Do the Islanders have the best goaltending duo in the NHL now?

Earlier this week, future Hall of Famer goalie Marc-Andre Fleury notified the Chicago Blackhawks that he will indeed play for them this upcoming season. Fleury, who was traded back on July 27th, is now the head guy in Chicago after forming a formidable duo in Vegas for the past year-plus with Robin Lehner.

Last year, the two were declared the league’s best goaltending tandem between the pipes. Fleury won the Vezina Trophy for the first time in his career and together he and Lehner were awarded the William Jennings Trophy.

But with them no longer together, the question now is: Which team does have the best twosome in net? Look no further than the Islanders.

The duet of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin — already considered the top pairing in the Metropolitan Division after all the dust settled in free agency — have serious consideration for top billing at this moment. Both were terrific in 2020-21 and played a pivotal role in the Islanders getting back to the third round of the postseason for the second year in a row.

Stats-wise, Varlamov and Sorokin combined for a 2.23 GAA in the regular season (second in the league) and owned the top spot for save percentage with a stellar .925. Individually, they both excelled too. Varlamov, 33, played at a Vezina-worthy level all year and in the playoffs. He recorded a career-high in shutouts with seven — which tied for the best among goalies with Seattle’s Phillipp Grubauer — and his save percentage (.929) and goals-against (2.04) were also the best since turning pro.

Sorokin, who is on the verge of a contract extension, shined backing up Varlamov and was one of the top freshman netminders in a star-studded class. The Russian import was second behind Detroit’s Alex Nedeljkovic in several categories and won 13 of his 21 starts.

Now, you can make the point that there’s some bias knowing this is an Islander-centric piece and because Varlamov and Sorokin do get the benefit of playing in for a Barry Trotz-coached squad that is defense-first. Both are true. And yes, there’s several other duos that could be given that title — Phillipp Grubauer (Vezina finalist) and Chris Dreidger in Seattle, Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight in Florida, Fleury and Kevin Lankinen in Chicago.

But those tandems are new in a sense. The chemistry and rapport Varlamov and Sorokin have already and will keep moving forward needs to be accounted for. Trotz a few months back acknowledged the dynamic between the two as unbelievable.

“I think as friends, as teammates and countrymen, Trotz said. “If you know anything about Varly, Varly is a great mentor for not only a Russian goalie but any goalie in the NHL. He’s got a great demeanor.”

Goaltending is such a valuable piece to winning in the NHL and the Isles for the last few years have seen how far it can take you. Each of the duos they’ve had have been could have been argued as being the de-facto best in the league.

The season isn’t upon us for another two months, but at this moment though, Varlamov and Sorokin just might be that.

Scott Mayfield really took his game to new heights in the postseason. He seems to be doing the same now with his free time in the summer.

Mayfield was on NHL Network yesterday discussing his newest venture of flying thunderbirds with his brother Patrick. Brother Patrick is a captain in the Air Force.

“It was cool,” he said in the clip. “I was a little nervous. There’s so many buttons and it’s a little small back here, so I kept my legs in. I didn’t want to touch anything I wasn’t supposed to. I sat pretty tight to myself.”

 

Islanders now have possible layout for Ilya Sorokin’s next contract

The days just keep on passing, and still, we have not heard a peep from the Islanders. General manager Lou Lamoriello has literally driven the entire league mad (no seriously) and has the fan base still waiting with anticipation that new deals for several key names will be announced soon. Other teams continue to fill up their rosters with their own restricted free agents and those players still on the market.

That includes the Islanders’ division rival just a few miles away in Manhattan, the Rangers. USA Today/lohud.com’s Vincent  Mercogliano reported yesterday the Blueshirts were on the verge of locking up starting goalie Igor Shesterkin to a long-term contract that would pay him close to $6M a year.

So how does this have any effect on the Islanders? Well, Shesterkin’s latest deal might be a layout for Ilya Sorokin, his fellow countrymen and backup to starter Semyon Varlamov.

The length of Shesterkin’s contract — which Mercogliano pointed to being between five and six years — seems like the ideal amount for Sorokin. Sorokin turns 26 tomorrow and by the time that contract would end, the Mezhdurechensk native would be nearing age 32. In that time, the Islanders are expected to compete for a Stanley Cup while also finally handing him the keys as their franchise goalie who would be in his prime.

