Ryan Strome remains top prospect for New York Islanders

By Christian Litscher

Ryan Strome - New York Islanders

Photo: Ryan Strome celebrates his first NHL goal on January 6th, 2014. Strome has spent the majority of the 2013-14 season in the AHL, but should see more time in the NHL down the stretch. (courtesy of Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Islanders have amassed a very deep and talented prospect pool. Their patient approach over the last few years has created a solid foundation and should pay dividends down the road.

The Islanders have recently done well in the first few rounds of the NHL Draft, getting players like Calvin de Haan, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhart, Ville Pokka, and Ryan Pulock. They have also managed to get some intriguing players in the later rounds such as Anders Lee and Kevin Poulin. Overall, the organization has a deep pool with many players capable of making an NHL impact.

1. (1) Ryan Strome, C, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 5th overall, 2011

Strome remains the top prospect for the New York Islanders. In his first year of professional hockey, he has been what the Islander's where hoping for when they made him made the fifth selection of the 2011 draft. He has led the Sound Tigers in scoring and has been among the AHL scoring leaders all year without much support offensively. His strong play lead to a midseason call up to Long Island where he put up four points playing mostly third line minutes.

Strome has the skills to develop into a formidable number two center behind John Tavares. He was recently recalled to the NHL and should see some quality opportunities with Tavares likely finished for the season after suffering a partially torn MCL in the 2014 Olympics.

2. (2) Griffin Reinhart, D, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 4th overall, 2012

The Islander's top junior prospect takes the second spot in the rankings. After making the team out of training camp, Reinhart was on the verge of a full time roster spot. The Islander's brass felt it was better for Reinhart's development to play big minutes in the WHL as opposed to being the seventh defenseman in New York. He has had a strong season with the Edmonton Oil Kings and carried that play into the 2014 WJC where he put up a goal and an assist after being suspended for the first three games.

Reinhart projects to be a top four defenseman with the potential to be a franchise defenseman. He is a player with great size and skating in the mold of Marc Staal or Brayden Coburn.

3. (4) Brock Nelson, C, 7.5B
Drafted 1st round, 30th overall, 2010

Nelson has had a great rookie campaign, establishing himself as a core forward in Long Island. Although he did not get much ice time to start the year, he has played all sorts of roles this year from on the top line with Tavares and Kyle Okposo to centering the third line.

The 22-year-old has shown all the skills needed to make him a top six forward. He has a great release on his shot that makes him dangerous from all areas of the ice. He has good size and plays an effective cycle game down low. Nelson needs to work on his game-to-game consistency, but has gotten better with more NHL time. It remains to be seen whether his future is at center or wing.

4. (18) Calvin de Haan, D, 7.0B
Drafted 1st round, 12th overall, 2009

De Haan appears to be in the process of a complete career turnaround. After dealing with various injuries, de Haan has finally been healthy enough to show he can bring to the table. He spent the first part of the season in Bridgeport before getting called up to the Islander's when injuries hit. Once called up, he never looked back. Currently third in ice time per game amongst defenseman, de Haan seems to get better every game. He may even see a larger role if the Islander's decide to part with Andrew MacDonald at the trade deadline. De Haan's biggest strength is his hockey sense and the ability to move the puck up the ice. He has been solid in the defensive zone and looks to be a core piece moving forward.

5. (6) Ville Pokka, D, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 34th overall, 2012

Pokka is another high-end defensive prospect in the Islanders' system. He has had a great season from playing against men in the SM-liiga to starring on the gold medal winning Finnish WJC team. In his third season in Karpat, Pokka has emerged as a key offensive weapon from the back-end, posting 24 points in 47 games. Poised beyond his years, Pokka will likely make the jump overseas next season.

The 19-year-old got to show off his talent on the world stage at the 2014 WJC, contributing four points in seven games. He played in all situations for Finland making his presence felt offensively and defensively. He could be a great option behind Travis Hamonic on the Islander's defense in the near future.

6. (3) Ryan Pulock, D, 7.5C
Drafted 1st round, 15th overall, 2013

Due to the amount of talent in the Islander's prospect pool, Pulock finds himself sixth in the rankings. Taken 15th overall in what was considered one of the better drafts in the past decade, Pulock has had a good season for the Brandon Wheat Kings, with 49 points through 55 games.

He still needs some seasoning before he is ready for the NHL, but he will bring a needed offensive element to the Islander's defense. He projects as a player who can quarterback the powerplay and provide a hard shot from the point.

7. (7) Kevin Poulin, G, 7.0C
Drafted 5th round, 126th overall, 2008

Poulin has split time with veteran Evgeni Nabokov this season. He has been the starter for stretches when Nabakov went down with injury, with some great games, but also some poor ones. Overall, Poulin has appeared in 28 games this season posting an 11-16-1 record. He has shown the ability to make the highlight reel save, but has a tendency to let in soft goals as well. Poulin has established himself at least as a backup at the NHL level and, with proper coaching and experience, could develop into a starting goalie.

8. (5) Matt Donovan, D, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round, 96th overall, 2008

Donovan has been arguably the Islander's most disappointing prospect after making the team out of training camp as a powerplay specialist. He has struggled to put up points and it has resulted in him bouncing between the NHL and AHL. Donovan's play this year has been too good for the AHL but not quite good enough to earn a regular NHL spot. He needs to improve his play away from the puck to earn a consistent spot in the lineup. He at times struggles with the speed of the NHL game and does not look comfortable. He needs to make quicker decisions too, which should come with more experience.

9. (9) Anders Lee, C, 7.0C
Drafted 6th round, 152nd overall, 2009

Lee has had a great professional season debut. After three years at Notre Dame, Lee has carried his offensive abilities to Bridgeport putting up 35 points so far this season. When Strome got called up, Lee was the go to guy offensively for the Sound Tigers.

