Islanders CHL prospect season review

By George Bachul

The New York Islanders at present are a European-heavy organization with only six players who played in the Canadian Hockey League in 2005-06. The Islanders had four players in the OHL and two in the WHL.

OHL

Ryan O’Marra, C — Erie Otters
Ht: 6’2 Wt: 200
2005 1st round pick (15th overall)

Ryan O’Marra on a personal basis had a quality season that keeps him in consideration as one of the best prospects in the organization. He ended his season with a team disappointment as his Erie Otters failed to qualify for the postseason. O’Marra achieved a high level of success with personal bests in goals, assists and points (77 points in 61 games) with added grit to his game, more than doubling his penalty minute totals from a year ago. O’Marra also achieved gold in the World Under 20 Hockey Championships with Team Canada. He was also recognized in the annual OHL Coaches poll as the best faceoff man in his conference.

The Islanders continue to be excited about O’Marra’s two-way game and leadership potential. The Islanders recently signed O’Marra to a three-year deal and expect him to report to Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL to help them with their playoff run.

Jaroslav Mrazek, D — St. Mike’s Majors
Ht: 6’2 Wt: 202
2004 6th round pick (179th overall)

Jaroslav Mrazek was a late round pick that the Islanders took a chance on because of his strong defensive play. This was Mrazek’s second full season in the OHL playing for the St. Mike’s Majors. Mrazek will never dazzle anyone with his offensive ability, with no goals so far in his entire OHL career. Mrazek did increase his output to 12 assists in 61 games, but ended the season at a –10, a decrease of eight from last season.

Mrazek’s season is now complete as the Barrie Colts eliminated his St. Mike’s Majors from the playoffs in a sweep.

Jason Pitton, LW — Guelph Storm
Ht: 6’3 Wt: 219
2004 8th round pick (244th overall)

Jason Pitton seems to be developing nicely into energy forward with some scoring touch. The problem with that development for Pitton this season was traded from his team of the last three seasons, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to the Guelph Storm where his production significantly dropped from almost a point a game pace to under a point every two games.

Pitton is presently engaged in the OHL playoffs with the Guelph Storm and moving on to the second round.

Nick Tuzzolino, D — Sudbury Wolves
Ht: 6’5 Wt: 225
2005 7th round pick (196th overall)

As with Jason Pitton, Nick Tuzzolino was going through a fine year in development with his team of the last two seasons in the Sarnia Sting when he was traded to the Sudbury Wolves for Tomas Sample and a second round pick in the OHL draft. As a big defenseman, Tuzzolino had improved his mobility and offensive acumen eclipsing his previous year’s scoring stats halfway through the season producing 27 points in his first 37 games.

The trade to the Sudbury Wolves from the struggling Sting provided pluses and minuses with Tuzzolino able to develop in a winning environment and a playoff run. Conversely, he did drop in the depth chart under New York Rangers prospect Marc Staal and three-year Sudbury Wolves veteran Jonathan D’Aversa.

As with many large bodied blueliners, Tuzzolino will require several years of seasoning but this year can be considered quality year of development.

Tuzzolino and the Sudbury Wolves have moved on to the second round of the playoffs to face the Peterborough Petes.

WHL

Dustin Kohn, D — Brandon Wheat Kings
Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185
2005 2nd round pick (46th overall)

As a second round pick, more was expected of Dustin Kohn this year. His year followed the pattern of his CHL Islander brethren with a mid-season trade that saw him move from the Calgary Hitmen to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The agile blueliner did increase his offensive output from the first half of the season upon joining the Wheat Kings, but more so improved his defensive game and that of those around him.

Kohn also was selected to play in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge and scored two assists in the two games with the Western Hockey League Selects. His performance was good, but his lack of offensive production over the season was a major factor in being left off Team Canada in the IIHF Under 20 World Championships.

Kohn’s season is presently over after the Moose Jaw Warriors swept Brandon.

Blake Comeau, RW — Kelowna Rockets
Ht: 6’1 Wt: 198
2004 2nd round pick (47th overall)

The Islanders top CHL prospect had what one could be considered a banner year in the Western Hockey League and internationally. The second round pick in 2005 put up solid numbers in every category with 21 goals, 53 assists for 74 points in 60 games, eclipsing his personal best by 27 points. He finished in the top 20 in the WHL in scoring.

Comeau also helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal at the IIHF Under 20 World Championship, leading the team in points and was a key player for Head Coach Brent Sutter in all situations.

Comeau’s year did not go unnoticed by Islander brass. Comeau was signed to his first NHL contract in March.

The hard-working forward seems to bring success at all levels with two WHL championships and a Memorial Cup in the last three seasons. He is presently entering the second round with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL playoffs.


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