The nominees for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL goaltender who is "adjudged to be the best at this position," will be announced on Thursday, and the New York Islanders' Ilya Sorokin is expected to be among the three finalists.
2022-23 was the season Islanders fan patiently waited so long for while Sorokin starred in the KHL before finally signing a contract with the Islanders in 2020.
The 27-year-old finished his third NHL season with a 31-22-7 record, was sixth in the league with a 2.34 goals against average (GAA), and finished third with a .924 save percentage. This past season was his first since coming to North America, where he was the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender to start the year, and he more than proved he was capable of handling the added responsibility.
After appearing in 52 games the prior season and finishing sixth in Vezina Trophy voting, Sorokin was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and represented the Metropolitan Division during the weekend with Brock Nelson and newly acquired Bo Horvat.
While Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins (league leader in wins, GAA, and save %) is expected to win the Vezina after a historic regular season, Sorokin was the darling of the advanced analytics crowd for his saves above expected numbers, and other media members felt he more deserving as well given the impact on the team.
It would be a surprise if Sorokin took home the Vezina, but it would be a shock if he wasn't one of the three finalist for the trophy. Here are 5 reasons why we expect him to be a Vezina finalist.