Can Ilya Sorokin Be The Next Billy Smith?

Islanders fans have waited and waited to see Russian Goaltender Ilya Sorokin debut in the National Hockey League.  The goaltender was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2014 NHL entry draft.  The phenom has had plenty of seasons to develop in the KHL and he is likely to finally appear in the NHL this upcoming season.  Sorokin trained with the Islanders throughout the Islanders’ time in the bubble.   Tuesday, July 14, Sorokin was officially an Islander.  The netminder signed a one-year contract worth 2 million dollars for his preliminary season right before the NHL 2020 playoffs.  He did not get any action during the playoffs because the deal was for the following 2020 season.

Sorokin Already Entered Rick DiPietro Territory

The Islanders were extremely confident at the 2000 NHL entry draft and selected the best goaltender of the draft class in Rick DiPietro.  DiPietro became the talk of the island in an instant and fans were extremely excited to see DiPietro in action.  In 318 career games, DiPietro was mediocre at best as his career concluded quickly as a result of an injury.  However, Sorokin seems to be this highly-touted prospect coming onto Long Island and hopefully excels instantly.  Sorokin has easily received DiPietro-level hype in New York.  If everything goes according to plan, he may become a franchise goalie and a top-two goalie of all-time in franchise history.

Sorokin Is Destined To Succeed

Lou Lamoriello tactically planned the future regarding the Islanders’ goalie tandem.  During the 2019 offseason, Lamoriello was tasked with replacing beloved goalie Robin Lehner after one spectacular season.  Lamoriello signed Semyon Varlamov to a four-year deal.  Sorokin has made it known that he idolized Varlamov growing up.  Lamoriello pounced on the opportunity upon hearing this news to sign the veteran Varlamov.  The two Russian netminders will likely share the net this season and most fans are expecting good things from this tandem.  Varlomav in addition to his on-ice performance will be crucial in his counterpart’s development.

The Coaching Staff

The Islanders head coach Barry Trotz is a true genius.  He has one of the best hockey IQs in the entire NHL.  Trotz and goalie coach Mitch Korn seem to help their goalies produce solid numbers despite resetting with new tandems in the net the past two seasons.  Korn and Trotz help the Islanders tremendously in being a top-defensive team putting up some of the best goals against per game the last two seasons.  They will likely have another mastermind season with an average team on paper and yet excel when it matters: the playoffs.  Trotz and Korn will be instrumental in Sorokin’s success.


Sorokin was drafted by the right team at the right time.  The Islanders are formidable on defense and will ease the youngster into his job in the NHL Circuit.  Also, he will be playing alongside his role model for the upcoming season and future.  Trotz and Korn will likely be a phenomenal helping hand in developing this Russian destined star.  Therefore, if the stars align, the Islanders will have the next Billy Smith as their franchise netminder.  Smith is the best goalie of all-time to wear orange and blue, however, don’t be surprised if he has contention as Sorokin has the tools to perform phenomenally in the NHL.  Can Sorokin surpass the legend, Billy Smith?  Sorokin is likely to be a star and will add his name to the Isles’ greats behind the net in all likelihood.

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