The longer this Islanders’ postseason run goes, the better it is for Ilya Sorokin.
The Russian goalie prospect, expected to play a huge role for the Islanders likely as soon as next season, is ineligible to participate in the postseason games after finally signing with the team. But he’s been practicing with the team’s extras since July 28.
And as far as the Islanders are concerned, the more time Sorokin gets working with director of goaltending Mitch Korn, goalie coach Piero Greco and acclimating to the North American game after five seasons in the KHL, the better.
"He’s awesome," said Michael Dal Colle, who has played three postseason games for the Islanders but mostly worked with the secondary group that includes Sorokin. "He’s a really hard-working guy. When he got here, obviously he didn’t really know anyone. He’s worked a lot off-ice, on his English. He’s adjusted really well and he works hard in practice."
Sorokin, 25, was a third-round pick in 2014 and signed a one-year, $925,000 deal with the Islanders on July 13 to cover the rest of this season, plus a one-year, $2 million extension for next season.
Except, there’s no telling when the NHL or its top minor league, the AHL, will be able to begin the 2020-21 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This postseason has been played in quarantined bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton but that is not likely an option over a full season.
That is why it’s so invaluable for Sorokin to put in as much practice time before heading into an uncertain offseason.
Fellow Russian Semyon Varlamov, who has started 17 of the 19 postseason games, is completing the first season of a four-year, $20 million deal. Backup Thomas Greiss is in the final season of a three-year, $10 million deal and not expected to be re-signed in order to open a roster spot for Sorokin.