NY Islanders: Underlying statistics prove Ilya Sorokin has been much better than it appears

Los Angeles Kings v New York Islanders
Los Angeles Kings v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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There’s no questioning that the NY Islanders have one of the top goaltenders in the world in Ilya Sorokin. Fresh off an 8-year extension that will pay him $8.25M annually and a Vezina Trophy runner-up season, the Isles world-class backstop hasn’t looked his typical self since the start of the season. While his 3.04 GAA and .914 SV% are down from his career averages, underlying numbers say he’s playing on par with the rest of his career.

Looking at Sorokin’s numbers at 5v5 this season, he’s up there with the top netminders in the league. According to Natural Stat Trick, despite facing a barrage of rubber, seeing 557 shots at 5v5, Sorokin has posted an astounding .939 SV%, third best in the NHL among all goalies who’ve started at least ten games, trailing Jeremy Swayman and Samuel Montembeault. Additionally, his 2.05 GAA at 5v5 is seventh best in the league. Incredibly, these numbers are ahead of last season, where he finished with a .933 SV% and 2.08 SV%.

Sorokin’s bugaboo, along with the rest of the Islanders this season, has been the penalty kill. The Isles PK has been futile all season long, succeeding at a rate of just 71.9%, 31st in the league. Due in large part to the team's failures while short-handed, Sorokin has a SV% of just .808. While the adage is that your goaltender needs to be your best penalty killer, taking a look at Sorokin’s 5v5 numbers, it’s difficult to say he’s the reason for the shorthanded unit's shortcomings. 

One thing that is noticeable regarding Sorokin is his rebound control. In all situations, he’s allowed 137 rebound attempts against - fourth in the league and just three off the most. But this has been an issue throughout his career, as last season he led the league in this category with 498, which is 71 more than his Juuse Saros, who finished with the second most.

Semyon Varlamov has played exceptionally this season and is the perfect Robin to Sorokin’s Batman. Sure, Varly’s numbers have been great, but they’re likely not to be what they aren’t if he were to take on the workload of Sorokin. 

There have been calls on social media for Varlamov to take on a greater role, but as the numbers state, just a few tweaks to his game and average PK, and Sorokin’s overall numbers are right back to where they were last season. With 50 games remaining, he’ll likely sort out the few issues he’s currently having, hopefully sending the Isles on a magical playoff run.