New York Islanders own strong depth across all positions

By Christian Litscher
Scott Mayfield - New York Islanders

Photo: Scott Mayfield is one of many quality defensive prospects in the New York Islanders system. Mayfield was a second round draft pick in 2011. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

 

The New York Islanders prospect pool has high-end talent at every position and has the depth to match it. The forward group has some blue chip prospects, a few high potential risk-reward players, and many potential bottom six forwards. The defense group is deep and many are on the cusp of NHL readiness.

Left Wing

Left wing has gone from a position of weakness in the Islanders system to a relative strength with the selection of Michael Dal Colle.

Dal Colle has high potential as an offensive forward. The fifth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft finished with 95 points last season and has picked up where he left off where he left off this year. Dal Colle projects as a top line forward and, on paper, should be a perfect fit on a line with John Tavares. The Islanders have been patient with their prospects recently so there is no telling when Dal Colle will get his shot, but he could be ready as soon as next season if continues to improve on his play away from the puck.

Anders Lee projects as a left wing at the NHL level. He finished last season strong with the Islanders potting nine goals in 22 games. Lee had a strong training camp but will start the season in the AHL playing first line minutes. Due to Islanders forward depth, the Notre Dame product will be the first call up when injuries strike despite a strong finish to last season. Lee has shown that he has top six offensive upside as a power forward and also has the versatility to play anywhere in the top nine forwards.

Taylor Cammarata will return to Minnesota for his sophomore season. He will be looking to build on last season’s 27 points and again compete for a National Championship with a strong Gophers team. Cammarata will play a top six forward role again this season. Cammarata will likely spend all four years in college before turning pro.

John Persson got a look last season appearing in 10 games, scoring his first goal against the Washington Capitals. This season, Persson will return to Bridgeport to continue to work on his skating and round out his overall game. Persson’s calling card as an NHL player will be his cycle game and his ability to work the boards, while having the ability to pot the occasional goal. He has the potential to make it as a bottom six forward after a few more years in the AHL.

Mike Halmo also got a look last season suiting up for 20 games. He scored one goal but made an impression as a grinder who brings energy to the team. Halmo will return to Bridgeport due to the Islander’s forward depth, but looks like a safe bet to eventually earn a roster spot as a role player who can get under the skin of opponents.

Center

The Islanders are extremely deep at center. John Tavares is the franchise player and top prospect Ryan Strome will eventually fall behind him on the depth chart. Coach Jack Capuano also prefers recently graduated Brock Nelson at center. The Islanders have a deep prospect pool to complement the established NHL players.

Strome made the team out of training camp and is starting off the season playing right wing on a line with Brock Nelson and Mikhail Grabvoski. Strome will be able to showcase his offensive talents while having less defensive responsibilities. He has had the most success at center and his future remains there long term, where he will make a dangerous second option behind Tavares.

Victor Crus Rydberg will return to Plymouth for his second OHL season. He should rack up a lot of points this season, especially if he ends up on a line with Sonny Milano (CLB). This is a big year after for Crus Rydberg to earn an NHL contract after a disappointing season last year.

Johan Sundstrom got a taste of NHL action at the end of last season where he registered one assist in eleven games. He was not ready for the NHL, but did show some poise during his callup. The 2011 second round pick will continue to develop physically next year on what should be a stronger Sound Tigers team. Sundstrom has the potential to be a third line center in the NHL.

Alan Quine had 27 points in 61 AHL games as well as eight points in seven ECHL games last season. A strong minor league scorer, Quine does not have the offensive ability to cut it as a top six forward in the NHL and does not really have the skill set to play in the bottom six.

Jason Clark only appeared in 12 games last season for the Sound Tigers, spending more time with Stockton of the ECHL where he had no points in 24 games. He is likely a career minor leaguer.

Kyle Schempp will return to Ferris State for his sophomore season. He will be looked to as an offensive leader for the Bulldogs as the lone NHL draft pick on the Bulldog’s roster. Schempp will need more time in college before he is ready to turn pro.

Lukas Sutter will make his professional debut in Bridgeport this season. He will play a bottom six role and serve as a key penalty killer. He has NHL upside as a fourth line forward, but will need some years of development before he is ready.

Right Wing

Right Wing is the weakest position in the Islanders pool. Garth Snow has addressed the position by adding Sebastian Collberg at the trade deadline last season and spent a first round pick in last Junes draft on Josh Ho-Sang.

The Islanders traded up into the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft to select Josh Ho-Sang with the 28th overall pick. Ho-Sang has electrifying hands and can break a game wide open. He still has some learning to do away from the puck and will likely need a few more seasons before he is ready to seriously compete for an NHL roster spot.

Collberg will make his professional as well as his North American debut this season. He will have a chance to play heavy minutes in a scoring role for the Sound Tigers. He has top six NHL potential.

Kirill Petrov is off to a slow start with four points in the first thirteen games of the season for AK Bars Kazan. Petrov is starting to enter his prime years now at the age of 24. He is signed for two more years in the KHL, but could be a third line player for the Islanders if he ever chose to cross the pond.

Kirill Kabanov is off to a good start in the SHL after not being able to find his game at the AHL level. The once highly touted prospect is producing at almost a point per game for Skellefteå.

Defensemen

Defense is the strength of the Islanders system. They have numerous defenseman that have the potential to be top four defensemen in the NHL. They also have a nice balance of puck-moving defenseman and stay-at-home defenseman.

