It was initially reported in December that goaltending prospect Ilya Sorokin was unlikely to join the New York Islanders next season due to the fact that the 23-year-old goaltender still has one more year on his contract with CSKA Moscow and the rumor was that the KHL wasn’t interested in letting him go. However, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required) writes that bringing Sorokin over next season isn’t impossible.
In fact, it’s possible that Sorokin could initiate a buyout of his contract at the end of his KHL season, assuming that Sorokin pays that buyout by himself with no help from the Islanders. Staple writes that two North American sources say that while there is no specific buyout window in the KHL, players can initiate buyouts at the end of the year and with one year left on his deal in the KHL, a buyout would not be prohibitive. Sorokin’s North American agent, Paul Theofanous, was seen at the Islanders’ practice facility this week and presumably met with general manager Lou Lamoriello.
However, the scribe also adds that if Sorokin does come to North America next season, it would be on a one-year entry-level deal and would be waiver-exempt, meaning the Islanders would have to commit to the 23-year-old as a full-time NHL goaltender, which might be a big commitment for Lamoriello, despite his success in the KHL. Of course, former Islander Mikko Koskinen signed a similar one-year deal with Edmonton this past offseason at $2.5MM and one can expect that Sorokin could command quite a bit more.
Despite the team’s tandem of success of Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss, the Islanders expect to shake up their goaltending situation this summer. Lehner will be an unrestricted free agent, while the team could consider moving Greiss, who would have just one year remaining on the three-year, $10MM deal he signed back in 2017. With Lamoriello’s history of having a dominant goaltender on his teams, many felt that the GM would go after a big-name netminder with many talking about New York making a run for Columbus Blue Jackets’ disgruntled netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. However, Lehner’s impressive play this season also gives the team another option in net as well as the 27-year-old has enjoyed a bounce-back season with the Islanders, posting a 2.11 GAA and a .928 save percentage in 25 appearances so far this year, which should only complicate matters when it comes to Sorokin.
Sorokin has been one of the KHL’s best goaltenders for the past four seasons as he has posted a .929 save percentage or better in each of those seasons, which includes a .953 save percentage in the 2015-16 season and a current .942 save percentage this year in 32 appearances so far.