Anders Lee is one of a handful of immensely talented players representing the New York Islanders in the NCAA. Projected as a top-nine forward, Lee is thought to already have an NHL-ready frame. (Photo courtesy of Zumapress/Icon SMI)
The New York Islanders have stockpiled some very serious talent in the NCAA, SEL, and KHL. Most of these young guns need a few more years of seasoning before joining the Isles, though one of them, Brock Nelson, could be ready as soon as next year. Nelson is fresh off signing an entry-level contract with the Islanders after a breakout collegiate season. So far he is the only NCCA player to have signed a contract with the Isles this season, but more will be joining him in the next few years.
Over the pond there is no lack of young talent as well. They have some high octane scoring in Kirill Petrov and a tough young center in Johan Sundstrom. The next step is prying these highly touted prospects out of their respective countries and bringing them over to play in the Islanders system.
Brock Nelson, C, North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WCHA)
Drafted 1st Round, 30th Overall, 2010
This year was a huge coming out party for this big power forward. He shattered his previous year goal total by scoring 28 goals in just 42 games. Nelson has outstanding size and the perfect frame for a center. He is a very powerful skater, which helps him to dominate on the forecheck. He has a very hefty shot as well, and he loves to crash the net hard.
After his collegiate season he decided to sign a three-year entry level deal with the Islanders and join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for their playoff push. He has yet to record a point at the AHL level, but it should not be long before he grows accustomed to playing against professionals. Nelson projects as a top-nine center as early as next year.
Scott Mayfield, D, Denver Pioneers (WCHA)
Drafted 2nd Round, 34th Overall, 2011
Mayfield is coming off a very solid freshman season in which he logged a lot of ice time. He is not going to blow you away with his statistics because he is more of a stay at home defenseman. If he is able to put on some weight and add some muscle, the opposing forwards will be in some very serious trouble. Mayfield loves to throw his body around and has a bit of snarl to his game.
He will benefit from a few more years at the University of Denver to hone his skills and improve his skating ability. He projects as a top-four defenseman capable of moving the puck up ice and shutting down opposing forwards.
Anders Lee, C, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA)
Drafted 6th Round, 152nd Overall, 2009
After a point per game freshman season Lee's production slipped up a bit this year, but he definitely improved other areas of his game. Lee already has the body to make the jump to Bridgeport, but has decided to return to Notre Dame for his junior season. This may be a very good decision given the Islanders depth up the middle. Lee is great in the faceoff circle and wins most of the battles down low in his own zone. If he continues to improve his defensive game he should have a very good chance of becoming a very effective top-nine forward with Islanders in the next few years.
Robbie Russo, D, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA)
Drafted 4th Round, 95th Overall, 2011
Russo is definitely a guy to keep your eye on next year, as he seems poised for a breakout sophomore season. He is a very well rounded defenseman and is very consistent. He moves the puck very well and will not shy away from the rough stuff. He also plays with a lot of tenacity and has proven to be a great leader in the room. Next season he will fight for a spot on the United States WJC Team. He will definitely benefit from gaining valuable experience playing for them and another year at the collegiate ranks with Notre Dame.
Jason Clark, LW, Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA)
Drafted 3rd Round, 82nd Overall, 2010
After being a highly touted prospect out of Shattuck St. Mary's, he has been a huge disappointment in his first two seasons as a Wisconsin Badger. In two seasons he has played a combined 35 games and has recorded just two assists in those games. It is still much too early to give up on him given his success prior to making the jump to Wisconsin.
Corey Trivino, C, Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
Drafted 2nd Round, 36th Overall, 2008
Trivino was leading all of Hockey East in scoring before his season was derailed by some very serious allegations, which resulted in his dismissal from the team. The most recent developments have seen two very serious charges dropped, but his hockey future is still murky at this point.
Johan Sundstrom, C/W , Vastra Frolunda HC (SEL)
Drafted 2nd Round, 50th Overall, 2011
Sundstrom has had a very good impressive year including a gold medal in the WJC representing his native Sweden. In six games he posted five points while also shutting down the opposing teams top lines. He showed some great leadership qualities serving as the team's assistant captain. Sundstrom has great size and is very versatile given that he can play both wing and center. He has good puck handling skills and is able to protect the puck using his large body. In 49 games with Vastra Frolunda, Sundstrom managed six goals and five assists.
The only downside with Sundstrom is the fact that he is under contract with Frölunda for two more seasons. Hopefully he is able to develop his game in the SEL and is ready to come over after those two seasons if not earlier.
Kirill Petrov, RW/LW, AK Bars Kazan (KHL)
Drafted 3rd Round, 73rd Overall, 2008
Petrov is a very rangy winger with good reach, which he uses to control the puck. In 52 games this season he sniped 16 goals and added 13 helpers. He has great release on his shot and speed to match. It is very likely he is finally able to join the Islanders next season, and he should become an instant offensive weapon.
Yuri Alexandrov, D, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
Drafted 2nd Round, 37th Overall, 2006 (Boston)
Alexandrov was acquired in a trade with Boston Bruins for future considerations. Considering the Islanders did not give up much, if anything, this trade is worth the gamble. He decided to return to the KHL for 2011-12 after appearing in 66 games with Providence Bruins, the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate in 2010-11.
Alexandrov moves the puck very well and does not shy away from the physical game. There is still some hope that he could have another shot in North America with the Isles because he still has one year remaining on his entry-level deal. Overall, it is still very unclear where he stands in the Islanders future plans.