CSKA Moscow’s one-year offer for New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin reportedly contained an NHL-out clause.
At the moment, the New York Islanders can’t sign Sorokin for the 2019-20 season. The NHL is still holding that arbitrary line that unsigned draft picks can’t sign current year deals. Because as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daily stated: “Each team has kind of set its roster” (subscription required).
So until the NHL and NHLPA decide that teams can sign unsigned draft picks to current year deals, as it states in the CBA (see Critical Dates Calendar on page 344), Sorokin is likely going to mull all of his options.
One of those options was to possibly stay in Russia for the year.
Going to Russia?
On June 4, CSKA Moscow tweeted that they were in early talks with Sorokin on a one-year deal for the 2020-21 season. On June 9, Sorokin’s Russia-based agent Shumi Babaev told Sport24 that Sorokin was not in active negotiations with CSKA Moscow. According to Babaev, the “talks” were simply CSKA voicing their position to Sorokin.
I spoke with KHL insider Aivis Kalnins who indicated that this one-year offer from CSKA wasn’t necessarily for a full year but that it would have an NHL-out clause.
This deal from CSKA Moscow would allow Sorokin to hit the ice in September when the KHL is supposed to start and then go to the NHL to sign with the New York Islanders when their season starts up in December (or January).
While official NHL-out clauses were essentially forbidden in the KHL, there are ways to bend the rules in the Russian league.
Sorokin’s priority is to be in the NHL as soon as possible. But with the NHL’s insistence that current year deals cannot be signed, playing in the NHL could get pushed back for some time.
While CSKA is trying to tempt the prized goalie to stay, at least temporarily, they’ve got their own issues to deal with.
With a salary cap being implemented in the KHL for 2020-21, Kalnins stressed that it will be difficult if not next to impossible for CSKA to sign Sorokin and stay under the new KHL salary cap of ₽900 million (~$13 USD).
Sorokin is kind of stuck at the moment. He can’t sign a 2019-20 NHL deal (yet) and any deal in the KHL would prevent him from moving to the NHL unless he has an out clause. And it’s not like that KHL deal can be particularly lucrative.
Giving Sorokin the option to play before the NHL 2020 season starts up is the only card CSKA can play. But until the NHL and NHLPA decide on what is to happen with current year deals Sorokin will remain in limbo.