He looks to have a solid NHL future ahead of him as he plays a good enough two-way game to contribute on a third line, but may enough offensive potential to also play in a scoring role. He was recently recalled to the NHL and could see numerous opportunities.

10. (8) Adam Pelech, D, 7.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 65th overall, 2012

Pelech has been the anchor from the back-end for an offensively potent Erie Otters team. In what should be his last season in the OHL, Pelech has added an offensive dimension to his game, producing at almost a point-per-game rate with 46 points in 51 games.

Pelech represented Canada at the 2014 WJC in a third-pairing role paired mostly with Winnipeg prospect Josh Morrissey. He played well in what was a disappointing tournament for Canada. The third-rounder plays a safe game and is reliable. He will be a great player to have on the left side behind Reinhart and de Haan on the depth chart moving forward. Pelech will most likely play for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers next season.

11. (10) Scott Mayfield, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 34th overall, 2011

Mayfield has handled the transition to professional hockey well after spending the past few seasons at the University of Denver. Standing at 6'4 and over 200 pounds, Mayfield is tough to play against and can be an intimidating presence along the blue line. He is always willing to stand up for teammates and will be a force as he grows into his large frame.

The 21-year-old projects as a shutdown defenseman with the potential to complement one of the Islanders more offensively leaning defensemen. Mayfield is still very raw and among the youngest players on the Sound Tigers. He will need some years of development to put everything together.

12. (11) Anders Nilsson, G, 7.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 62nd overall, 2009

Nilsson has had a disappointing year. He earned the role as the starter for Bridgeport after serving as the backup for the past two seasons behind Poulin. Through 28 games he has a poor .899 save percentage and 11-14-2 record, though he cannot take all the blame as the Sound Tigers have at times struggled this season.

Nilsson has even gotten some NHL games when Nabokov went down with an injury. He played well but did not get much support in front of him. Nilsson still is talented but he looks more like a potential backup than potential starter at this point in time.

13. (15) Johan Sundstrom, C, 6.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 50th overall, 2011

Sundstrom's strong two way play is what will give him a good chance to be an NHL forward. He is a calm, sound forward who should be able to slot into a third-line role with some more time. Sundstrom has great size and good on ice vision. He is not a huge point producer but is a steady player. He needs to fill out his large 6'3 frame, currently weighing only 197 pounds, to take the next step in his development.

14. (13) Taylor Cammarata, LW, 7.5D
Drafted 3rd round, 76th overall, 2013

Cammarata is developing well with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. After leading the entire USHL in scoring last season, Cammarata has 17 points so far this year, which is good considering the amount of talent on the team.

Cammarata has the hands and scoring instincts to be a skilled forward in the NHL. His size may hold him back from reaching his ultimate potential, but players like Nathan Gerbe (CAR) and Brendan Gallagher (MTL) have shown that it is possible to have success despite a small frame.

15. (NR) Jesse Graham, D, 6.5C
Drafted 6th round, 155th overall, 2012

Graham enters the rankings for the first time since being drafted in the sixth round in 2012. After being traded to Saginaw, Graham's offensive game has really blossomed. He has 27 points in 35 games since the trade and 44 points through 59 games on the season. Graham has NHL speed and skating and moves the puck well. He still however needs to work on his decision making.

16. (NR) Kyle Burroughs, D, 6.5C
Drafted 7th round, 196th overall, 2013

A seventh round pick in last June's draft, Burroughs is amidst a breakout season. He has led the Regina Pats from the back-end all season and has already surpassed his point totals from last season. An offensively gifted defenseman, Burroughs stands at only 5'11, but plays much bigger than his size and is not afraid to battle in the hard areas of the ice. He is a long-term project at this point, but could develop into a late-round gem for the Islanders.

17. (NR) Mike Halmo, LW, 6.0C
Signed as a free agent in March 10th, 2012

Halmo enters the top 20 for the first time. He was a late bloomer at the OHL level and has followed a similar path at the AHL level. Currently in his second full season of professional hockey, Halmo is third on the team in points, more than doubling his output from last season. He will not put up huge points at the NHL level, but his scrappy style is what gives him NHL potential. Halmo loves to hit and get under the skins of the opposition. He can likely play a fourth line role for the Islanders in the near future.

18. (16) John Persson, LW, 6.0C
Drafted 5th round, 125th overall, 2011

Persson drops two spots in the rankings, but is still having a good year. He has improved from last season and has some good goal scoring abilities. Persson is a power forward that drives the goal hard and is very good around the net. Persson plays well along the boards and is good defensively. He has some NHL potential in the bottom six but needs some more development time like all young players.

19. (19) Andrey Pedan, D, 7.0D
Drafted 3rd round, 63rd overall, 2011

Pedan had a great start to the season with five points in nine games. Unfortunately, he has missed most of the season with injuries. The former third-round pick recently returned to action however, and has zero points through his last three games.

Pedan needs to finish the 2013-14 season strong as another wave of young defensemen will be going pro next year and he does not want to get lost in the shuffle. He has a lot of raw talent and good NHL size that gives him solid NHL upside.

20. (NR) Viktor Crus Rydberg, C, 7.0D
Drafted 5th round, 136th overall, 2013

Crus Rydberg's offense has not translated at the OHL level as well as many were expecting. The skilled playmaker has nine goals, 22 assists, and a minus-19 rating through 54 games. His totals should however improve as he is on a youth Plymouth Whalers team which should only get better. Projected as a playmaker, he needs to bulk up to take full advantage of his skillset.

Related Articles