NY Islanders Plus/Minus 2023-24: Ilya Sorokin is everything to the blue and orange

Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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What more could Ilya Sorokin have accomplished in 2022-23?

Not much is the answer. The only thing missing from the NY Islanders' star netminder was a Vezina Trophy being added to his trophy collection. Unfortunately, a fantastic season from the record-setting Boston Bruins, in large part due to the performance of Linus Ullmark, was the only thing standing between Sorokin and hardware.

Last season still was not a lost one for the Russian netminder, even without coming away with an award, as he cemented himself as one of the best goalies in the world and looks to remain at the top for the foreseeable future. He ranked in the top five of every major goaltending category this past season and was a huge reason that the Islanders even made the playoffs, where they ended up losing in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes. That is the reason GM Lou Lamoriello chose not to waste any time signing him to an eight-year extension worth $8.25 million per season.

The future is bright in the net for the Isles with Sorokin being the man for the next nine seasons. If he is starting in the playoffs for New York, they will always have a shot to make a big run, with their next chance coming in 2023-24 to avenge their first-round loss.


The stats speak for themselves on Sorokin's productivity last season. He finished the regular season with a 31-22-7 record, carrying an Islanders team that had a hard time scoring. He also led the league with six shutouts and finished with a .924 save percentage and 2.34 goals against average, but somehow, none of these stats were even career highs for the white whale. As a result, he was voted to the NHL's Second All-Star team, finishing second in Vezina Trophy voting.

When watching the Russian netminder, you can tell how gifted he is athletically and why the Isles are lucky to have him. His positional play while covering the net is top-notch, up there with the likes of Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy. He showcases so much athleticism with his flexibility and quick reactions, specifically on breakaways when he has to act quickly. Incredible saves became almost a nightly occurrence for Islanders fans to watch, and he may be the best in the league at making desperation saves with his paddle.

All these attributes of his game resulted in him stealing plenty of games for the blue and orange. As mentioned above, the Islanders had plenty of trouble scoring and did not find themselves in the offensive zone often and their power play seldom gave Sorokin any padding on the scoresheet. This was especially true when the Islanders lost their most dynamic player, Mat Barzal, due to injury, and plenty of other forwards, such as Bo Horvat and Anders Lee, suffered because of it, which again did not help Sorokin. It's rare that the most entertaining player on a hockey team is the goaltender, but it is indeed the case on Long Island, and he deserves much better from the team in front of him next season.


If there's anybody on the Islanders who did not do anything this season worthy of the "Minus" category, it's Sorokin.

However, the biggest problem for him in his third season in the NHL was getting overworked, specifically in March as the Isles' playoff push was in full swing. Semyon Varlamov, with Sorokin, create arguably one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL, only played two games in March, losing both games. He did not start a single game in April either, only coming off the bench in relief during a 5-0 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Islanders did what they had to do to get into the playoffs, which Sorokin was a big part of, but that is when the fatigue showed the most. Sorokin played well in the games that the Islanders won - but in both games two and four of the series against the Canes, he let up two goals in overtime that a non-fatigued Sorokin probably does not give up, one to Jesper Fast and the series-winner to Paul Stastny. This was one of the few reasons the Islanders lost the series, but considering how the rest of the team played all series long, it's hard to pin it solely on him.

The only thing Sorokin could have asked more of last season was coming away with his first-ever Vezina Trophy, which would have been the first Islanders winner since Billy Smith in 1982-83. Luckily for Isles fans, they can expect this elite quality of play in goal for years to come.