New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin is getting some healthy praise again and there’s no reason to think he won’t live up to the hype.
There are a number of reasons to look forward to the New York Islanders 2020-21 season. Seeing how they improve on a 2019-20 season that saw them progress to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993 is chief amongst those reasons.
Seeing goalie Ilya Sorokin suit up for his first NHL season is right there with it. The Russian goalie put pen to paper on a single year $2 million deal for the 2020-21 season just before the start of the 2020 playoffs.
The Islanders have been looking for a consistent starter between the pipes to hitch their wagon to for years
Now it finally seems like they have one in Sorokin. And if the hype is to be believed (and it should) he could be one of the better goalies in the league.
Better Than the Rest
We’re already well aware that Ilya Sorokin was an absolute stud out in Russia before signing his ELC and then his one-year deal for 20-21 with the Islanders.
Through eight years between Metallurg Novokuznetsk (now in the KHL’s lower league VHL) and CSKA Moscow, Sorokin holds an incredible 134-64-22 regular-season record and 1.70GAA and 0.930SV%. It gets even better in the playoffs where he holds a 50-17 record with a 1.37 GAA and 0.940 SV%.
On that note alone, Islanders fans should be excited about Ilya Sorokin. But on top of just his numbers are glowing predictions about what Sorokin can be at the NHL level. We heard how Igor Eronko, now assistant GM for KHL side Avangard Omsk, discussed Sorokin’s talent level compared to his compatriot and now fellow New Yorker Igor Shesterkin (subscription required).
Now add Scott Wheeler to the mix. Writing for The Athletic, Wheeler reiterated the claims made by Eronko about how mechanically sound and positionally aware Sorokin is, but he added that the Isles newest shot-stopper could very well be better than three other young goalies (subscription required) that are already putting up good numbers in the NHL:
- Ilya Samsonov (Washington Capitals)
- Alexandar Georgiev (New York Rangers)
- Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers)
Just consider what Wheeler said there and who we’re talking about.
Samsonov, a first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2015, played 26 NHL games in 2019-20 averaging a 2.55GAA and 0.913SV%. He was good enough for the Capitals to let Braden Holtby walk in free agency. Holtby aided that decision with some poor play this season.
Georgiev has been around for a while now. In 77 NHL games, he’s put up a 35-31-7 record with a 3.00GAA and 0.913SV%.
Igor Shesterkin made the jump from the KHL this season. He started the year in the AHL putting up a 17-4-3 record and a 1.90GAA with a 0.934SV%. Great numbers. He was promoted to the NHL where he recorded a 10-2-0 record with a 2.52GAA and 0.932SV% this season. He’s been incredible for the Rangers and one of the reasons why they were able to escape the bottom and almost make the postseason.
Sorokin is likely better than all of them, according to Wheeler. And that’s based on talent alone. Not based on the resources available to Sorokin. Like Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn and goalie coach Piero Greco. Both have been able to turn goalies from ordinary to incredible. Putting Sorokin in his hands, along with the legendary Barry Trotz defensive system is going to be something incredible to see.
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Trying to predict how a goalie will perform is typically a perilous proposition. But when it comes to Ilya Sorokin, there’s no reason to think he won’t be as advertised. If not better.