Despite having first-round picks Kieffer Bellows, Anthony Beauvillier
and Joshua Ho-Sang
at this week’s New York Islanders Mini Camp, it may be Ilya Sorokin
who garners the most attention.
Sorokin, the KHL’s goaltender of the year and Islanders’ 2014 third-round pick, made his first appearance on Long Island Tuesday, attending his first Islanders camp. Normally, third-round picks don't generate a ton of fanfare, but this is a milestone in the courtship of one of the top goalie prospects.
“Everything is good,” Sorokin said (through a translator) regarding his first impressions. “Good organization, everybody greeted me and met me well and I like it very much.”
Sorokin was sensational in the KHL this season, going 17-7-4 with 10 shutouts, sporting the league’s best goals-against average in the regular season (1.06) and playoffs (1.32) backstopping CSKA Moscow to Game 7 of the KHL finals. That type of play – especially from a 20-year-old – has fans excited and management interested in bringing him stateside.
“That was just one year,” Sorokin said. “I have to prove a lot of things and I need consistency. I can have one year of perfect play, but I need to prove it the next season that you are on the same level. So we’ll see.”
Visa issues kept Sorokin from attending last year’s Mini Camp and the Russian goalie wants to one day play in the NHL, according to his agent, Paul Theofanous. He follows the league back home and his favorite goalie is Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky is from his hometown, Mezhdurechensk, and the two played together, winning bronze at the most recent IIHF World Championships. Sorokin has questions and Bobrovsky has answers; relaying what life is like in the NHL for a Russian goalie.
“I’ve spoke with him a little,” Sorokin said. “Here everything is on the highest level, everything is done for hockey players and to play hockey and you don’t have to think about anything else except playing.”
This week will serve as an introduction of sorts between Sorokin and the Islanders, albeit with a common goal. Sorokin wants to get acquainted with the Islanders coaches, facilities and staff. The Islanders want him to do all of that, too, and feel comfortable here, as the transition can be tough for Russian players. It’s a packed week for the prospects, but Sorokin is also going to try and explore New York as well.
“I’ve been to Times Square already and it looked incredible, like the movies,” Sorokin said. “I also want to meet the guys, meet the staff from the system, so that’s basically my main purpose.”
He’s under contract with CKSA for the next two seasons, meaning there’s still some time before he’d potentially suit up for the Islanders and his agent said they just want to see how this week goes.
Both sides will take things from there, but for this week – at least – he’s here.