Ilya Sorokin was signed as a future goaltender with the New York Islanders on Tuesday. New York stands in the qualifiers as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Joining the Islanders
Sorokin agreed to the terms of a one year, entry-level contract and a one-year contract extension for the 2020-21 season for $1 million in salary and a $1 million bonus. The Russian goalkeeper is permitted to join the team’s training camps during phase 3 of the Return-to-Play Plan but is not eligible to play during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers or Playoffs. Signing for this season is a tactic for Sorokin to be able to receive more profitable contracts sooner. Sorokin, 24, was a third-round pick by New York in the 2014 NHL Draft. Following the 2020-21 season, Sorokin can become a restricted free agent with New York maintaining his rights.
“It is part of the plan to get him [from Russia to North America],” The Islanders general manager, Lou Lamoriello, said. “We also have the ice time that our goaltending coaches can work with him, get a better understanding of his talents and he can get a better understanding of what’s expected.”
Prior to being signed
Prior to being signed with Islanders, Sorokin played with CSKA, Moscow of the KHL for their past five seasons. During his last season with CSKA, he won the Gagarin Cup and was named MVP of the KHL playoffs. He ended the season with the league with a 1.50 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.
According to Lamoriello, the Islanders had been looking to sign Sorokin for quite some time. Signing Sorokin for the Islanders was originally discussed in 2018 but was unable to due to the player’s contract with the KHL. Once the contract expired the discussion to bring the player to the U.S. resumed, but was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Then it was just simply trying to see exactly what was going to transpire and what the future was with reference to the scheduling,” Lamoriello said. “Fortunately, everything worked out.”
After the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Collective Bargaining Agreement was established, teams were able to sign players starting at 12 p.m. ET on Monday until 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The Islanders initiated the deal with Sorokin only eight hours after the NHL’s agreement went into effect on Monday.
What the Future Holds
Sorokin already has a good relationship with fellow Islander goalie, Seymon Varlamov.
“Me and Ilya have a great relationship,” Varlamov said. “I met him a long time ago and had a chance to spend some time playing for the national team. It’s great for him to sign a deal and it’s great for the organization in the long term… I’m happy for him.”
Meanwhile, Sorokin is permitted to travel with the team on July 26 to Toronto, where the Eastern Conference Qualifiers will begin Aug. 1. Islander team players have presumably been broken up into two groups during their training camp, in order to limit player interaction. The Islanders will be playing the No. 10 seed, the Florida Panthers for the Stanley Cup Qualifying round.