Sorokin just finished a very successful first campaign playing in North America. He came into his own in the regular season forming a terrific one-two punch with Varlamov and played a key role in the team’s run in the playoffs. He was an RFA coming into this offseason after his first contract he signed last summer expired at the conclusion of the postseason.

The Islanders also see Sorokin as next in line to succeed Varlamov. Varlamov is signed for another two seasons at $5M per with him holding a modified no-trade clause, according to CapFriendly.com.

Now speaking of money, Mercogliano said the number would come between the $5.75-$6M range. That sounds pretty steep for a goalie who only has 47 career games to his name. Sorokin has played less than that but has found more success in an even a shorter amount of time. But it would be unthinkable for Lamoriello to offer that amount to Sorokin knowing that he would then have two goaltenders racking up close to $12M of cap space and still having to deal with a flat cap situation.

Sorokin did say in a lengthy chat with a Russian news outlet over the weekend he was hoping to have a new contract in the next few weeks. He acknowledged he has no desire to go back to the KHL as well.

The interesting thing is Sorokin can very well return home if the Islanders were to offer him one-year deal for this upcoming season. That seems highly unlikely based on how close the Isles are to a championship, but also that they don’t have many candidates behind Sorokin who could jump right into the NHL. Jakub Skarek probably seems to need a few more seasons in the AHL. Beyond that, most of the goalies in the system are recent draft picks still in juniors or playing at the college level.

Sorokin is obviously the Islanders’ future in net and he enjoys playing for the organization. His next contract could have the same look as Shesterkin’s in many ways. We’ll know soon on when the two sides come to an agreement. That said, the Isles now have an idea of how they can get it done.

 

Ilya Sorokin exceeded expectations for the Islanders in year one

For a long time, Islanders fans had heard about Ilya Sorokin. They had heard he was the best goaltender not playing in North America. They had heard he was a legend in his native Russia, dominating in the KHL. They had heard he was going to be the solution to the decades-long search for a franchise goaltender.

Now there’s no more doubt.

After waiting seven years for Sorokin”s arrival — he was drafted by the organization in 2014 — his excellence was finally put on display on the NHL stage. And boy did he not disappoint. Sorokin was everything as advertised that people both inside and outside the organization said he was expected to be.

Islanders’ g.m. Lou Lamoriello was on with WFAN’s Moose & Maggie yesterday following his end of the year conference call with the media and talked about Sorokin’s first full campaign in North America.

“He came in and did everything we thought he was capable of doing,” Lamoriello said in praising the 25-year-old. “He certainly had success in the KHL. We knew of him as a person. His quality was indicative of him taking his English lessons on a daily basis from day one. Never missed a day no matter what.”

Lamoriello added: “His play, his work ethic in practice won over the players. So as I use the expression, he’s an Islander. There’s no question between he and Varly brought to our team on and off the ice.”

The Islanders’ goaltending was the backbone behind the team getting back to the Eastern Conference finals for a second straight year. Sorokin had an exceptional regular season, winning 13 of his 21 starts, recording three shutouts and posting a .919 save percentage. There was even a stretch from mid-February to late-March where the team went undefeated with Sorokin starting.

But it was in the playoffs when Sorokin officially arrived and etched himself into the franchise’s fabled playoff lore.

Having to relieve Varlamov — who was dealing with a knee injury — Sorokin went a perfect 4-0 in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, including an unforgettable performance in a 3-2 OT win in Game 5 in Pittsburgh.

“I will say this about Ilya, he is very calm,” head coach Barry Trotz said during the postseason. “Everybody loves him. He’s one of those guys that is extremely low maintenance. I do know this: He tends to his own game. He tends to how we play, but he doesn’t watch a lot of other games around the League. I think he’s a very intelligent young man. He’s got a smile on his face a lot, so you know that he’s got a good sense of humor with the guys. But he’s really relaxed. I think he’s very confident in what he is as a goaltender and also as a person. He’s a really low-maintenance guy.”

