Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin has come to expect high expectations

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five
New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

Expectations are nothing new for the NY Islanders' Ilya Sorokin.

With every highlight from the KHL, every peek at his sub 2.00 GAA average while playing for CKSA Moscow, anticipation grew for the 2014 third-round pick (No. 78 overall). It appeared hard, if not impossible, for the 'white whale' to match the hype he received before reaching North America, but heading into his third NHL season, he's done exactly that.

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin has come to expect high expectations

On Monday, the NHL Network ranked their top 10 goaltenders in the league, and Sorokin was ranked 5th overall, behind only Jacob Markstrom (CGY), Juuse Saros (NSH), Igor Shesterkin (NYR), and Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB).

"Islanders fans need to be extremely excited because he was a big prospect. He was a lot of hype coming over. He was able to take a little bit of time, and he is now there, at that hype. If anybody watched the end of last season, it was pretty incredible."

Tony Luftman, NHL Network

Earlier this season, VegasInsider listed Sorokin among the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy, behind only 2019 winner Vasilievskiy and last year's award winner Shesterkin. The 27-year-old finished sixth in voting last season, earning one first, one second, and three third place votes. He was one of only four goalies to receive a first-place vote: Shesterkin (29), Frederik Andersen(1), and Vasilevskiy (1).

In his second season, Sorokin finished 26-18-8, with a 2.40 GAA, a .925 SV%, and seven shutouts. Sorokin was second in the league in SV% and shutouts (for goalies who played more than 20 games) and was fourth in GAA. But those stats don't tell the whole story.

Per Stefan Rosner in NYIHockeyNow, the advanced statistics paint an even better picture. Sorokin’s Goals Saved Above Average of 29.78, and his High Danger Save Percentage of .861 ranked second in the NHL. Sorokin ranked second in SV% and fourth in GAA per Natural Stat Trick amongst the 35 goaltenders that played in 1,980 minutes (33 starts or more), Sorokin faced the 13th most shots and had eighth-most rush attempts against.

Sorokin also won the NHL Fan Choice for "Save of the Year" for his sprawling stick stop against Artemi Panarin in a game at Madison Square Garden where he bested Shesterkin in a 2-1 Islanders victory. It was one in a career's worth of highlight reel saves Sorokin made in 2021-22, routinely showing him his world-class flexibility and agility when protecting his net.

"We know all the troubles the Islanders had last season," said Ken Daneyko during the NHL Network segment. "It would have been a lot worse without Sorokin. He's a remarkable goaltender. They're in good hands for many, many years."