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Isles Top Prospect Sorokin Is Staying In Russia

Isles Top Prospect Sorokin Is Staying In Russia

The New York Islanders received some discouraging news on Monday morning. According to their team website, CSKA Moscow of the KHL has signed goaltender Ilya Sorokin to a three-year contract extension. The 21-year-old Russian is highly regarded as one of the best goaltending prospects outside of North America, and there was some speculation that he would make the jump this season. Clearly that is not the case.

While some contracts do have an out-clause to leave for the NHL, this move could be a display of unwillingness to play in the minor leagues before coming to play for the Islanders organization. With Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss still under contract at the NHL level, Sorokin would have to begin with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.

Alongside Linus Soderstrom, Sorokin is heralded as the possible future between the pipes for the Islanders. He has posted incredible numbers in the KHL over the last two seasons. In his rookie season, he had an astounding 10 shutouts in only 28 appearances – resulting in a .953 save percentage. He saw a bit more action this past season, and his numbers dipped to a .929 in 39 games. Scoring is at a premium in the KHL, so it is known for having some outlandish goaltending numbers, but these numbers were even quite good when compared to his peers.

He plays an aggressive style, setting up well outside the crease – and utilizing a lot of backwards flow to make his lateral movements.

There are some concerns about whether his style of game will transfer over to North American, which could be the cause of his reluctance to start in the minor leagues. He plays an aggressive style, setting up well outside the crease – and utilizing a lot of backwards flow to make his lateral movements. This can sometimes be necessary to cover the back door on the larger ice surface, and he has made some highlight-reel saves as a result. He will need to make a major adjustment when (or if) he comes to North America. Starting in the NHL and earning an NHL-sized paycheque as soon as he comes over would be an ideal scenario for him, because that money is guaranteed even if he struggles to adapt.

Will the Islanders be willing to do that? Only time will tell. For now, he will continue to earn the most that he can by playing in the KHL.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario as the voice of the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade. He is currently an instructor for Pro4 Sports, and is the goaltending consultant for the BCHL's Surrey Eagles.

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