The saga isn’t over yet on New York Islanders goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin.
For no particular reason at all, the NHL has decided that players can’t sign contracts for the 2019-20 season. That means, for now, New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin can’t sign his one-year ELC for this season.
I understood not signing contracts during the pandemic. It was neither the time nor place and with the season on pause so should some team activities, like signing new deals. But now that things have started to ease and that the NHL has unveiled its return to play plan, it’s confusing as to why they haven’t dropped the “no-2019-20-contracts” line.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. The New York Islanders didn’t find some sort of new loophole to exploit. This has been going on for years now. This was done as recently as 2019 when the Colorado Avalanche signed Hobey Baker winning defenseman Cale Makar on April 14, 2019.
According to the league, they feel the practice isn’t ‘fair’ now that teams have been ‘set’ following the trade deadline. In a recent piece on The Athletic (subscription required), Arthur Staple quoted NHL Deputy-Commissioner Bill Daily on the reason for the league’s stance:
"But it would be our position, particularly given the advanced date and given the fact it could affect a lot of the players who might now be able to play the balance of the season, it may be unfair to let them play the balance of the season. We’ve progressed past the trade deadline. Each team has kind of set its roster."
This sounds like a definitive answer. But the NHLPA hasn’t yet given its blessing on this issue. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, in an interview with ESPN, indicated that this issue is still on the table:
"ESPN: The NHL has taken a stance that no new player contracts can be signed for 2019-20, which would limit players coming over from the KHL for example to join their team in the playoffs if they hold his rights. I’m curious what the union’s stance is on this, and if this is something you’re going to fight for?Fehr: We have a whole raft of things that have to be negotiated before we can go forward, including something called the critical dates calendar, which encompasses all of the signing possibilities in the draft and everything else, plus all the transition rules that we’re going to have to have, much less try and resolve the major economic issues. And we’ve got to come to grips with all of those. And I’m not in a position now to comment on a specific in the manner that you just raised, but if you ask it more generally, are those all things that are on the table? The answer is yes."
The NHL has allowed this to practice to take place for years and now all of a sudden they decide to not honor it for…reasons.
Stopping teams from doing so now is ridiculous and seems completely arbitrary at this point.
Not Going to Russia
A report from Russia on Tuesday indicated that Ilya Sorokin and CSKA teammate Kirill Kaprizov would sign a deal to stay in the KHL. That report seems to be false.
Michael Russo indicated on Wednesday (subscription required) that this report was false. And then later on Wednesday, that claim was backed up by KHL insider Aivis Kalnins.
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The Ilya Sorokin saga with the New York Islanders is not over just yet. In the late afternoon on Wednesday, Lou was on the Michael Kay Show and indicated that a ruling is expected on this issue soon.