Although his final start in the postseason was a loss, and his last appearance was mop up duty in the Game 5 blowout in Tampa, Sorokin still was a great story all around for the Islanders. Sure he didn’t win the Calder Trophy — that honor belonged to Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov; Sorokin did receive a few votes — but the Russian native showed this stage didn’t intimidate him, which earned the recognition and respect from the critics and fans. A prime example was the fans chanting his name on the Nassau Coliseum concourse after the Islanders ended the series against Pittsburgh after Game 6.

That was a great moment.

Sorokin pointed out on Sunday he enjoyed this year, especially with the “Hey Josh Bailey..” chant during the playoffs and playing “under the Islander flag”. The feeling was definitely mutual for all those Isles fans who got to witness what they had only heard about for so long.

The future is bright for the organization, and Sorokin is going to play a major part of it. He lived up to the hype in year one and is only going to get better from here on out.

The Islanders have something this season they haven’t had in a long time

There’s a old saying in the sport of hockey: “the future has arrived”. Some say it’s a phrase that can be overrun until that reality smacks you straight in the face. Time and time again, the word future and the Islanders have become one in the same as the years have gone by. But this season, that future has taken a clear hold of where the franchise is hoping to go and looking to stay for the foreseeable future.

The Isles, and their fans for that matter, are seeing a dynamic in this COVID-induced year they haven’t witnessed in a long time — prospects living up or exceeding expectations. Three names in particular, Oliver Wahlstrom, Ilya Sorokin and Noah Dobson, have made this “youth movement” an enjoyable one for everyone to watch.

Even as Dobson deals with being in COVID protocol — yesterday marked his tenth day on the league’s list — he was having a solid sophomore campaign and was near the top in stats for defensemen on the club.

As for Wahlstrom and Sorokin, both of them have played a significant role in the team’s success and have people around the league buzzing.

The 20-year-old Wahlstrom has proven to be the sniper the organization has been clamoring for for what seems like decades. He’s already tallied eight goals, each more impressive to the last, and has 15 points overall in just 26 games. Mind you he’s doing this as a bottom-six forward — he’s playing on the third line centered by J.G. Pageau — which makes what’s he’s been doing extremely admirable. Wahlstrom’s teammate Sorokin, albeit five years older, as I wrote yesterday is showing he’s as advertised from how spectacular he was during his dominating tenure in the his homeland in the KHL.

“His confidence is growing and you see that in net,” Casey Cizikas said about Sorokin a few weeks back. “His work ethic in practice is above and beyond. He’s working and he’s getting better at his game. You’re seeing that out there. He’s made some really big saves for us at some key times.”

Sorokin has helped provide the Isles with essentially the best goaltending duo in the NHL along with veteran Semyon Varlamov. Not only that, he’s provided a glimpse of why he could be an elite goaltender in the NHL for years to come.

This kind of impact from their youth has come before for the Isles, but not the way these three individuals have done it all at the same time. There was Mathew Barzal is 2017-18 when he was running roughshod over the league which ended in him as the Calder Trophy winner. There was also Josh Ho-Sang’s rise at the end of the 2016-17 season. Before that you have to go all the way back to the early 2000s when the franchise saw the fruits of labor come with Rick DiPietro and Trent Hunter.

So as you can tell, seeing three and possibly more youngsters — if Kieffer Bellows can find a role back in the lineup — making an impact all at the same time doesn’t happen often with this organization.

That’s changed this season and the Isles have become a better team for it.

Islanders head coach made it a point that having young guys on the team this year has added an extra ingredient. The team is having fun. Look no further than Wahlstrom, who during Monday night’s win in Philadelphia was caught on camera singing to the song “Here Comes the Boom!” playing over the PA.

We all know Mathew Barzal is a wizard with the puck on his stick, but to have the amount of dekes he has totaled through 33 games is almost uncanny.

Per Sportsnet last night, Barzal has tried a league-leading 179 open-ice moves when the game is played at 5-on-5.

Based on that stat, you wonder why he makes defenders look like traffic cones most of the time.

