New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin has had an amazing first few seasons on Long Island so far. Drafted 78th overall in 2014, Sorokin debuted for the Islanders in the shortened 2020-21 season. In the meantime, Sorokin continued to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for Metallurg Novokuznetsk before being traded to HC CSKA Moscow.
Sorokin’s final KHL season came in 2019-20, a year after winning Gagarin Cup Playoffs MVP. Although Sorokin could not join the Islanders for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, he was able to help during the next season.
After some incredible play in the KHL, here is Ilya Sorokin’s Islanders tenure so far.
Sorokin debuted for the Islanders on January 16, 2021, after Semyon Varlamov was injured during warm-ups. Against the rival New York Rangers, Sorokin surrendered five goals in a 5-0 defeat. However, Sorokin would significantly improve as the season continued.
Following losses against the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, Sorokin bounced back with a vengeance. He recorded eight consecutive wins during his next eight starts, including two shutouts over the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.
After allowing four goals vs. the Penguins on March 27, Sorokin stopped 79 out of 85 shots during his next three starts. From there, Sorokin appeared in seven of the Islanders’ final 14 games of the season.
Sorokin finished his rookie season with a 13-6-3 record, a .918 save percentage, and three shutouts over 22 games. In addition, he finished 15th in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy, receiving four votes.
2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Sorokin made his postseason debut in Game 1 of the Islanders’ first-round series vs. the Penguins. In the game, Sorokin stopped 39 out of 42 shots to help give the Islanders a 4-3 overtime victory.
Despite Sorokin’s stellar play in Game 1, Varlamov started the next two games upon returning from injury. However, Varlamov struggled to play through his injuries, as the Islanders fell behind in the series, 2-1.
Sorokin re-entered the series in Game 4, stopping 29 out of 30 shots and allowing the Islanders to tie the series in a dominant 4-1 win. In Game 5, Sorokin fought off 48 of the Penguins’ 50 shots to put the Islanders ahead in the series, 3-2.
In the series-clinching Game 6, Sorokin’s 34 saves sent the Islanders to the second round of the playoffs. However, this would be the peak of Sorokin’s 2021 playoff campaign.
After a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins to open the second round, Sorokin’s starting job went back to Varlamov for the rest of the playoffs. Sorokin would make two more appearances in the 2021 playoffs, both in relief of Varlamov; these came in Games 2 & 5 of the Islanders’ semi-final series vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sorokin ended the 2021 postseason with a 4-1 record and a .922 save percentage over five starts.
2021-22 Season (First Half)
Prior to the season, Sorokin signed a three-year, $12 million contract to remain with the Islanders.
Head coach Barry Trotz named Sorokin as the starter for the Islanders’ 2021-22 season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite this, Sorokin had limited success to begin the season, as he allowed 10 goals on 69 shots in his first two games.
Sorokin would improve later in October, as he won three of his final five starts of the month. He finished the first month of 2021-22 with a 3-2-2 record and a .931 save percentage over seven games.
In November, Sorokin continued to play well while the Islanders did not. After winning his first two games of the month against the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets, Sorokin dropped the next four. Sorokin was 5-6-2 through the first two months of the season, holding a .928 save percentage.
December dealt Sorokin several close losses. Sorokin lost three games past regulation, including a shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on December 19. Through the first three months of the season, Sorokin had a 7-7-5 record and a .926 save percentage over 19 games.
2021-22 Season (Second Half)
2022 started on a positive note for Sorokin, as he helped the Islanders to a 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers on New Year’s Day. In spite of a 12-day hiatus due to COVID-19, January continued to be a strong month for Sorokin. He won each of his first five starts that month, finishing with a 5-1 record.
Sorokin entered February with a 12-8-5 record and a .923 save percentage. These totals were relatively unchanged during the month, as he won five of his 10 starts. By the end of February, Sorokin had a 17-11-7 record and a .923 save percentage.
March saw Sorokin flourish in front of the net. He started eight games that month, winning five of them. This included a four-game win streak from March 5-17, capped off by an incredible save against the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin. Sorokin had a 22-14-7 record and a .927 save percentage heading into the final month of the season.
In April, Sorokin started nine games, going 4-4-1. His final win of the season came vs. the Washington Capitals on April 26, as he allowed just one goal in a 4-1 Islanders victory. Additionally, Sorokin was also in net for the Islanders’ season finale, a 6-4 loss to the Lightning on April 29.
Sorokin concluded his first full season with a 26-18-8 record, a .925 save percentage, and seven shutouts over 52 games. He finished sixth in Vezina Trophy voting, losing out to the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin.
Now that we have seen Ilya Sorokin’s Islanders tenure so far, let’s look at what his 2022-23 season may look like.
Prediction for 2022-23
Based on Sorokin’s results over his first two seasons, it is likely that he will continue to dominate in front of the net. Last season saw Sorokin take his first leap into a full NHL season, as he started 52 out of the Islanders’ 82 games. While it may not have been the best season for the Islanders, it gave Sorokin some valuable experience as a starter.
2022-23 prediction: 28-17-9 record, .927 save percentage, 2.38 goals-against average.
This has been Ilya Sorokin’s Islanders tenure so far. It will be exciting to see him in net this coming season.