New York Islanders have shown recent preference for NCAA talent

By Christian Litscher

Taylor Cammarata - New York Islanders

Photo: Forward Taylor Cammarata has been strong in his freshman season with the University of Minnesota, posting nine goals and 13 assists through 35 games. (courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI)

New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has shown a tendency to use later round picks on players bound for the NCAA, giving them plenty of time to develop and work on any holes they have in their game. The Islanders have had some success with NCAA players recently drafting star Kyle Okposo as well as prospects such as Matt Donovan, Brock Nelson, or Anders Lee.

The Islanders have stayed clear of European players for the most, though they may have found a gem in defenseman Ville Pokka.

NCAA

Eamon McAdam, G, Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten)
Drafted 3rd round, 70th overall, 2013

The Islanders second selection of the 2013 NHL Draft has had a tough year at Penn State. McAdam is winless in 10 appearances for the Nittany Lions. The highly recruited goaltender has served as the backup behind 21 year old Matt Skoff. Penn State has made the adjustment to a full time Division-1 program this year playing in a conference with long time powerhouses such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State. The team only has five upperclassmen, all of whom do not have very much NCAA experience. It has been a learning year for the program. Because of this, McAdam has had a tough time showing off what made him the sixth goaltender selected in the entire 2013 draft. McAdam positions himself well in the crease and is good at making saves in traffic. He has gotten better as the season progressed and made a season high 42 saves against Minnesota on January 12th.

Stephon Williams, G, Minnesota State Mavericks (WCHA)
Drafted 4th round, 106th overall, 2013

Williams has had a disappointing season for Minnesota State after winning WCHA rookie of the year last season. Freshman Cole Huggins took over the starting job, pushing Williams to a backup role. Williams has appeared in 12 games posting a 5-6 record. His .862 save percentage was way down from last year's .924 mark. Williams has never gotten his game on track and this can be considered a write-off season for the Alaska native. Look for him to rebound next season and prove he can still be one of the top goaltenders in the country.

Taylor Cammarata, LW, Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten)
Drafted 3rd round, 76th overall, 2013

Cammarata has had a great year playing on a top ranked Golden Gophers team. He came out of the gate strong with 11 points in his first 11 games. The former USHL star currently has 22 points in 35 games which is good for a deep team that spreads its scoring around. He will be a key player for the Gopher's in their national title hopes after they won the first Big Ten title with a 14-3-3 conference record.

Cammarata has shown tremendous on ice vision and puck skills that make him a consistent threat. His lack of size has not been an issue – at least this far into his hockey career. He should put up big numbers in the next few years as he moves up the lineup and has a larger role on the team. Cammarata will need some time to develop at the NCAA level before turning pro.

Robbie Russo, D, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Hockey East)
Drafted 4th round, 95th round, 2011

Russo had a great start to the season, breaking out offensively with 15 points in 21 games. He was displaying the offensive skills that made him such a highly touted prospect. The fourth round pick from 2011 was successfully quarterbacking the powerplay for the Fighting Irish as well as holding his own defensively. Unfortunately, Russo was excused from Notre Dame halfway through the season due to academic reasons. He should be back in the blue and gold for his senior season.

Doyle Somerby, D, Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
Drafted 5th round, 125th overall, 2012

Somerby has been a regular on the Terriers blueline this season. The freshman has put up four points in 34 games. Standing at 6'5, Somerby has size that cannot be taught. He is a project type of player who will likely take all four years to develop at Boston University. He is still getting used to playing defense after converting from forward a few seasons ago. He has good movement for a player of his size, allowing him to compete with smaller shifty forwards. Somerby has the potential to be a shutdown defender at the next level.

Jake Bischoff, D, Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten)
Drafted 7th round, 185th overall, 2012

Bischoff, like Cammarata, has had a solid freshman campaign for the Golden Gophers. The Minnesota native has played solid defensively as well as contributed some on the scoresheet. He has seven points in 28 games so far this season. Bischoff has been a depth defender on a stacked Minnesota Golden Gophers team often paired with junior Ben Marshall (DET). He has missed some time with injuries, but looks to be good to go for the NCAA tournament.

Bischoff will return to Minnesota for his sophomore season next year and he should only improve as he matures physically. He has plenty of time to grow his game playing at the NCAA level.

Europe

Ville Pokka, D, Karpat (Liiga)
Drafted 2nd round, 34th overall, 2012

In his third pro season, Pokka's offensive game has blossomed taking his game to the next level. He put up 27 points which was good enough to put him seventh amongst all Liiga defenseman. He was an all situations player for a first place Karpat team making his presence felt defensively as well. Pokka's plus-32 mark was tops in the Liiga.

Pokka has good puck skills and makes great decisions with the puck. He is a very steady player that positions himself well and can always be relied on. He was one of Finland's best defenseman in a gold medal run at the World Junior Championships. Pokka is not far off from getting NHL looks, but may need some AHL seasoning to get accustomed to North American sized rinks. He is a potential top four defenseman and is a part of Finland's next wave of talent coming into the league.

Mikko Koskinen, G, Novosibirsk Sibir (KHL)
Drafted 2nd round, 31st overall, 2009

Koskinen had a fantastic year in his first KHL season. After starting the season playing for the Blues of the SM-liiga, Koskinen has been a workhorse playing in 41 games for Novosibirsk Sibir. His .939 save percentage tied for fifth in the entire KHL and his 1.70 goals against average put him sixth.

The big goaltender still has a year left on his contract with Novosibirsk Sibir. If he has another strong year in the KHL, he could battle for a job in Long Island after an unsuccessful first stint in North America.

Sebastian Collberg, RW, Frolunda HC (SHL)
Trade with Montreal Canadiens, March 5th, 2014

Collberg was acquired at the trade deadline along with a second round pick in a deal that sent Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadians. Drafted 33rd overall in 2012, Collberg was viewed as one of the elite offensive players of the 2012 NHL Draft. He has very high offensive upside and is a potential top six forward.

Collberg can be described as a pure goal scorer whose biggest strength is his shot. He has a great release that makes him dangerous from the outside and he picks his corners as well as anyone. Collberg is also willing to go to the dirty areas to score. Although he does not have great numbers in the SHL, he has been a strong player at the WJC for three years now and might be a late bloomer at the professional level as he always excels in his age group.

Kirill Kabanov, RW, Modo Hockey Ornskoldsvik (SHL)
Drafted 3rd round, 65th overall, 2010

Kabanov has had a disappointing season in North America, unable to maintain a consistent spot in Bridgeport's lineup. He even spent some time in the ECHL playing for Stockton when he got sent down after attending a team meeting late.

Kabanov ultimately ended up in the SHL playing in Sweden's top professional league where he has been a tremendous boost offensively for a MODO team that struggles to score. He has 8 points in 12 games which is very good numbers for someone who joined the team midseason. The once highly sought after prospect showed the puck skills and scoring touch that makes him an offensive threat. Kabanov still has a year left on his entry-level contract with New York.

Kirill Petrov, RW, Kazan Ak-Bars (KHL)
Drafted 3rd round, 73rd overall, 2008

Petrov has had another strong year in the KHL playing for Kazan Ak-Bars. He tied a career high with 29 points, which is good for fourth on the team. Petrov's KHL contract expires this season and the Islanders have reportedly offered him a guaranteed roster spot if he comes to North America. Petrov would bring great size and skill that would be welcomed in any lineup. The 2008 third round pick is a smart player that can plug into a variety of roles. Petrov would also fill an organizational need at right wing and could likely step into the lineup right away into a third line role if he chooses to make the jump.

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