In a previous article, we discussed the possible arrival timeline of goalie Ilya Sorokin to the Islanders organization.
Sorokin is widely regarded in hockey circles as the best netminder in the world who currently doesn’t play in the NHL.
If Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has anything to say about that, Sorokin will be wearing an Islanders sweater by next fall. Thomas Greiss has been a fan favorite with Isles fans and his heroics have been the stuff of a local legend. However, there may be indications that it’s time for Greiss to be thinking about the future of his NHL career outside of the Islanders organization.
Thomas Greiss was originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the third round of the 2004 NHL Draft and after a continual play in Germany and Sweden eventually made his way to North America. Greiss has had stops in San Jose, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh before being brought in by the Islanders in 2015 to be a backup goalie to Jaroslav Halak and signed a two-year contract with the Isles.
Greiss went on to play in the 2015-16 season and in 41 games posted a 23-11-4 record with 1,107 saves, a GAA of 2.36 and a very respectable .925 save percentage that season.
Greiss is most remembered for starting all 11 Stanley Cup playoff games including beating the Florida Panthers.
In early 2017, Greiss received a three-year contract extension worth $10 million to keep him with the Islanders. During the 2018-2019 season, Greiss earned the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the least amount of goals for a season which to date has been one of his greatest player achievements.
As Greiss solidified his position as the starting goalie for the Islanders, the plot thickened as veteran Russian goalie Semyon Varlamov was signed by the Islanders in July 2019 to a four-year contract. As a result of this goaltending split, Thomas Greiss has posted to date during the 2019-20 season in 31 games played a record of 16-9-4 with 838 saves, a 2.74 GAA and a .913 save percentage. If the current season resumed today it would be prudent to assume that Greiss would have more playing time to complete out the regular season and a shot at the playoffs where he could post more numbers for the Islanders.
Ilya Sorokin’s contract with CSKA Moscow ends on April 30, 2020, and he is free to move over to become a member of the Islanders effective immediately upon completion of his current Russian contract. Sorokin was originally drafted by the Islanders and they have kept a watch over his career progress.
With the addition of fellow Russian Varlamov to the Islanders roster, GM Lou Lamoriello no doubt has a long term plan to develop Sorokin into the future starting goalie for the Islanders and use Varlamov has a mentor and positive role model during Sorokin’s transition not only into the NHL but life in North America.
Where does this leave Thomas Greiss?
His contract extension is over at the end of the season and Greiss will be an unrestricted free agent, which means he can sign a contract with any NHL team interested in him.
Thomas Greiss has left a legacy with the Islanders and will be remembered by fans for years to come with his performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs and receiving the William M. Jennings Trophy as well. However, the reality that hockey is a business and the Islanders are moving more towards a “Russian Connection” in terms of protecting the pipes.
If the current season doesn’t resume, it is highly likely that Islanders fans will have seen the last of Thomas Greiss in an Isles sweater.
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