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“A” For Effort? Sorokin’s Subtle Attempt at Reeling in Kuzmenko

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Andrey Kuzmenko

Ilya Sorokin wears many hats. He’s a premier NHL netminder for the New York Islanders. He’s a supporter of the Josh Bailey theme song. But can we now add part-time recruiter to his resume?

On Friday, Sorokin’s agent, Dan Milstein, who represents countless Russian hockey players such as Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and others, made an Instagram post asking fans to comment which team top European free agent Andrey Kuzmenko should sign with.

As of Sunday, there were 200 comments on the post. One of the comments read “Islanders” and the person that left it was none other than Ilya Sorokin.

 

But Sorokin’s subtle effort to get Kuzmenko to the island did not pay dividends

Per Sportsnet’s Elliote Friedman, Kuzmenko had met with the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, Nashville Predators, and Carolina Hurricanes. It appears that the front runner to sign the top forward was the Vancouver Canucks, and on Monday, Kuzmenko made it official.

Ilya Sorokin and Andrey Kuzmenko were teammates in the KHL, on CSKA Moscova (Moscow) from 2014 through the 2017-18 season. They both were members of Team Russia on three occasions for the Euro Hockey Tour in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

After the 2017-18 campaign with CSKA Moscova, Kuzmenko was traded from CSKA to SKA St. Petersberg, where he joined forces with netminder Igor Shesterkin, who left to join the New York Rangers the following year. He’s been with SKA since then, which means that he got to play with former New York Islanders forward and fan favorite Leo Komarov.

Kuzmenko did score a goal off of Sorokin in 2018:

The 26-year-old forward is coming off his best season in the KHL with his 20-goal, 33-assist season. His 20 goals ranked second on SKA, with his assists and points reigning supreme. He was second in the KHL in goals, assists, and points during the regular season.

Kuzmenko and SKA fell to his former club CSKA in the Conference Finals, after a seven-game bout. In 16 playoff games, Kuzmenko scored seven goals with seven assists.

Milstein stated that Kuzmenko’s decision will come rather soon. According to th CBA, Kuzmenko’s contract will be one year, with a maximum of $925,000.

The Islanders latest Russian signee, Anatolii Golyshev, did not pan out. After signing with the club back in March of 2021, the forward was back in Russia by December. He had not been given a chance at the NHL level, which he believed was the whole point of his contract.

But back to Kuzmenko.

It does not seem that the New York Islanders were too interested in Kuzmenko. The Islanders need proven forwards in order to rebound in 2022-23 and, as mentioned, their latest Russian gameplan did not pan out. Sorokin made a valiant effort with his Instagram comment, but it was just not enough.

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