently playing on an NHL roster.