NY Islanders: 5 reasons why Ilya Sorokin should be a Vezina Finalist

New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers
New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers / Lawrence Scott/GettyImages
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Islanders MVP

You can make an argument that Sorokin deserves Hart Trophy votes as much as he does for the Vezina. That is how important and integral he was to the Islanders' success this season. Not only are the Isles not a playoff team without him, they're likely not a playoff contender.

As the team struggled to adapt to subtle changes in Lane Lambert's system to make them more offensively focused compared to Barry Trotz, they struggled defensively, consistently allowing a significant number of high-danger shots and scoring opportunities. Nevertheless, Sorokin kept them in games long enough to mount a series of early season comeback wins and allowed one or fewer goals in 22 starts this season.

Apr 21, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders celebrate the victory against the Carolina
Apr 21, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders celebrate the victory against the Carolina / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

“I think it’s just his demeanor and his focus,” Lambert said in early April. “He’s been asked (by the media) within the last week about how he blocks everything out — he’s a very focused individual that has certainly come along way in his short career, and we feel like he’s in a good spot right now.”

Ultimately, Sorokin wasn't able to steal a series as many hoped against the favored Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. Sorokin was good but not great throughout the series, allowing crucial goals from bad angles in Game 2 and the series-ending OT winner in Game 6.

None of that takes away from what was a spectacular regular season filled with spectacular moments that have ascended Sorokin into the conversation among the NHL's best goaltenders. A UFA after next season, Sorokin has the chance to become the most decorated regular-season goaltender in team history if his contract is extended.