While there has been positive more than a month ago, many New York Islanders fans have been excited about the team potentially signing top goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin out of the KHL this offseason. However, with the worldwide issues of COVID-19 and little information since, NHL.com released an interview with general manager Lou Lamoriello in which the GM reiterates that the team expects Sorokin to sign a contract for next season.
The 24-year-old goaltender has dominated the KHL the last few years and is considered the best goaltender outside the NHL. He finished the 2019-20 season with a 1.50 GAA and a .935 save percentage in 40 appearances for CSKA Moscow. In the currently suspended playoffs, Sorokin has won all four of his matchups, allowing just three goals so far, with a 0.73 GAA and a .966 save percentage. Sorokin’s contract expires on April 30th, although with the coronavirus suspending play, that date could be pushed back if the KHL intends to continue their playoffs at some point.
- Another issue that Lamoriello settled is the future contract of young star Mathew Barzal. The 22-year-old will be hitting restricted free agency this summer and the Islanders have made it clear that they intend to lock him up to a long-term deal, there are plenty of concerns that teams may attempt to raid the Islanders’ team by attempting to sign the young centerman to an offer sheet. However, Lamoriello made it clear in that interview, that the team intends to lock him up before free agency arrives and will match any offer sheet. “It is our intention to not allow it to get to that point, but should that happen, the answer is yes,” said Lamoriello. While Barzal’s numbers haven’t been close to what it was in his rookie campaign when he tallied 82 points due to head coach Barry Trotz’s defensive-first system, Barzal was looking to take a step forward this year, already having 19 goals and 60 points in 68 games.
- The GM also noted that defenseman Johnny Boychuk and fourth-liner Casey Cizikas are both expected to be ready whenever the season resumes. Both were tough losses that affected the teams’ most recent run. Boychuk went down on Mar. 3 when he took a skate to the eye and had 90 stitches. Cizikas has been out since Feb. 11 with a leg injury. Lamoriello also added that defenseman Adam Pelech is expected to be ready for training camp. The defenseman was signaled as lost for the season after sustaining an Achilles injury on Jan. 3.
- Lamoriello also adds that the Belmont Park Arena, the Islanders’ future home, is still on target to be completed for the 2021-22 season. The team is currently playing in two different stadiums, including the Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum. The team broke ground back in September of 2019.