For years, we as Islanders fans were hearing about the legend of Ilya Sorokin. His numbers in the KHL seemed otherworldly, and he became known as the “white whale” as it seemed like he would never come over to Long Island.
Well, that finally changed in 2021 and we saw an NHL season under the belt of Sorkin and boy did it live up to the hype.
Ironically, it didn’t start that way. Due to a freak accident in warmups, Sorokin was thrown in the net in the second game of the season against the Rangers and it didn’t go well. He let in five goals and had a .844 save percentage.
Then in his third start, he allowed four goals in an overtime loss to Philadelphia. Would you believe it but people were ready to write off Sorokin after three starts. Sorokin must’ve channeled his inner Michael Jordan (it became personal with me) because the run he’d go on after that was tremendous.
Over his final 19 games played he would finish with a .927 save percentage and three shutouts. In his two February starts he had two shoutouts and he really thrived in April and May finishing with a .927 sv% and 2.09 GAA in April and a .924 sv% and 2.05 GAA in May.
Even after a bumpy start, Sorokin finished his regular season with a .918 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average. For a rookie goalie, you can’t ask for too much better.
In the playoffs, Sorokin was just as stellar. He started five games for the Isles between the Pittsburgh and Boston series and finished with a .922 save percentage including a 48 save performance against the Penguins in Game 5.
After a rocky start to the series, he helped get them back on track in the Penguins series and is a big reason why they were able to come back down 2-1 in the series.
I know it was just 21 starts for Ilya, but he showed he could be the starter if need be going forward. I understand it will likely be a split again next year but with Ilya Sorokin’s play, he proved that he can hang in the NHL.
For that reason, it seems like this is another easy grade to give out. His rookie year couldn’t have gone any better.
Final Grade: A