Ilya Sorokin agent: Islanders star goalie prospect in “holding pattern” with jump from Russia to NHL held up

Ilya Sorokin
Ilya Sorokin. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

You can add Ilya Sorokin and his agent, Daniel Milstein, to the list of folks who are waiting to hear about the Russian goaltender’s chances of joining the New York Islanders this season.

“We’re just waiting on the league,” Milstein told amNewYork Metro on Wednesday morning. “We just have to see what transpires for the 2019-20 season. So we’re really just in a holding pattern.

Sorokin, who signed up with Milstein earlier this month, is one of the top international goalie prospects on the planet having starred for CSKA Moscow of the KHL in recent years after being drafted in the third round by the Islanders in 2014. 

Satisfying previous contracts with the Russian club, Sorokin looked poised to sign an entry-level contract with the Islanders shortly after the KHL season ended this spring. 

Normally, New York wouldn’t have had much of an issue bringing Sorokin over this summer. Under the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Sorokin could have signed a one-year ELC for the remainder of the 2019-20 season, become a restricted free agent, and sign a bigger deal with the Islanders for 2020-21. 

However, the coronavirus pandemic prompted the NHL to change the rule amidst the hiatus that dates back to March 12. Any draft choices signed by the teams this year — as the league ramps back up to complete the 2019-20 campaign — will not be eligible until 2020-21. 

The NHLPA has contested the decision and a verdict is still unknown at this time.

If the decision stands, it could see Sorokin sign a one-year deal with CSKA Moscow, which the Russian team indicated was an idea that had been talked about. According to Eyes on Isles’ Michel Anderson, who spoke with KHL Insider Aivis Kalnins, there could be an NHL opt-out clause in the deal that would allow Sorokin to head to North America once the 2020-21 season begins. 

Milstein’s comments suggest that no real progress was made on those hypothetical negotiations between CSKA Moscow and Sorokin, though, which further cements the notion that the NHL remains the 24-year-old’s top priority. 

So the waiting game continues. 

In 245 career regular-season games in the KHL, Sorokin has been a stalwart, posting a 1.69 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Those numbers have been even better in the playoffs with a .938 save percentage and a 1.41 goals-against average.