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Sorokin, Other Former CSKA Moscow Players Could Face Issues Returning to U.S.

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Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders

We know little about what is going on inside the country of Russia. As you may have heard, they have gone to great, strict lengths, to make sure that their citizens do not know much about outside opinions and that their people follow their laws and regulations. Every Russian male citizen, age 18 to 27, by law, must serve at least one year in the Russian military.

That includes athletes.

The punishment for draft dodging is up to two years of imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 Russian Rubles.

This past Sunday, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ivan Fedotov was accused of evading the draft, was detained and sent to a Russian naval base in the arctic. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said that the Flyers were investigating the reports, but that is all. We do know that Fedotov terminated his contract early with CSKA Moscow in order to leave for the United States.

CSKA Moscow is owned by the company Rosneft. Their CEO, Igor Sechin, is very close to Vladimir Putin, the “President” of Russia.

In an article by The Insider, an independent Russian newspaper that specializes in investigative journalism shared some scary news that could affect Russians already contracted with NHL teams, including New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin.

The source stated that former CSKA hockey players who have decided to move to the NHL may be drafted in the army:

“The Army owns the rights to many young players who are now playing abroad. If they don’t officially resolve the issue with the military enlistment office, then such players as Egor Afanasyev, Artem Grushnikov, Ilya Sorokin, Denis Guryanov, and Dmitry Samorukov could face the same problems that Ivan Fedotov did.”

Ilya Sorokin turns 27 in August.

The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reached out to Dan Milstein, Sorokin’s agent, to ask about his whereabouts. No information was provided.

Per an Instagram post made the morning of July 5, it appears that Ilya Sorokin is in fact in Russia:

 

 

Prior to 2019, when the New York Islanders signed Ilya Sorokin to his first NHL contract, he had spent six years as a member of CSKA Moscow. CSKA translates to “Central Sports Club of the Army and was founded in 1946, becoming the Soviet army team. The team is still a part of Russia’s Defense Ministry.

It’s very difficult to find any information regarding what playing for CSKA means in terms of fulfilling military requirements. There are some sites that say two years equals one year of service while others say that the military draft is completely separate.

I chatted with Nicole Shirman, a contributor to Inside the Rink, who specializes in prospects and is someone more privy to what has been going on over in Russia. She also speaks fluent Russian and has been a helpful person for many in terms of translating Russian articles.

“Sorokin ended things with CSKA on a very different note than Fedotov,” Shirman said. “And he [Sorokin] trains in their sports complex during the off-season and his [offseason] goalie coach is CSKA’s goalie coach, Sergey Naumov.”

If you remember, Sorokin’s initial contract with CSKA Moscow ended in 2016, but he signed a two-year extension with his KHL club. When his contract ended the second time, in 2018, that’s when Sorokin elected to sign with the New York Islanders.

Again, a much different scenario than terminating a contract early.

The New York Islanders have two Russian netminders in Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov. As it seems, Sorokin is in Russia, but Varlamov’s whereabouts are unknown at this time. Varlamov usually spends the summers in Texas, which is where he is believed to be, but nothing substantial to report.

Varlamov’s name has been thrown around in trade chatter, and although it is expected that New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello intends to keep Varlamov, given what’s going on right now in Russia and potentially what could happen with Sorokin, moving Varlamov at this point seems irresponsible.

The summer is just beginning and as of now, there is really not much else that can be provided. As we learn more about the situation, so will you.

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