As if you didn't already know, patience has paid off for the New York Islanders with Ilya Sorokin. Drafted by the Islanders 78th overall in 2014, Sorokin made a name for himself overseas as one of the best goaltenders outside of the NHL. He finally crossed over to the other side of the pond in the 2019-20 season (although he didn't play), and has been every bit as advertised in his brief NHL career.
This is a continuation of the player-level report cards that we started this offseason. You can read the other ones here:
Defense: Sebastian Aho|Zdeno Chara|Noah Dobson|Scott Mayfield|Adam Pelech|Ryan Pulock
Forwards: Josh Bailey|Mathew Barzal|Anthony Beauvillier|Kieffer Bellows|Casey Cizikas|Cal Clutterbuck|Anders Lee|Brock Nelson|Matt Martin|Kyle Palmieri|Jean-Gabriel Pageau|Zach Parise|Oliver Wahlstrom
Team Level: New York Islanders
Islanders 2021-22 report cards: Ilya Sorokin
Overall Results: A+
After a glowing first crack at the NHL in the 2020-21 season, Sorokin didn't fall victim to the sophomore slump in his first 82-game season. In fact, he took it a step further by being one of the NHL's best goaltenders. Sorokin's .925 SV% in 52 starts ranked second overall among goaltenders who started in 30 or more games, second to only the presumed Vezina Trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin. He also posted a 2.40 GAA, ranked fourth overall in the NHL. That's an excellent GAA to begin with, but considering how the Islanders' season went it just goes to show you how good Sorokin really was.
Many view it as a snub, but Sorokin didn't receive a Vezina nomination. We know Shesterkin is the favorite to take it home anyway, but that shouldn't take away from Sorokin's spectacular season. For more than doubling his starts and maintaining elite goaltending status, Sorokin gets an A+.
Timely Saves: A
In just two seasons Sorokin has already accrued a plethora of highlight-reel saves. Saves that most of the time had you saying to yourself "how did that not go in?" The save we'll all refer to when reminiscing will be the one that came at Madison Square Garden against the rival New York Rangers. Artemi Panarin was even left looking to the rafters after this one:
Sorokin makes plenty of saves that probably should have been goals. His 12.8 goals saved above expected this season ranks 10th overall among goaltenders at all strengths. It's just the beginning of the 26-year-old net-minders NHL career, so expect plenty more where this comes from. Ranking in the top-10 in timely saves earns Sorokin an A.
Final Grade: A
Sorokin took hold of the starting goaltender reigns this season and never looked back. He's now the present and future of the Islanders crease and one that is expected to replicate plenty of seasons just like this. For an excellent season, Sorokin gets an A.