Since 1979, the New York Islanders haven’t had someone league the league in save percentage. Can that change with Ilya Sorokin?
The Islanders have a new, young and exciting goalie in Ilya Sorokin. In Russia, he put up video game-like numbers on a regular basis. The question that I have isn’t can Sorokin be the guy? It’s how good can he be?
Did you know in the Islanders history, they have only had one player lead the league in save percentage? No, it wasn’t Billy Smith either.
Chico Resch had the league’s best save percentage in 1976, with a .9276 save percentage, and then again in 1979 with a .9142 save percentage. A .914 seems low in today’s world but that was the start of the scoring era. The next time a league leader had a .920 or above was in 1994.
Anyway, the Islanders and sustained goalie play haven’t been in the conversation for a long time now. Sure, they had a few good stop-gap options but really since Rick DiPietro, and even that’s a bit debatable, the Isles haven’t had a true franchise goalie.
Sorokin is believed to be that guy, and certainly, there is good reason to believe that he is even without him playing a game in the league just yet.
One of the main reasons why Sorokin came over here is the infrastructure. Barry Trotz, Mitch Korn, and Piero Greco is a Goalies dream. Just look at the work that they’ve done over the last two years.
In Robin Lehner’s lone season here, he had a .930 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average. Thomas Greiss, who was coming off the worst year of his career, averaged a .920 save percentage and a 2.51 goals against average in the two years with those three.
Heck, even Semyon Varlamov bounced back nicely. Varly had a .914 save percentage and a 2.62 goals against average this year and in the playoffs had a .921 save percentage.
With all due respect to all three of those goalies, none are on the same level as Ilya Sorokin in raw talent. The chances of Sorokin being molded into an elite starting goalie are extremely high based on circumstance alone.
If anyone can do it, these guys can. So while leading the league in save percentage is definitely a tough ask. I wouldn’t put it past him.
So you know what? I’ll go out on the limb, I’ll say it. Ilya Sorokin will be the next Islander to lead the league in save percentage. It might not be this year, but during his tenure, he will be an elite level goalie for this team.