New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin is among the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy next season according to Vegas Insider. Sorokin, who will be entering his third season in the NHL, has the third best odds behind two prior Vezina winners in the Rangers' Igor Shesterkin (2022) and the Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy.
2022-23 VEZINA TROPHY ODDS
- Igor Shesterkin +250
- Andrei Vasilevskiy +500
- Ilya Sorokin +800
- Juuse Saros +1000
- Thatcher Demko +1800
- Jake Oettinger +1800
- Jacob Markstrom +2000
New York Islanders: Sorokin among Vezina Trophy favorites this season
In this year's voting, Sorokin finished sixth, earning one first, one second, and three third place votes. He was one of only four goaltenders to receive a first-place vote: Shesterkin (29), Frederik Andersen (1), and Vasilevskiy (1).
In May, Michel Anderson took a closer look as to whether Sorokin deserved to be a Vezina Finalist The 26-year-old net-minder finished in the Top 5 of three key categories: GAA: 2.40 (4th), SV %: 0.925 (2nd) and Shutouts: 7 (2nd). He also won NHL save of the year honors after the season.
Where Sorokin lacked was wins. His 26 ranked him 18th in the league last season, the only notable category where he fell outside of the top 10. Wins is a team stat, but it certainly carries weight with NHL General Managers when making their vote.
To have more wins you need two things: a playoff team and opportunity. While the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time since 2018-19, Sorokin logged plenty of starts. His 52 GP is well short of Jusse Saros' 67, but only one behind Vezina Trophy-winning Shesterkin.
If things go as planned for the Islanders next season, the thing impacting Sorokin's candidacy the most might be the availability of Semyon Varlamov. A season ago, the Islanders' veteran goaltender missed training camp leading to Sorokin starting the team's first nine games of the season. When Varlamov returned, he struggled, taking over a month to win his first game on December 16th against the Boston Bruins.
As GM Lou Lamoriello has seemingly determined to keep the Varlamov-Sorokin tandem in place next season. If healthy and effective, the expectation is that head coach Lane Lambert would have a more even game distribution next season. The Islanders are paying Varlamov $5M AAV to be the backup goaltender. That's a luxury, and while the Russian tandem is expected to be among the best in the league, keeping Varlamov at his price tag to only play him 20-25 games doesn't make sense.
Last season ended with a feeling that as good as Sorokin was, he could be better. That is reflected in the odds that he will move into Vezina finalist territory in 2022-23. If he plays enough and the Islanders win enough, its a good bet that he will do just that.