Griffin Reinhart made the Islanders roster out of training camp and will start the season on the third pairing. How long he stays there will depend on his performance as two regulars in Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan start the season on injured reserve. When they return to action, Reinhart may be a victim of the numbers game and will be sent to play heavy minutes in Bridgeport. However, it will not be long until Reinhart is a staple of the Islanders’ defense corps.

De Haan made the Islander’s roster out of training camp, but will start the season on the IR. When he returns he will look to build on last season and become an important part of the Islander’s revamped defense corps. De Haan looks like a safe bet to become a top four defenseman in the NHL.

Like Reinhart, Ryan Pulock will make his professional debut this season, although with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He impressed the Islander’s brass in training camp and may have pushed Reinhart for a roster spot if not for a lower body injury. Pulock will bring offense from the back-end and will be a fixture on the powerplay. Pulock may receive a callup if injuries strike and has a chance to make the Islanders roster as soon as next season.

Scott Mayfield got a taste of what it takes to be an NHL player appearing in five games at the end of last season. Mayfield plays a tough, no nonsense game and always sticks up for his teammates and will continue to develop at the AHL level this season. Mayfield eventually should settle into a shutdown role with the Islanders.

Adam Pelech will make his professional debut after finishing his OHL career off strong. He will play a depth role for the Sound Tigers this season. Pelech has the potential to be a steady third pairing defenseman in the NHL after a few years of development in the minors.

Andrey Pedan will look to rebound this season after missing a large chunk of last season due to injuries. Many of the defensive prospects are turning pro, so there will be competition for a spot on the Sound Tigers roster.

Like Pelech, Jesse Graham will turn pro this season after a successful OHL career. Graham had some success last season putting up four points for the Sound Tigers after the Saginaw Spirit were eliminated from the OHL playoffs. The sixth rounder plays an up-tempo game that has allowed him to find success in his career so far. Graham has the potential to develop into a third-pairing defenseman who can provide some offense from the back-end.

Kyle Burroughs will return to the Regina Pats for his fourth WHL season as team captain. He will continue to make strides in his offensive game and round out his defensive game this year, before making his professional debut next season.

Kevin Czuczman will start the season playing in the AHL, after seeing some time with the Islanders last year. The undrafted free agent should play a top four role for the Sound Tigers after faring decently well at the NHL level. The Islanders are deep down the left side of the defensive depth chart, so it would take numerous injuries for Czuczman to see NHL time again this season. He does have the talent to eventually become an NHL player.

Robbie Russo will look to get his career back on track after missing the second half of last season due to academic suspension. He is entering his senior season and will need a big year to earn a contract from the Islanders.

Devon Toews is entering his sophomore season at Quinnipiac University and will look to improve on his 17 point season from last year. He will have a larger role on the team and as one of the few draft picks on the team, he will be looked at as a leader.

Like Toews, Doyle Somerby is entering his sophomore season at Boston University. He is still developing and getting used to playing defense after making the transition from forward a few years ago. Somerby has more offensive ability than his point totals indicated and should be able to improve his numbers this year.

Loic Leduc will make his professional debut this season as well. The towering defenseman may start the season in the ECHL due to the depth of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Leduc will likely be a career minor league defenseman.

Like Cammarata, Jake Bischoff will return to Minnesota for his sophomore season after a successful freshman campaign. He will have a larger role on what will be a national championship contender. Bischoff will likely spend all four years at Minnesota developing before turning pro.

Goaltending

The Islanders have three fresh faces in goal with Ilya Sorokin, Linus Soderstrom, and Kent Simpson. They all have high potential and improve the quality of the position after the disappointment of some previous draft picks.

Sorokin is off to a great start as the starting goaltender for a below average Metallurg Novokuznetsk team. Through 13 games, the third rounder has a .920 save percentage to go along with a 2.87 goals against average. Sorokin should make the Russian world junior team this season and could very well be the starting goaltender. When Sorokin’s KHL contract expires in 2017, he should be ready to step into a backup role in the NHL should he choose to come to North America.

Soderstrom will play this season for Djurgården J20 of the SuperElit. The technically sound netminder has great size but is still raw and developing. Soderstrom will likely see some time on the Djurgården SHL team throughout the season. Like Sorokin, Soderstrom will have a chance to represent his country at the upcoming world juniors, possibly in a starting role.

Simpson was acquired from the Blackhawks as part of the trade that brought Nick Leddy to the Islanders. He is a former second rounder from the 2010 draft who has good positioning in net. Simpson struggled a bit last year with the Rockford IceHogs, but will look to rebound this year. He will compete with David Leggio and Kevin Poulin for two spots on the Sound Tigers roster.

Eamon McAdam will enter his sophomore season with Penn State. McAdam struggled his freshman season, although he did not have a good team in front of him. The starting position this year is open and McAdam can earn it through strong play.

Stephon Williams will be looking to rebound to his freshman form after a disastrous sophomore campaign. The 2013 fourth round pick went from an All-WHCA first team to back up in a year span. Williams will need to get his game back on track to eventually earn a contract from the Islanders.

Notes

New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow made an early season splash acquiring two defenseman in Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. Leddy came at the expense of prospect Ville Pokka and Boychuk cost a couple of picks in the 2015 and 2016 drafts. This is a crucial season for the Islanders to make a playoff push, as they do not hold a pick in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.