Happy Easter (and a belated Happy Passover). The Easter Bunny may have dropped off the very welcome gift of actual Islanders news this afternoon.
A series of tweets from Russia-based Sport-Express hockey writer Igor Eronko indicates that goalie Ilya Sorokin will sign a contract with the Islanders on April 30th, at the conclusion of his deal with CSKA of the KHL.
Long awaited in New York G Ilya Sorokin refused to sign an extension with CSKA and is set to sign with the #Isles right after his current contract expires (April 30)— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 12, 2020
Calling Sorokin’s arrival “long awaited” is a bit of an understatement on Eronko’s part. Selected in the 15th round of the 1983 NHL Draft (or in 2014), the 24-year-old Sorokin has been cutting a swath through the KHL for the last five seasons, picking up several armloads of individual awards, setting a bunch of records and winning a Gagarin Cup championship in 2018-19.
But his arrival on these shores has been an ongoing mystery. He signed an extension with CSKA a couple of years ago, where his wallet and trophy case could stay pretty fat. Meanwhile, it feels like the Islanders have been greasing the skids for his landing for years, signing his friend Semyon Varlamov to a four year deal and generally dancing around the subject of signing him. In order to maximize the money and minimize (if not, completely eliminate) his time in the minors, Lou Lamoriello would have to get creative in how he structures Sorokin’s contract, provided he actually wanted to sign one.
In other words, it was complicated in all of the usual Islanders ways. IsleSeat Podcast host Mike Carver has affectionately dubbed Sorokin, “The White Whale,” which gives you an indication of the goalie’s standing among Islanders fans.
There was a rumor going around this past trade deadline that Sorokin would be dealt to Chicago for... something. That turned out to be a false alarm, and Sorokin stayed Islanders property. He led his team to a sweep of Torpedo (include back-to-back shutouts in Games 1 and 2) in the first round of the KHL playoffs before the league cancelled the rest of its season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a recent Q&A on the Islanders website, Lamoriello answered a question about Sorokin’s signing by saying, “Yes, we have every indication that he will be here for next season.” For once, it seems like we’re close to this actually happening. Keep your lucky rabbit’s feet out.
PS: We may not be the only folks excited to see this dude come Stateside:
Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin are close friends. Shesterkin once jokingly told me he's looking for a rivalry with Ilya to learn who's the king of NY. They regularly play NHL20 for Isles and Rangers respectively. A week ago Igor told me he's OK to be a driver of Ilya so he'd come https://t.co/8WLjdmn4b1— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 12, 2020