Islanders showing very clearly they own the best goaltending tandem in the NHL

Unless you’ve missed it the past three years, goaltending has become an incredible strength for the Islanders as its pertained to their success. It was their backbone in 2018-19 — led by Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss — which resulted in a 103-point season and a second round playoff appearance. Last season, this time with Semyon Varlamov and Greiss at the helm, there were some struggles but it was solid enough to get the Isles into the postseason and eventually propelled them all the way to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. And now it’s continued into this year, in a shortened 56-game sprint nonetheless.

Right now, the Isles conceivably have the best goaltending duo in the entire league consisting of Semyon Varlamov and rookie Ilya Sorokin. The proof of that statement was furthered last night after Sorokin’s outstanding performance in the team’s 2-1 come from behind win in Philadelphia. The victory made it eight straight wins for the the 25-year-old freshman sensation.

“He [Ilya] was our best player,” teammate J.G. Pageau said in the postgame. “I think that’s what gave us the boost. He was able to give us only one goal to come back from in the third, and then I think we really came back in the third as a team.”

The tandem of Varlamov and Sorokin also have the numbers to back up why their the top billing. The twosome have combined for 21 wins (Varly 13, Sorokin 8), which is the most for any duo in the league. Just to show the disparity of that stat: Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, has tallied the most wins by any goaltender with 20. His backup, Curtis McElhinney, only has three. More so, they have driven the Isles to be fourth-least in goals allowed (73), the best save percentage in the league at .921%, the second-best GAA allowing an impressive 2.12 and have five shutouts combined.

What those numbers proves is power of balance the Isles have now with Varlamov and Sorokin can’t be underestimated.

Beyond as a duo, individually each goalie is thriving. Varlamov is in the midst of one of the best seasons as a pro and has been playing at a Vezina-worthy level. Varly is our number one, no question,” head coach Barry Trotz said earlier this seaaon. “To me when you’ve got a guy like Varly who has been in the league as long as him, people tend to say you’ve got Ilya here, to me you need to have about 100 NHL games. It has to be a bigger sample size before you can say you have a goalie controversy.”

The 32-year-old hasn’t been in that award  conversation since he was nominated since 2013-14, when he won 41 games and backstopped the Colorado Avalanche to a Central Division title. He should be in those talks again as his game this year has been fantastic and he’s taken his tremendous showing from in the postseason bubble and taken it to another level through this point of the regular season.

Then there’s his counterpart Sorokin, who is truly living up to all the hype that came with him being dubbed the “best goaltender not playing in North America” before he signed back in the summer. How his game has taken shape after a few shaky starts to begin the season shows just how damn good of a goalie he is. Sorokin is sporting an astounding 1.97% GAA after his 36-save performance against Philly, and he’s allowed three or less goals in   his last six starts. If not for Washington’s Vitek Vanecek and Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, the case could be made that Sorokin would be leading the Calder Trophy race right now. That could also be said for the other Islanders’ rookie, Oliver Wahlstrom.

The Isles aren’t far removed from when Lehner (who became a Vezina finalist) and Greiss helped win the William H. Jennings Trophy. That duo didn’t get the love it truly deserved as possibly the NHL’s best one-two punch in net. Varlamov and Sorokin have a chance to repeat that feat as such and possibly eclipse those two as the season continues.

As News12’s Rob Del Muro pointed out to me last night, with the Islanders still winning and their two goaltenders rolling, the team is set up with the perfect scenario.

He’s right in the evaluation. And it’s that way because the Isles are showing their goaltending duo is head and shoulders above the rest of the league.

New York Islanders: Ilya Sorokin’s first win was exactly how it needed to be

There were a lot of ways to imagine how Islanders stud rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin would secure his first win. Some probably thought it would have come in his first NHL game last month against the Rangers, only for it to become a nightmare after the 25-year-old was given 20 minutes notice he was starting as a result of Semyon Varlamov taking a shot up high in warmups. Others maybe had it penciled in either of his next two starts in New Jersey and Philadelphia. He was unsuccessful in those attempts as well.

But then last night occurred. And Sorokin finally got his first victory in the National (shoutout Kevin Weekes), a 3-0 decision over the Buffalo Sabres. It was also the first shutout of his NHL career and first win in an Isles uniform.

