The Islanders do not have great depth at any position among their CHL prospects. They currently have three wingers, one center, and two defensemen representing them in the three CHL leagues. Five of the six players were selected in the 2011 entry draft. A good amount of their top prospects graduated from the CHL ranks last year including Nino Niederreiter, Calvin de Haan, and Casey Cizikas.
Ryan Strome, C, Niagara IceDogs
Acquired: 1st round (5th overall) in 2011
After impressing in camp the Islanders’ decided not to rush this highly touted prospect. Since returning for a third season with the Niagara IceDogs he has been on a goal-scoring tear. After missing the first seven games because he was still with the Islanders he has potted 15 goals in 22 games setting a pace to easily break his 33 in 65 games last season. Strome was also one of 41 players to attend Hockey Canada’s selection camp for the 2011-12 World Junior Hockey Championships. He has a great shot at making the team and it would be a great learning experience for him.
Strome posses amazing puck-handling skills and is a very crafty player. He proved last year he is a good playmaker and this year, is showing he can bury the puck as well. Whenever the puck is on his stick there is always the potential of a highlight reel goal or assist. Strome projects as a first or second line center and could be ready to play in the NHL as soon as next year.
Andrei Pedan, D, Guelph Storm
Acquired: 3rd round (63rd overall) in 2011
So far this season Pedan has already trumped his two goals in 51 games during the 2011-2012 season with six goals in 24 games this season. Though goal scoring is not the main component of his game it is good to see him chip in offensively.
This hulking Russian defensemen is most known for his shutdown abilities and great size though he could add a few more pounds of muscle. For his size he is a very good skater and uses it to put himself in the right position in the defensive zone. He plays his angles very well and loves to throw his body around. His rare combination of size, speed, and physicality make him an attractive prospect. If he keeps improving he could find himself in a shutdown top four role with Islanders in the next few years.
Mitchell Theoret, LW, Niagara IceDogs
Acquired: 7th round (185th overall) in 2011
Theoret is a teammate of top prospect Ryan Strome. As a shutdown forward he fills a completely different role than his offensive minded teammate. Thus far this season he has not shown much improvement offensively. Through 28 games he has seven goals and five assists.
Theoret is a very tenacious player with great character. As a seventh round draft choice he is a long shot to ever make the Islanders, but his drive and versatility give him a solid chance of becoming a bottom six grinding forward. He has above average size, which is important for a defensive minded forward. The next few years will be very vital to his development.
Johan Persson, LW, Red Deer Rebels
Acquired: 5th round (125th overall) in 2011
This season was a chance for Persson to really prove that his great success last season was not only attributed to being flanked by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM). In this young season he has scored 12 goals and set up 20 others. These statistics are not far off from last season. This was a make or break season for him and he has proved his skeptics wrong in a big way thus far.
Persson is a tall, offensively gifted two-way forward not afraid to go into the high traffic areas. Though putting on a few more pounds of muscle would help, he has a great competitive nature. His mobility is a question but his solid positioning has made up for that so far in his young career. If he continues to improve he has a good chance of earning a spot on the Islanders second or third line.
Brenden Kichton, D, Spokane Chiefs
Acquired: 5th round (127th overall) in 2011
Brendon Kichton is following a breakout season, and much like Persson is looking to prove his strong numbers last year weren’t a byproduct of being on a talented team. Through 26 games this season he has posted six goals and 21 assists. This is well off the scorching pace he set last season, but is still very impressive given his team’s personnel.
Kichton was passed in his first year of draft eligibility due to his lack of playing time. He lacks size and is very offensive minded. In order to move onto the next level he will need to add strength to his game. He is a great puck-mover and makes good decisions in his own end though he truly excels on the man-advantage. If he ever moves onto the next level he projects as a power play specialist.
Kirill Kabanov, RW, Shawinigan Cataractes
Acquired: 3rd round (65th overall) in 2010
Kabanov has not taken his foot off the gas after an impressive postseason with the Lewiston Maineiacs. In 15 games he has racked up 10 goals and 10 assists. This is a significant improvement over his 28 points in 37 games last season.
Kabanov is an amazing offensive talent and is seen as a boom or bust type prospect. He has good size and is still filling out his frame. He has blazing speed to go along with great hands.
Until everything comes together and he becomes a prolific goal-scorer for the Islanders, Kabanov will probably continue to carry the ‘enigma’ status as a prospect.
Article was written by Josh Buckingham.