Sorokin leads small but growing group of NHL-drafted goaltenders competing in Russia

By Alessandro Seren Rosso
Ilya Sorokin - Team Russia

Photo: CSKA Moscow goaltender and New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin turned in a strong 2015-16 regular season, and has duplicated that effort in the KHL playoffs with a 1.17 goals-against and .949 save percentage (courtesy of Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

 

 

In recent years, Russia has become a better producer of quality goaltenders. Proof of that is the number of NHL-drafted netminders competing in the KHL and minor leagues, which is in a modest growth trend. Many young, Russian goalies are experiencing an upward career progression, and almost all the goaltenders drafted in the last few years have an excellent chance of becoming solid NHL players, with the exception of Sergei Kostenko, who was a seventh round pick of the Washington Capitals in 2012.

Even if the KHL lacks a large crop of NHL-drafted goalies at this time, the number should continue to grow given the strides that Russian hockey has made in this area in recent years. And this trend should continue for the coming NHL Drafts as there are other interesting netminders in the pipeline, as will be seen at the upcoming U18 World Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota where Team Russia will feature another pair of interesting goalies in Mikhail Berdin and Vladislav Sukhachyov.

Below is a ranking of the NHL-drafted goaltenders that comepted in Russia in the 2015-16 season.

1. Ilya Sorokin (CSKA Moscow)
Drafted by the New York Islanders 78th overall in 2014
6’2”, 175 lbs.

 

Ilya Sorokin has shown significant improvement this season, outplaying veterans like Viktor Fasth and Russian Stanislav Galimov. He has posted some incredible numbers (1.06 GAA, .953 Save %) for a goalie of his age, impressive not only for their overall worth, but also for the consistency required to achieve those numbers. Sorokin is a very quick goalie with an effective butterfly style who can be very hard to beat and has no obvious holes in his game. Sorokin’s contract in the KHL will run out on April 30th, 2018.

2. Ilya Samsonov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
Drafted by the Washington Capitals 22nd overall in 2015
6’3”, 200 lbs.

 

After being named Best Goaltender at the 2015 U18 World Championship, Ilya Samsonov was drafted by the Capitals in the first round of last year’s NHL Draft. The Magnitogorsk, Russia native has come a long way since the draft as he managed to play a significant number of regular season and playoff games in his first KHL season. Samsonov also was a member of Russia’s World Junior squad that won a silver medal back in January, with Samsonov playing in two games during the tournament. A goaltender gifted with great size, Samsonov is a good competitor and has very quick legs and hands. His contract in the KHL will run out on April 30th, 2018.

3. Ivan Nalimov (Admiral Vladivostok)
Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks 179th overall in 2014
6’4”, 215 lbs.

 

Ivan Nalimov had a breakout season in 2015-16 with Admiral Vladivostok, becoming the starting goalie for his team and posting good numbers (2.06 GAA, .908 Save %). He was also called up to Team Russia internationally on multiple occasions, although he has yet to get into a game for the national team. Nalimov has great size which helps him in the slot battles, but he has a lot to work on despite the progress he has made the past couple of seasons. He was rumored to be headed to North America a couple of years ago, but opted to move to Vladivostok instead. In the past few days, Nalimov inked a new contract with Admiral Vladivostok that will keep him with the team up to April 30th, 2018.

4. Igor Shestyorkin (SKA St. Petersburg)
Drafted by the New York Rangers 118th overall in 2014
6’1”, 185 lbs.

 

Igor Shestyorkin had a good season in the VHL in the 2015-16 campaign, but he still needs to be checked against a tougher level of play than the Russian second tier league before any judgements can be made on his progress. He appeared in a few KHL games but did not show significant improvement over his appearances last season. Last summer, he was rumored to be traded back to his former team Spartak Moscow, which would have been better for him as he could have seen more ice time in the KHL, but SKA preferred not to move the young goalie. At this point of his career, Shestyorkin should probably try to seek a solution that will allow for more KHL action, but he is under contract with SKA for another season.

5. Ivan Fedotov (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk)
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 188th overall in 2015
6’6, 190 lbs.

 

A very tall goalie, Ivan Fedotov had a good season in the MHL with Reaktor Nizhnekamsk. He is still at the junior level, though, and has yet to be tested against pros other than playing a mere handful of minutes in a single game. Fedotov has some good elements in his game like size, coverage of the net, reflexes, and agility, but he needs to improve his positioning, technique, and rebound control. He also needs to gain some much-needed pro experience, and may move on to play in the VHL next season with Neftekhimik’s affiliate in that league. He is under contract in the KHL through the 2017-18 season.

Top young undrafted goalies in the KHL (in alphabetical order):

Vasili Demchenko, Traktor Chelyabinsk
Andrei Kareyev, Metallurg Novokuznetsk
Denis Kostin, Avangard Omsk
Anton Krasotkin, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Vladislav Podyapolsky, Metallurg Novokuznetsk
Igor Ustinsky, Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg

Follow Alessandro Seren Rosso on Twitter via @AlexSerenRosso