“He was outstanding,” Barry Trotz said following the win. “The athleticism. He made some huge saves.

Sorokin turned away all 20 Sabres shots and made some dynamite stops throughout the night, including his pair of third period robberies of Viktor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart.

Not only was it the kind of performance everyone had been hoping to see from the newcomer with all the hype that’s been around him since his arrival, but it was the exact type of game Sorokin needed to win. He’d played well enough to win in his previous two outings, but last night’s triumph he worked every second for. Especially in the first and third period, Sorokin stood tall and showed off his incredible flexibility.

“I think it will [be a weight off his shoulders],” said Trotz.

Oh it was as Sorokin pointed out himself in the postgame.

“I feel good. It’s good for me that I got my first win,” he told the media.

Now with his first win under his belt, Sorokin’s confidence should be boosted. The fact the Isles gave him the support he needed at both ends of the ice too — last night was the first time Sorokin was given a lead this season — could give him reassurance he is not going to have to stand on his head every time he gets the call. But his individual showing last night was a statement.

Sorokin said after the win that the video review would be what he remembers most about the whole night, which is funny. Funny because what those who watched it will remember is that his win came in the fashion it was supposed to be.

Where he was locked in from the moment the puck dropped.

There might not be an Islander more on fire right now than J.G. Pageau. As I wrote about yesterday, his recent string of performances have been a nice jolt for the Isles during what is now an eight-game point streak.

So what’s been behind his success? Pageau’s answer might be better than his play: “Being a pain in the ass.”

Outstanding response. Just another example of why Islanders fans love him on this squad.

The Islanders continue to keep making history it seems.

One night after allowing zero shots in a period for the first time in franchise history, they recorded their fourth shutout of this season.

It was their fourth goose egg in the first 15 games of the year, marking the first time the team has ever accomplished done that in its 49 years of existence.

 

New York Islanders: Predictions for the 2021 season

 Anthony Beauvillier , New York Islanders

The New York Islanders season finally begins tonight after a 3-month layoff since their last game. I just want to say what a great job the NHL has done handling Coronavirus. Not a single league, other than maybe the UFC, has handled COVID-19 better than the NHL.

Back to the Islanders. This 2021 Islanders team is basically the same team as the 2020 team, but it feels different. With additions of Ilya Sorokin and other 3rd liners. The development of Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows. This team, on paper, looks better than the 2020 team, even without Devon Toews. Hockey is finally back, and with a new season comes new predictions.

Top New York Islanders predictions for the 2021 season:

Mat Barzal Bounces Back

It’s weird when a pro-athlete scores 60 points in 68 games, and it’s a down year. But this just shows how talented Mat Barzal really is. My biggest critique of Barzal at one point was the fact that he never shot the puck. Barzal would always pass it to someone who was covered instead of taking an open shot. Barzal only took 170 shots last year, he needs to take around 220 in a full season. But then the playoffs came, and he finally started shooting the puck. And when a dangerous player gets the puck on the net, good things happen. With a good backcheck and some more effort on defense, it looks like Barzal could become a top center in this league.

Anthony Beauvillier Leads the Team in Goals

This is somewhat of a bold prediction due to the goal scoring talent at the center position. Brock Nelson, JG Pageau, and Mat Barzal are normally the ones who lead the team in scoring. But, there’s something undeniable in the way that Beauvillier plays. He’s a baby flame who’s just getting ready to scorch the whole house. With linemates like Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson, there’s a big possibility that this can happen.

Adam Pelech gets in the Norris Trophy Race.

Adam Pelech has been the Islanders’ best-kept secret for the longest time. Pelech is probably the most underrated defenseman in the entire league. I would go as far as to say that Pelech is the most important player on the team. The Islanders slumped so terribly when Pelech got hurt the Isles went 10-13-7 and let up around 3 goals a game. But, when Pelech’s healthy, they went 25-10-3 and let up only around 2.5 goals a game. If the Norris trophy actually focused on defense, Pelech would’ve won it by now.

Ilya Sorokin Wins the Calder

The rookie of the year goes to the 25-year-old Ilya Sorokin. There’s actually zero doubt in my mind about this. The only thing that may be holding him back is the fact that Varlamov is the starter. Sorokin was the best goalie outside of the NHL. Now that he’s here, I don’t know if anyone can stop him.

