Influx of new prospects making impact on New York Islanders’ AHL affiliate

By Christian Litscher
Ryan Pulock - New York Islanders

Photo: Defenseman Ryan Pulock has made an immediate impact on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, managing 11 goals and five assists in his first 25 games. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 

The New York Islanders have an abundance of prospects playing at the professional level. The influx of junior prospects from last season has led to an improved Sound Tiger team.

Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock, Jesse Graham, and Adam Pelech have all made their debuts this season revamping the team’s defense corps. Many of the forwards such as Mike Halmo, John Persson, and Johan Sundstrom have come out strong bringing along with them NHL experience from last season. Kevin Czuczman and Scott Mayfield have also brought NHL experience after spending time on Long Island last year.

The Sound Tigers as a team came out firing to start the season, winning 10 of their first 14 games. They have cooled off since then, but there are many reasons for optimism in Bridgeport. The prospects have made an impact and the team is much improved from last season in all areas of the game. Their offense has been potent and the powerplay in particular has been a huge success so far for the team. The Sound Tigers are clicking at a 25 percent conversion rate, which is the best in the AHL.

AHL

Mike Halmo, LW, 23

Halmo has returned to the Sound Tigers after playing 20 games for the New York Islanders last season. He has contributed offensively with 12 points, but it is other areas of the game where Halmo makes his presence felt. He is a sparkplug who gets in on the forecheck and brings energy to the team. Despite his size, Halmo will stick up for his teammates and is not afraid to drop the gloves. He also has had timely scoring this year with three game winning goals. Halmo should be able to find himself in a fourth line role at the NHL level in the near future after proving he can play last season.

John Persson, LW, 22

Persson had a good start to the season playing a bottom six role. The Swede brought size to the lineup and played well along the boards and in the cycle game. He also has chipped in offensively with five points in 19 games. Persson’s play has cooled off as of late and he has struggled to get in the lineup having been out of the lineup since December 6th. He still has potential to be an NHL player in a bottom six role, but the development of his skating will need to improve over the next few years.

Johan Sundstrom, C, 22

Sundstrom has taken step back offensively from last season with only five points in 26 games this season. However, his all around play has been very solid. Sundstrom has taken a defensive role centering Colton Gillies and Justin Courtnall on the third line and has contributed on the penalty kill. The 2011 second rounder has added weight since last season and is now listed at 208 pounds. Sundstrom will be knocking on the door as the potential fourth line center of the Islanders in the next few years.

Alan Quine, C, 21

In his second full AHL season, Quine has become an integral part of the Sound Tigers attack. He has broken out offensively with 22 points in 27 games after scoring 27 points all of last season. Quine has been consistent and enjoyed a 10 game point streak from October 25th to November 16th where he scored 13 points. He has been the playmaker on a line with Kael Mouillierat and Colin McDonald although has recently centered the recently demoted Cory Conacher.

Jason Clark, C, 22

Clark has missed the entire season so far with injuries. The 2010 third rounder has struggled to find a spot in the lineup professional level due to dealing with various injuries over the past few years. When he is healthy, he brings size and toughness to the lineup.  

Griffin Reinhart, D, 20

Reinhart has made a smooth transition to the professional level. He started the season with the Islanders appearing in three games before being sent down to Bridgeport. With the Sound Tigers, he has displayed good instincts at both ends of the rink. Offensively he put up a respectable two goals and six assists in 16 games. Reinhart was also used in a shutdown role against the opponent’s top players. In early December, he earned a call-up back to New York when injuries hit the Islanders blue line. In five games, Reinhart registered his first NHL point.

Reinhart’s biggest asset is his hockey sense. He is a steady defenseman who reads the play well. He recognizes the situation as to when to be aggressive and when to back off. Reinhart moves the puck well with a strong outlet pass. His game in the offensive zone is still developing. Reinhart is a safe bet to become top four defenseman and is closing in on being ready for full time NHL duty.

Ryan Pulock, D, 20

Pulock is enjoying an extremely successful professional campaign. He has been paired with former Islanders defenseman Aaron Ness and together they have formed the Sound Tigers top pairing. Pulock leads Sound Tiger defenseman in scoring with 11 goals and five assists in 25 games. The 2013 first rounder has been deadly on the powerplay where he has scored nine of his goals.

Pulock received a callup in early December, however did not play and was shortly sent back to Bridgeport. The Manitoba native is not far from being NHL ready, but he needs to continue to improve his defensive game to get there.

