By Shannon Valerio, Hockey VIPs Magazine
June 17, 2014
As draft day approaches, scouts are doing some last-minute scouring for hidden gems. In our yearly quest to bring to you information on not-so-well-known prospects, we have found a potential jewel in top Russian ranked goalie Ilya Sorokin.
Listed at No. 5 in the Central Scouting final rankings of European goalies, Sorokin has something few other goalies in the draft have: Professional experience.
In just his second year in the Kontinental Hockey League, he faced an average of nearly 30 shots per game for a 91.1 save percentage and 2.09 goals-against average. Not only are these numbers much lower than many of his North American counterparts but he has been playing in a league with men — many of whom have years of professional — even National Hockey League – experience.
Outgoing and articulate, Sorokin expressed to us his excitement about draft day. His playing experience has certainly matured him and, as we found in tracking him down for an interview, he already carries himself like a true professional (but with lots of personality). This isn’t surprising when you consider that he has been developed in old-school Soviet fashion.
Upon turning 12, Sorokin left his native Mezhdurechensk to train in the system of Metallurg Novokuznetsk. There he studied, worked and lived in a traditional Ruasian sports boarding school until he turned 18. He remains in Metallurg’s system.
Once the norm for developing Soviet athletes, these schools are known for their strict discipline and regimented programs. Perhaps that’s why he took up tennis and badminton: Great healthy hobbies for a young goalie to further develop his hand-eye coordination.
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is if chosen will he come to North America and play in the NHL? Unlike many other Russian players, he did not choose to get a few of years of exposure across the pond before reaching draft eligibility. This could potentially scare away NHL suitors, despite his experience and outstanding numbers.
However, his obligation and loyalty to Metallurg, the team that has trained him since he was 12 years of age, certainly has to be considered. Not only does this explain his decision to stay in Russia to develop but it also demonstrates a trait many teams should be looking for in a young prospect: Loyalty.
Ilya Sorokin European Goalie - Novokuznetsk, RUSSIA
FINAL RANK: 5 MIDTERM RANK: 4
POSITION: Goalie CATCHES: Left
HEIGHT: 6' 0" WEIGHT: 158
BORN: August 4, 1995
BORN IN: Russia
DRAFTED: 2014: NYI (3rd Round / 78th Overall) New York Islanders