Ilya Sorokin already making great impression on Islanders and their fans

Ilya Sorokin has yet to start a game in goal for the Islanders. That should come soon, most likely within the next week. But he’s already made a great first impression on his teammates, his coaches and the Isles faithful.

Sorokin, the team’s Russian goalie prodigy, finally met the media yesterday. It marked the first time the 25-year-old was made available by the Isles since they signed him back during the summer. He had spent time with the club as they made their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in the playoff bubbles. For the last two weeks, he’s been a full participant at Islanders training camp.

“It’s very friendly guys, all my teammates,” Sorokin said during a zoom call with reporters  with the help of an English translator.

Sorokin has been hyped up as the Islanders’ future in net for a long time now. In his homeland, he became hockey royalty and earned the reputation as the “best goaltender not playing in North America”. The Isles drafted him in 2014 but were patient in waiting for when he would finally make the jump to the NHL, which to him was a “dream”. It was also the dreams of Islanders fans who had only heard and seen highlights of his brilliance but craved to see the real thing in person.

Now they are going to get their chance.

But Sorokin knows he wants to earn the respect and admiration of the fans, even with all the fanfare already thrown his way.

“Yes, my friends send me pictures and messages from Islanders fans [who] are happy,” his translator said. “He feels like he’s now indebted to his fans and has to work hard for it to deserve this excitement.”

If that didn’t speak volumes to the blue and orange diehards, his words about his experience of living on Long Island thus far did.
“I like the ocean. It’s very peaceful. I was in Manhattan — I don’t like. A lot of people, a lot of stress. I like peaceful.”

Looking at social media, the fans loved that statement. And in the words of Arthur Staple, the Isles beat writer for The Athletic, Sorokin spoke as if he was a true Long Islander.

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz has already anointed Sorokin the number two behind starter Semyon Varlamov and he plans to ease him in because he has to deserve his time in the NHL. That plan might be the best way for him to adjust but too may have an effect on Sorokin possibly having a shot at the Calder Trophy.

Sorokin is one of the dark horses to win the award while his fellow countrymen and now rival netminder Igor Shesterkin (Rangers) and number one pick Alexis Lafreniere (also Rangers) are the favorites.

While that’s something to take stock of during the season, Trotz loves what he’s seen from his newest import.

“A great personality,” the Isles head coach noted. “He’s a guy that’s got a smile on his face. He’s a guy that works at his craft, tries to get better at his craft and looks for the next thing. You can see it. He works at any task he’s given. He’s been a pleasure to have around and a pleasure to watch him grow with his teammates.”

Sorokin saying all the right things has endeared himself to many already. Now his highly-anticipated debut comes next.

If he gives the same impression he’s been able to give thus far, the Islanders might be looking at their next big star.

Kieffer Bellows working his way on to the opening night roster says a lot about how far he’s come in a short while. It was just a few months ago his stock in the organization had taken a hit when he got dinged for violating the league’s enhancing substances rules.

Now he’s drawn praise from Trotz and could be slotted next to J.G. Pageau tomorrow night on the third line.

Talk about a turnaround.

Bode Wilde earning a spot on the varsity even just as a part of the taxi squad is a testament to his development. A scout told me when the Isles drafted him a few years back they got a steal and that he had a very high ceiling.

I mean it’s not everyday you draw comparisons to John Carlson, a Norris-caliber defenseman. But that’s exactly what the feeling around him is by the coaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin Calder odds snub is ridiculous

New York Islanders, Ilya Sorokin

Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was just another example of the Islanders being completely overlooked again by those who say they pay the most attention to the sport (will get more to that later).

If you’re an Islander fan, your reaction is probably what now?

Well that ‘what now’ is Ilya Sorokin not even being mentioned as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate in 2021.

Yesterday Betonline.ag released some of its odds for the upcoming season in regards to individual NHL awards. One of them included the Calder.

There was only one problem: Sorokin’s name was nowhere to be seen.

The Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere was there. So was Sorokin’s long-time friend and Russian counterpart, Igor Shesterkin. Even New Jersey’s Ty Smith was featured on the list; his odds are at 50/1.

No disrespect to any of those players, but it’s ridiculous Sorokin is not there especially the amount of hype he’s generated before and since he arrived.

The lack of continued awareness — and even further to that, respect — the Islanders receive from around the league has been well documented. It came out yesterday too that neither Adam Pelech or Ryan Pulock had odds to potentially win the Norris, AND The Hockey News slated the Isles at 17th in their 2020-21 power rankings. That despite them making the postseason two years in a row and coming off a Conference Finals appearance.

This snubbing though might take the cake.

Sorokin is and was the best goaltender not playing in North America the last five years. His accomplishments in Russia were legendary. Or might some have forgotten he’s joining a situation where he could easily be a top-ten goalie this year with how the Isles are structured defensively.

Wait, there’s more.

He’s also in an organization with a “goalie guru” Mitch Korn and a fantastic coach — Piero Greco — who helped turn Robin Lehner into a top-end netminder and re-established Thomas Greiss as a quality goalie. In fact, Sorokin has been working with both since he arrived to North America back in August.

Pete Jensen of NHL.com placed Sorokin ranked fourth in his fantasy rankings for rookies this season.

Have you gotten the point yet? No? Ok.

Sorokin is only 25. Pretty much the ripe age for a goalie to show he’s one of the future stars in the sport.

Now it can be argued that he not being the number one — that title belongs to Semyon Varlamov — and probably starting as a backup could provide an argument not to have him in the Calder conversation. But as we’ve seen under Barry Trotz’s reign, he’s willing to go with the hot hand in net. And that means if Sorokin is rolling and Varlamov isn’t, he’d be given top billing.

Sorokin is going to get his chance to shine and prove these “experts” they are wrong, and that he should have been not only in the top five but should have top-three odds.

Obviously some don’t see it that way and it goes back to him not being on yesterday’s list.

It’s wrong. And there are many who will agree, not just ones who bleed orange and blue either.

That’s just how it is when it comes to this organization. Always having to prove the doubters wrong.

We could be sitting here a few months from now with Sorokin being the leader in the clubhouse as the top rookie in the NHL (wouldn’t that be something?). Maybe then the odds will change.

Until then, Sorokin being snubbed will continue to remain ridiculous and only add more fuel to the fire for he, the Isles, and their fans.

 

 

 

 

New York Islanders: What to Expect from Ilya Sorokin

New York Islanders, Ilya Sorokin

New New York Islanders‘ goalie Ilya Sorokin is expected to be the next great NHL goalie. After years of domination in the KHL, Sorokin is ready to come overseas. Sorokin signed a one year deal and then a one-year extension back in May of this year. Sorokin learned under Semyon Varlamov, Thomas Greiss, and Mitch Korn during the Isles long playoff run.

Head coach Barry Trotz has stated that Sorokin’s development and dedication have been exceptional. What should Islanders expect from the best goalie outside of the NHL?

Save Percentage

I’m basing this prediction off of other current NHL goalies and rookie goalies. With the Islanders’ amazing defensive talent and best defensive scheme in Hockey, I predict that Sorokin will have a .912 save percentage.

Varlamov had a .921 percentage last year, so it’s not a crazy prediction. This percentage would place Sorokin within the top 15 best goalies in the league. I imagine that Sorokin doesn’t play close to 40 games next year. There’s no way Trotz just throws Sorokin to the wolves. It’s a great percentage for a rookie goalie.

Goal Against Average

This is the most important goalie stat in all of Hockey, and there’s no debate. It’s basically how many goals do you give up a night. The best goalies only give up around 2.10 goals a night, but Sorokin killed those numbers in the KHL.

In 40 games played, Sorokin recorded a 1.50 GAA. And during the playoffs, he only had a .64 GAA. Sorokin gave up one goal during the playoffs, absolutely insane. I predict that Sorokin will have a 2.34 GAA. That’s a good number, and it’s doable for the best goalie outside the NHL. Again this stat was influenced by how good the Islanders defense is. Especially with almost all of them returning, Sorokin has some help in front of him.