Scott Mayfield, D, 22

Mayfield has continued his development this year with Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The 2011 second rounder formed half of the team’s shutdown pairing along with Reinhart early in the season, but has recently been paired with Adam Pelech. Mayfield is an intimidating player who plays a simple yet physical game. He stands up for his teammates which has been shown in his three fights this season. Mayfield has continued to refine his defensive game which will be his calling card at the NHL level. On the season he has three assists and 52 penalty minutes through 27 games.

Adam Pelech, D, 20

Pelech is one of four Sound Tiger defenseman making their professional debuts this season. He has appeared in 20 games and has three assists. Although he has not put up the points he did in junior so far, Pelech has played a reliable all-around game. He was eased into the lineup appearing in just three October games, but has been a staple in the lineup since often paired with Mayfield. He has the potential to be a strong depth defenseman at the NHL level.

Jesse Graham, D, 20

Like Pelech, Graham has been eased into the professional game for the Sound Tigers, despite having success to end last season. He has appeared in 20 games putting up a respectable eight points from the back-end. Graham started the season with five points in his first six games but has been in and out of the lineup since as he adjusts to the professional game. Part of this can be explained by the depth on defense the Sound Tigers have.  When he is in the lineup, Graham brings a speed dimension to the team from the back-end.

Kevin Czuczman, D, 23

Czuczman has appeared in 26 games for the Sound Tigers recording a goal and four assists. He has been paired mostly with Graham on the team’s third pairing. He is not a flashy player, but the Lake Superior State product plays a solid game in all three zones. Czuczman has the potential to be an NHL defenseman with more development time, but is a victim of the depth on defense the Islanders have right now.

Sebastian Collberg, RW, 20

Collberg has been a disappointment this season with only a goal and an assist in 10 games with the Sound Tigers. Injuries have forced the 2012 second rounder in and out of the lineup and have led to a brief demotion to the ECHL. With Stockton, Collberg has contributed four goals and three assists in six games. Collberg has clear talent, but he needs to improve on his shift to shift consistency.

ECHL

Kent Simpson, G, 22

Simpson was acquired in October from the Chicago Blackhawks as a part of the Nick Leddy deal. Simpson has played in the ECHL this season appearing in eight games for the Stockton Thunder and three games for the Colorado Eagles. He has not found much success with either team. The former second round pick has 3.71 goals against average and a .898 save percentage with the Thunder and a 3.71 goals against average and .904 save percentage with the Eagles.

Alexandre Mallet, C, 22

Mallet was acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks along with a third round pick in the 2016 draft in exchange for Andrey Pedan on November 16th. With Stockton, Mallet has two goals and five assists in 11 games. Prior to the trade, Mallet had 11 points in 14 games playing for the Kalamazoo Wings.

Lukas Sutter, C, 21

Sutter has made his professional debut for the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. He has done a little bit of everything for the team. He has played a key role defensively and on the penalty kill. He has also brought toughness to the lineup and has racked up 117 penalty minutes. Offensively he has two goals and six assists in 27 games played.

Loic Leduc, D, 20

Leduc has suited up for 20 games for the Stockton Thunder. He scored his first professional points scoring a goal and assisting on another in an early season game vs the Bakersfield Condors. Leduc has chipped in two more goals for a total of three on the season, though his bread and butter is his defensive game with his size and strength.

Non-Minor League Prospect Update

Stephon Williams had has a bounce back season after a disappointing sophomore campaign. He has won back the starting job for Minnesota State and is currently sporting an 11-2 record. His stats have been impressive with a .914 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average.

Another goaltender in Ilya Sorokin has taken a step back in the KHL, but has a chance to be the starter for Russia at the upcoming world junior championships. Sorokin was fantastic for Russia in an exhibition game against Canada making 51 saves in a 2-1 win.

Josh Ho-Sang has taken some time to adjust to a new team after being traded from Windsor to Niagara. After a slow start statistically, Ho-Sang had three multi-point games in the past two weeks. The 2014 first rounder has 16 points in 15 games for the Ice Dogs and 35 points in 26 games on the season.

New York Islanders Prospect of the Month

Michael Dal Colle - New York Islanders Prospect of the MonthMichael Dal Colle has been phenomenal for the Oshawa Generals since the start of November. In 13 games since November first, Dal Colle has 15 goals and 16 assists. Of those 15 goals, six were on the powerplay and six were game-winners.

The former fifth overall pick is currently riding a 15 game point streak and is sitting at two points per game with 46 points in 23 games and should be able to hit the 50 goal and 100 point milestones this season. Dal Colle was a final cut from the Canadian World Junior team after making the preliminary roster.