Islanders junior prospects 2009-10 update

By Sean Kass

The New York Islanders have seven prospects playing in juniors — three in the WHL, one in the QMJHL, two in the OHL, and one in USHL. The junior prospects include two centers, three defensemen, and one goalie. 2009 first round draft choice Calvin de Haan headlines the group followed closely by 2008 second round choice Travis Hamonic. Both are slated to play in the Subway Super Series and hope to represent Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. Defenseman Jyri Niemi has attractive size and skills, but will need to improve his level of play in order to move up the Islanders depth chart. Centers Casey Cizikas and Anders Lee are intriguing prospects with considerable upside. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon and goalie Kevin Poulin round out the group.

“HFlink” class=”HFlinkstyle” href=”/teams/whl”>WHL

Travis Hamonic, D -– Moose Jaw Warriors
Acquired: 2nd round, 53rd overall, 2008
August 16, 1990, 6’2, 215 lbs

Hamonic has continued to improve and has been stellar for the Warriors in the early part of the season. Through 21 games he has posted seven goals, 20 assists, and a +4 rating — a big improvment over his -31 last year. He currently leads the WHL in scoring among defensemen by six points and has been selected to represent the WHL against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series match in Kelowna. In short, he is playing some of the best hockey of his career and making a strong case for inclusion on Canada’s WJC squad.

Jyri Niemi, D -– Saskatoon Blades
Acquired:  3rd round, 72nd overall, 2008
June 15, 1990, 6’2, 202 lbs

Niemi has played reasonably well after a lackluster performance last season. He has four goals, nine assists and 33 penalty minutes through 21 games, with two of the goals coming on the power play. Due to his powerful slapshot, Niemi stands to see more offensive opportunities as the season progresses. The Finn is a previous winner of the hardest shot competition at the CHL Top Prospects Game, but claims his shot has become harder since then. Niemi needs to take advantage of those opportunities to increase his offensive output. His plus/minus is a bit of a concern. The rest of his team is very plus, and he is only +1.    
 
Jared Spurgeon, D -– Spokane Chiefs
Acquired:  6th round, 156 overall, 2008
November 29, 1989, 5’9, 185 lbs

Spurgeon’s plans to return to the Spokane Chiefs for his overage season have been postponed by a shoulder injury. After undergoing off-season shoulder surgery, he has yet to play in a game this season. The undersized and overaged defenseman posted consecutive 40-point seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and was named Spokane’s Defenseman of the Year both times. His play earned him a place as one of the team’s alternate captains for 2009-10. Spurgeon is close to returning and he will bolster the team’s power play.

QMJHL

Kevin Poulin, G -– Victoriaville Tigres
Acquired:  5th round, 126th overall, 2008
April 12, 1990, 6’2, 202 lbs

Poulin, in his fourth season with the Victoriaville Tigres, is on pace for his best statistical season with a 2.41 goals against average, a .922 save percentage, and one shutout in 16 games played. His strong play in late October nearly made him the CHL Goaltender of the Week, but he finished as a runner up for the distinction. Poulin has exceeded expectations to this point. His play is a major reason why Victoriaville currently sits in second place in the Central Division. Backup Antonio Mastropietro has played 10 games.

OHL

Calvin de Haan, D -– Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 1st round, 12th Overall, 2009
May 9, 1991, 6’0, 184 lbs

After attending Islanders training camp, de Haan returned to the Oshawa Generals and is off to a solid start with two goals, eight assists, and a +3 rating through 14 games. de Haan has been selected to represent the OHL against Team Russia at the Subway Super Series in Barrie. Like Hamonic, he has a good chance to join Team Canada for the World Junior Championships. Perhaps most important, de Haan has succeeded in adding some much needed muscle. Compared to the middle of last season, de Haan has increased his weight from 170 to 184 pounds. He is still undersized by NHL standards, but the improvement is significant.
    
Casey Cizikas, C -– Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Acquired –  4th round, 92nd Overall, 2009
February 27, 1991, 5’11, 184 lbs

Despite having to deal with the lingering legal ramifications from an unfortunate incident, Cizikas has managed to not let this affect his production in 2009-10. Cizikas has been impressive in the early going with nine goals and 12 assists in his first 19 games. The statistics are improved from the previous season in which he posted 36 points in 55 games. Cizikas is well on his way to his best OHL season to date.

USHL

Anders Lee, C -– Green Bay Gamblers
Acquired:  6th round, 152nd overall, 2009
July 3, 1990, 6’2, 216 lbs

Lee has played well in his first season in the USHL, coming out of the high school ranks. Through 12 games, he leads the Gamblers in scoring with seven goals and five assists. He is tied for 15th in the league in scoring.