It's been expected for months, but now it's official.
Ilya Sorokin is a Vezina Trophy Finalist for the first time in his career. He is joined by Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets.
The New York Islanders goaltender appeared in a career-high 62 games this season, posting a solid 31-22-7 record as the team's workhorse down the stretch of the season as the Islanders clinched a playoff berth in their final regular season game of the season. In doing so, he became only the fifth goaltender in team history to win 30 games in a season and the first since Jaroslav Halak won a club-record 38 in 2014-15.
The 27-year-old Sorokin finished sixth in the league with a 2.34 goals against average (GAA) and was third with a .924 save percentage. He also had a league-best six shutouts after recording seven the previous season. Sorokin already has 16 shutouts for his career, third most in team history behind only Billy Smith (22) and Glenn 'Chico' Resch (25).
Sorokin further separated him from other goaltenders around the league when it came to advanced statistics. Per Natural Stat Trick, which calculates Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA), which is the difference between a goalie's Goals Against and a Goals Against with the same Shots Against and the average SV%, he was second in the league with 36.12, behind only Ullmark who finished at 48.54.
If there was a most valuable goalie trophy, it would go to Sorokin as it is hard to fathom the Islanders qualifying for the playoffs without his play in net that repeatedly kept the team in-games and bailed them out of situations that allowed them to pick up points they wouldn't have otherwise earned.
However, the Vezina is likely going to Ullmark, whose traditional goalie statistics were off-the-charts good for a Bruins team that set the NHL record for points in the regular season. Ullmark was tied for first in the NHL in wins (40) and led the league in GAA (1.89) and save percentage (.938). Meanwhile, Hellebuyck is a previous Vezina Trophy winner, taking the trophy after the 2019–20 season. He appeared in 64 games for the Jets, finishing with a 37-25-2 record, 2.49 GAA, and .920 save %.
Sorokin is the first Islanders goaltender to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy since Robin Lehner was in 2018-19, a year where the combination of Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the league. Sorokin was sixth in Vezina Trophy voting last season. Billy Smith is the only Islander to win the Vezina, capturing the trophy in 1982.