Monday’s re-signings of Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Samsonov turned the attention to the other young Russian goalie in the Metropolitan Division, our very own Ilya Sorokin. Despite the complete silence on this front from g.m. Lou Lamoriello’s office, Sorokin had no such qualms when discussing contract negotiations just last week in a Russian interview.
The most important part? He expects a deal to be signed very soon.
I would be remiss not to mention Sorokin’s thoughts about playing the “Russian card” as the Kirill Kaprizov speculation makes its rounds. Simply put, Sorokin made it clear that going back to the KHL will not happen, and he knows that the organization would not fall for such a thing as leverage.
Now, on from what we know to what we don’t know: How exactly will Sorokin’s new contract shape up?
First, it is important to note that neither the Shesterkin nor Samsonov contracts are comparable. Both aforementioned goalies are clearly starters, while Sorokin serves a different role for the Islanders in a tandem with Semyon Varlamov. Sorokin knows this. As Varlamov’s heir apparent, his own pay day will come once he takes sole ownership of the net after Varlamov’s tenure as an Islander is over. Varlamov is still under contract for this season and next.
So, while the young goalie market gives us a rudimentary idea of what Sorokin’s contract could possibly look like, it is not the end-all be-all.
Sorokin will be an UFA in two seasons, likely removing a two-year bridge deal from contention so as not to walk him straight to unrestricted free agency and instead pointing towards two options: a one-year deal or a long-term deal.
A one-year deal would see Sorokin remain an RFA after next season, and leaves room to re-sign him long-term when more cap space frees up. However, Sorokin would still be arbitration eligible. And just because he chose not to file for arbitration this offseason does not guarantee he will not next offseason. In a scenario where Sorokin does file for arbitration and a deal is not reached before hand, he would be walking straight to unrestricted free agency with either a one or two-year deal on the arbitration sum.
The other option is a long-term deal straight off the bat. This would eat up some of Sorokin’s UFA years and finish when he is the assumed starter with an increased cap. This is the route the Rangers went with Shesterkin — same age as Sorokin — in signing him to a four-year contract.
Though the leverage the organization holds over RFAs would be gone, being the franchise goalie and the promise of a new, solid contract should entice Sorokin to re-sign. But, like with any UFA, there is a measure of risk that he ends up testing the market and walking away right after this contract. Depending on the number of UFA years the contract would encompass, such a contract’s AAV — and how the cap would increase relatively — this could prove to be a valuable option for the Islanders. It’s also one that could even be similarly replicated next offseason if a one-year contract is given out now.
What can we expect to happen and when? We can only speculate. But these two contract options would each hold merits for both the Islanders organization and Sorokin.
Follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicolefshirman