Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Former New York Islanders 1st overall draft pick John Tavares has taken a huge step in development in each of his first three seasons in the NHL. Picked with the hope of one day leading the New York Islanders into regular contention, the franchise has been expecting him to also lead the way in the scoring department, something he’s done in each of his three seasons with the team, going from 54 to 67 to 81 points over this period of time.
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.
Photo: Defenseman Andrey Pedan has exploded offensively this season, managing 10 goals, 30 assists, and 152 penalty minutes in 63 regular season games. (Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Nineteen-year-old Andrey Pedan is among those Russians who preferred venturing in the Canadian junior leagues system, rather than going for the usual route for European players; playing junior hockey back home then signing a contract directly with their draft team several years later. "My agent Alexei Dementiev advised me to go and play in the OHL, and this is what I did as I completely trust him. I think it was a good decision, I already adapted to the small ice surface last year and this year I further improved my game", Pedan said in Russian.
Gilles Gilbert, Fred Brathwaite, Jeff Reese, Peter Ing, Pat Riggin, and – most recently – Adam Dennis (BUF). The list of quality goaltenders whose route to the NHL has taken them through London, Ontario is notable in its length and quality. But it’s safe to say that few have had as bumpy a ride as current London Knights starter – and Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick – Steve Mason.
Although Mason’s currently enjoying the lion’s share of the netminding duties for the Knights, it’s a role that he earned by enduring a year of frustration, turmoil, and hard work – although most of that occurred away from the glare of the lights at the John Labatt Centre in the less-spectacular confines of the Knights’ practice facility.
Mason served as the backup for Dennis last season. It was a season that saw Dennis play in 57 games – including an unfathomable 45-straight contests, en route to breaking the OHL’s record for single-season victories with 44. In fact, last season started off particularly auspiciously for Mason last year as he was shellacked in the early going as Dennis and a trio of other key players remained at NHL training camps. In the end, while the wins came, Mason saw action in just 12 games, compiling a 5-3 record with a 2.66 GAA and .931 save percentage.
Oh, what a difference a year makes. This year, Mason has suited up for 29 games already and while his GAA has increased to 3.18 playing behind the run-and-gun Knights with their suspect defense, his .918 save percentage and the general accolades that he’s received f Read more»