NY Islanders: Making the case for Ilya Sorokin over Igor Shesterkin

2023 NHL All-Star - Skills Competition
2023 NHL All-Star - Skills Competition / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Though Shesterkin entered the league a year earlier than Sorokin, the two have followed similar career paths. While Shesterkin started his career in the AHL, putting up lights-out numbers, Sorokin began his career in North America, stepping right into the NHL. Entering their first full NHL seasons in 2020-21, Shesterkin took the starting role while Sorokin played backup to Semyon Varlamov as he became familiar with the NHL game.

The two may spend their free time together and are among the elite in the crease, but they don't necessarily play similar styles. Shesterkin likes to leave his crease to play the puck as he's one of the top stickhandling netminders in the world, often looking to score when the opposition's goalie is pulled. Sorokin doesn't share this skill set, even mentioning during an interview at the NHL Awards that he has no desire to score. He prefers to remain between the pipes, showcasing his all-world flexibility, rarely seeming fazed.

Shesterkin has seen more starts, earning 153 since entering the NHL, with a win in 64.7%. On the other hand, Sorokin has seen the starters crease 133 times, claiming victory 52.6% of the time. While Shesterkin's Rangers have finished above the Islanders in the standings in both seasons, Sorokin's numbers suffered mightily during the 2021-22 season as the Isles were one of the most impacted teams in terms of games missed due to COVID. The team wrestled with the fact they were fielding a glorified AHL team, as the goal department was severely impacted.

Regarding SV% and GAA, there is very little separating the two. Both have a career .924 SV%, with Sorokin holding a slight edge in GAA at 2.34 compared to Shesterkin's 2.37. Where Sorokin does hold a significant advantage in the shutout department. Despite starting 20 fewer games, Sorokin's 16 clean sheets are five more than Shesterkin's 11. A difference of five may not seem like much, but Sorokin's 12% is a significant lead over Shesterkin's 7.2%, as he's recorded the highest shutout per games started percentage in NHL history.