In the grand scheme of his career, Ilya Sorokin has been in the NHL for very little time and is already one of the most well-respected goaltenders in the league. In his time overseas, he created highlight after highlight saves and when he finally signed with the NY Islanders and crossed the pond, he was as advertised, and maybe more. Heading into the 2022-23 season, Sorokin is viewed as a top-3 goaltender in the NHL, and in tandem with Semyon Varlamov, the Islanders' goaltending situation is regarded as the best league-wide.
The Mezhdurechensk, Russia native took over starting goaltender duties at the very beginning of the 2021-22 season when Varlamov was sidelined with an injury to begin the year. Sorokin buoyed the 13-game road trip making the Islanders' first nine starts and posting a 5-2-2 record and a ridiculous .939 SV%. When the Islanders hit a bit of a snag, Sorokin did as well, however, he recovered much quicker than his comrades. In just 74 career games in the NHL, Sorokin has already accrued quite the reel of highlights filled with jaw-dropping saves. He received the save of the year award for his incredible display of athleticism, swatting a puck out of mid-air and stealing a goal from Artemi Panarin when the Islanders took on the New York Rangers on March 17th. The Islanders went on to win the game 2-1.
"When we see (Sorokin's) confidence and see the saves he’s making, it gives us an opportunity every night. That’s all you can ask for from him. Tonight is one that, as tight as it was, he helped steal that for us."- Anders Lee after 2-1 victory vs NYR
Sorokin ended the season 26-18-8 with a 2.40 GAA and .925 SV%. Those are excellent numbers considering he was in net for a spiraling Islanders team. The advanced analytics loved him that much more. At 5v5, Sorokin ranks first with a .936 SV%, first overall with an impressive 26.77 GSAA, and third with a 2.03 GAA. In fact, in high-danger situations, he was even better ranking first overall at 5v5 with a 0.883 HDSV%, 1.03 HDGAA, and 20.75 HDGSAA, about six more HDGSAA than the next best goaltender.
Now heading into 2022-23, the Islanders blue line appears to be improved, they're definitely younger, and will be more mobile. The upgrade in front of Sorokin will translate well for the 27-year-old netminder. He was snubbed of Vezina Trophy candidacy last season, however, is seen as a favorite to compete for the award of the NHL's best goaltender this upcoming season. In tandem with Varlamov, Sorokin and the Islanders are looking to return to the playoffs and just might rebound with their elite goaltending presence.