New York Islanders graduate two promising youngsters from the NCAA ranks

By Josh Buckingham

Robbie Russo - New York Islanders

Photo: Defenseman Robbie Russo had a successful sophomore season with Notre Dame, where he posted five goals and 18 assists through 41 games. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders do not have a large quantity of prospects playing at the NCAA level and overseas, but some of these youngsters have a good chance of making a considerable impact with the organization in the 2013-14 season.

Anders Lee and Scott Mayfield both signed entry-level contracts recently, allowing them to make the jump to the professional ranks at the conclusion of their collegiate seasons. On the other hand, it appears Robbie Russo, another promising college prospect, will continue to hone his skills at Notre Dame for at least another season.

Across the pond, the Islanders also have three other prospects competing in both the KHL and Finland. Of those three prospects it appears Ville Pokka is the most likely to cross the pond to play in North America. Kirill Petrov and Mikko Koskinen are still up in the air with when or if they will ever decide to play in North America.

NCAA

Anders Lee, C/LW, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA)
Drafted 6th Round, 152nd overall, 2009

Anders Lee captained Notre Dame to the last ever CCHA Championship and received many personal honors along the way including: CCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA (West) Second All-American Team. At the conclusion of the Fighting Irish's season he signed a two-year entry-level contract and joined the big club immediately. In his first NHL game he scored a goal and added an assist in his second. Lee remained with the Islanders to finish out the season and was also able to get a feel of what playoff atmosphere is like.

Lee has great size, which he uses to dominate along the boards and in front of the net. He is not afraid to drive the net and get his nose dirty. Due to his size he has a very heavy shot. The one thing he needs to work on this offseason is his foot speed. If he can increase his speed he will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. Because he did not play more than five games, two years will remain on his entry-level contract. Lee will fight for a spot on the Isles to start next season and hopefully can lock down a spot or he will start the season in Bridgeport.

Scott Mayfield, D, Denver Pioneers (WCHA)
Drafted 2nd Round, 32nd overall, 2011

Scott Mayfield did not experience a sophomore slump in any way this season. He competed in all 39 games for the Pioneers and increased his offensive output scoring four goals and adding 17 assists for 21 points. However, the 20-year-old is never going to blow anyone away with his offensive instincts, as he is a shutdown defenseman. He has a lengthy frame, standing at 6'4 and weighing just north of 200 pounds. He can definitely benefit from adding a few more pounds of muscle this summer so he is able to handle grown men at the AHL or NHL level. The best aspect of Mayfield's game is his nastiness and willingness to battle the opposition. He loves to throw his body around and not give his opponents an inch. The one thing he will work on this offseason is his mobility, which is not a huge concern, but there is always room for improvement.

At the conclusion of his sophomore campaign he decided to sign a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders and joined Bridgeport. He played six games for the Tigers where he more than held his own and proved he can play at the professional level. Mayfield will most likely start next season in Bridgeport where he will receive a ton of ice time and continue his development.  

Robbie Russo, D, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA)
Drafted 4th Round, 95th overall, 2011

Like fellow prospect Scott Mayfield, Robbie Russo had a solid sophomore season. With a year of experience under his belt he was given much more responsibility and ice time, which allowed him to thrive. In 41 games, he scored five goals and added 18 helpers for 23 points. He is not the biggest blueliner, but he is an in your face defensemen that will not back down. He is very competitive and a great leader. Overall, his game is well rounded as he does everything quite well. He will return to Notre Dame for his junior season where he will continue to be an anchor on their blue line.

Cody Rosen, G, Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC)
Drafted 7th round, 185th overall, 2010

Rosen was a little utilized backup in his four years with Clarkson. He appeared in a total of 12 games in his collegiate career and at no point ever appeared to really challenge for the starting job. Following his graduation, he joined the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SJHL.

Europe

Ville Pokka, D, Kärpät (SM-liiga)
Drafted 2nd Round, 34th overall, 2012

Pokka thrived this season playing an expanded role in Finland's top professional league. In 47 games, he scored six goals and assisted on six others for 12 points. He also was a bright spot for Team Finland at the WJC, recording six points in six games. Pokka's game is based around his ability to move the puck efficiently from the back-end. He has great vision and is able to make a very good breakout pass. He is not the most physical defenseman, but he will not back down. He has a lot of room to grow offensively given his great offensive instincts.

Next season he will play again for Kärpät where he is under contract until the end of the 2014-15 season. He should continue to receive more ice time as he gains more experience, which will be good for his overall development. Pokka projects as a top four defenseman in the near future.

Kirill Petrov, LW/RW, AK Bars Kazan (KHL)
Drafted 3rd Round, 73rd overall, 2008

The Islanders recently received news that Petrov decided to re-sign with his KHL club AK Bars Kazan. It is still unknown as to the number of years the contract is for, but his rights will remain with the Islanders. Petrov is a very big winger with great speed. He is able to handle the puck very well at high speeds and is very shifty for his size. His offensive output declined a bit this season, but there is no doubting his abilities. He recently finished playing in the IIHF World Championships for his native Russia. He showed flashes of great play in the tournament, but definitely needs to become much more consistent.  

When Petrov decides to cross the pond and sign with the Islanders there is no doubt he will be given a great chance to start out with the big club right away. In the mean time he will continue to play in the KHL and the Islanders will keep a close eye on him.

Mikko Koskinen, G, KalPa (SM-Liiga)
Drafted 2nd Round, 31st overall, 2009

Ever since leaving Bridgeport to return to his home country of Finland, Koskinen has played quite well. He joined KalPa of the Finnish Elite League, immediately becoming their starting goaltender posting very solid numbers. Koskinen is a hulking goaltender standing 6'7. He uses his tremendous size to his advantage and frustrate the opposition. It is still unclear how his future with the Islanders will pan out at this point.

Related Articles