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Ilya Sorokin signs for an Islanders season he can play in

After signing his theoretical ELC, Step 2 was agreeing to terms on an RFA ‘extension’ for next season.

Team Canada out shoots Team Russia 53-20 but loses 2-1 in overtime in a 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship exhibition game
Welcome to our Islanders, Ilya.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

This seemed to be something of a formality after Ilya Sorokin’s agent announced he’d signed an ELC with the Islanders that he can’t really use (he’s ineligible for the upcoming playoffs), but Islanders fans know not to ever count birds in the bush, lest the bush be of the johnus spanofraudus variant that botanists warn us about.

So, officially: the Islanders announced today that Sorokin has agreed to terms on another contract (“extension,” technically) for the 2020-21 season that the NHL hopes will begin in December.

Big news, because one of the top (if not the top) goalies outside the NHL is now, after much hype and waiting, heading over to the Islanders at what will be his age 25 season.

Future news, because he cannot play in the current season.

Roster news, because this pretty much makes this playoff run the finale for Thomas Greiss’ time as an Islander.

Many expected as much when the Islanders committed four years to fellow Russian and Sorokin friend Semyon Varlamov on the free agent marketplace last summer, electing to bring the former Avalanche goalie in rather than re-sign Masterton and Jennings trophies winner Robin Lehner.

As Dan noted with Sorokin’s ELC news the other day, the Islanders’ 2014 3rd-round pick (78th overall) is the most anticipated newcomer for the Isles in quite some time. He has been a star in the KHL for longer than any of our essays on “different league, small sample.” His eight KHL seasons include six with CSKA Moscow, where he won championships and took names.

He’s also been a medalist and gold medalist in various tournaments for Russia and, at the Olympic level, for Athletes Who Represent Russia But Shall Not Be Called Russia Due To Various Doping Schemes Involving the Federation They Are Required To Represent.

There are limitations to what Sorokin can do in the meantime — there’s a deadly and highly transmittable pandemic going on, and what-not — but the Islanders hope to have him in camp right away to show him his new office:

“It is part of the plan to get him [from Russia to North America],” general manager Lou Lamoriello said Tuesday. “Because we have the practice time we do have, and we certainly have the number of players we have here and 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.”

A little practice won’t Ilya.