Report: Ilya Sorokin likely ineligible to play with Islanders this season

Ilya Sorokin
Ilya Sorokin (REUTERS/David W Cerny)

Things are looking grim for fans that wanted to see Ilya Sorokin in an Islanders uniform when the NHL picks back up later this month. 

TSN’s NHL insider Bob McKenzie reported on Wednesday morning that unsigned draft picks or ones that signed deals during the league’s coronavirus hiatus will not be eligible to play during the 2019-20 season. 

For the Islanders, that means they won’t be able to bring on their top goaltending prospect in Sorokin, who continued playing in Russia since New York drafted him in 2014.

There was a hope that Sorokin could make the jump from CSKA Moscow to North America after the Russian season ended, which is customary under the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

Usual circumstances would have seen the 24-year-old sign an entry-level contract with the Islanders, play out the remainder of the season with them, become a restricted free agent, and sign a bigger deal with the team for 2020-21. 

But the COVID-19 outbreak prompted the NHL to tweak those rules this year, initially stating that draft choices signed by the teams this year will not be eligible to play until 2020-21. 

The NHL Players’ Association appealed the rule last month, which has left the teams and players looking to make additions this summer in limbo. 

Two weeks ago, Sorokin’s agent told amNewYork Metro that they are in a “holding pattern” to help decide their next step. 

If McKenzie’s report is confirmed, Sorokin could return to CSKA Moscow on a short-term deal that would contain an NHL opt-out clause. The Russian season usually begins in September while the NHL might push back the start of the 2020-21 season to December due to the late finish of this year. 

The Islanders are slated to face the Florida Panthers in late July in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, a best-of-five play-in series that saw the NHL expand its postseason field to 24 teams rather than 16. 

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