Islanders NCAA prospects update

By Jeffrey Bausch

The New York Islanders have seven prospects presently competing at the collegiate level – four players on offense, two on defense, and one goaltender. All of them were selected in either the 2005 or 2006 drafts.

Rhett Rakhshani, RW

University of Denver
Drafted 2006 4th round (100th overall)

Rakhshani, now in his second year with the University of Denver, is right on pace to match last season’s efforts, in which he scored 36 points and 38 penalty minutes in 40 games. This year, through 20 games played, Rakhshani has scored eight goals, nine assists for 17 points and 30 penalty minutes.

Rakhshani continues to develop at a steady pace. He is also seeing some significant time on the special team units, which is enhancing his abilities as a playmaker. Rakhshani is also coming through for his teammates when it matters most – he’s tied for third on the team in game-winning goals. He’s third on the team in shots on goal.

Right now, at this stage in his career, Rakhshani is a solid college-level player. He will have to continue working hard in developing his weaknesses, particularly his speed at being able to read plays, both offensively and defensively.

Shea Guthrie, C

Clarkson University
Drafted 2005 3rd round (76th overall)

Centerman Guthrie is in his junior year of play for Clarkson University. Last season, Guthrie scored 31 points and 30 penalty minutes in 36 games. This year, through 21 games, he’s scored only five goals, nine assists for 14 points and 16 penalty minutes.

This is a bit of a disappointing season for Guthrie. He showed some promise at the end of last season, averaging close to a point per game. Now, halfway through the year, he’s well under matching that and is barely maintaining a spot within the top five in scoring on the team. His physical play has also been lacking.  He’s seeing limited playing time on special team units.

Guthrie has the ability to take his career as far as he’s willing to work for it. He has great speed, a tremendous set of hands and a terrific shot. There’s still plenty of room for improvement and he needs to fine-tune his talents before he turns pro.

Doug Rogers, C
Harvard University
Drafted 2006 4th round (119th overall)

Rogers, a second-year center for Harvard University, appears to be on track to match last year’s statistical totals. In 33 games played during the 2006 season, he scored 24 points and 18 penalty minutes. This year, through 18 games, he’s scored two goals, registered nine assists for 11 points and 18 penalty minutes.

Part of the reason Rogers’ numbers aren’t better is because he’s not playing on a very good team. His point total so far is good enough for third place overall, just one shy of being tied for the team lead. He continues to show good discipline to go along with sound on-ice intelligence, and leads the team in plus/minus with a +5 rating.

Rogers is a physical player and does the right things with the puck, but doesn’t carry with him a tremendous amount of natural skill. Rather, he’s a hard worker who is willing to get his nose dirty and do whatever it takes – whether it’s making the big hit, winning the key faceoff, etc. A key factor in Rogers being considered among the Islanders top collegiate prospects is that he’s been noted, even before joining Harvard, as being an excellent leader and true team player. He has a shot at making it to the minors, but his chances of playing for the Islanders are still a ways away. 

Brian Day, RW
Colgate University
Drafted 2006 6th round (171st overall)

Right winger Day is in his freshman season with Colgate University. Through 21 games, he’s opening a lot of eyes by scoring eight goals, eight assists for 16 points.

Day has been named a runner-up for Rookie of the Month honors in October, November and December. He plays a solid all-around game, but a lot of his skill has yet to really surface. He shows a great set of hands, hard accurate shot and enough tenacity in going after the puck to make defensemen second guess going into the corners with their backs to him.

It’s always great news when a young player who was selected as deep in the draft as Day was gets off to this kind of start. Truth be told, though, Day is surrounded by a great roster of talented teammates who are able to get him the puck and put him in position to score. He will need to continue to work hard on developing his individual skills over the next few seasons at Colgate. If he spends his time well, he should be better prepared as a more fully developed all-around, utility-type player, ready to compete at a professional level.

Tyrell Mason, D
Clarkson University
Drafted 2005 6th round (180th overall)

Mason is in his third year with Clarkson University. Last season, the rearguard put together 12 points and 62 penalty minutes over the course of 39 games. This season, through 20 games played, he’s scored five assists and has 24 penalty minutes.

Mason’s a pretty easy player to figure out. He likes the physical game and is more focused on stopping the oncoming play than racking up goals or assists. He’s stands at 6’2, moves well and is fairly reliable in his zone.

He’s the one you want out there to kill a penalty or go up against another team’s top line. A real defensive defenseman, he doesn’t see much time on the power play and his stick handling and shot could use some work. He will have to work hard at proving his value in the coming years.

Shane Sims, D
The Ohio State University
Drafted 2006 5th round (126th overall)

Another Islanders prospect in his freshman year , defenseman Shane Sims is suiting up for The Ohio State University. He’s fared well thus far, scoring one goal, five assists for six points and 35 penalty minutes through 24 games.

Sims is doing a lot of good things – while he’s taking plenty of shots, he’s also blocking plenty, too, enough to lead the team. But for as much as he’s doing right, there are still some things that need to be worked on. For one, he needs to play a smarter game. He gets caught out of position and his -11 plus/minus rating is fourth-worst on the team.

It’s still far too soon to make any sort of accurate prediction about just how far Sims will go. On one hand, he can continue being a defensive leader on the team – the one who’ll sacrifice his body to stop a shot, then get up and move the puck up ice, or he could turn into the type of player who tries to do too much on the ice. He’s a smart player, so in all likelihood, he should begin to steer his game in the right direction.

Jase Weslosky, G
St. Cloud State University
Drafted 2006 4th round (108th overall)

Goaltender Weslosky is in his second year with St. Cloud State. As a freshman he saw limited playing time, only six games the entire season. But his efforts during those few games drew praise from the coaching staff as he put together a solid 5-1 record, with a 2.68 GAA, a .899 SV% and one shutout. This year, he’s the team’s starting goalie, and has registered a 8-8 record, with a 2.36 GAA, .922 SV% and one shutout. 

Weslosky is very quick in the crease and is always in good position to stop the shot. He does have some trouble reading the play when it’s a quick, oncoming rush, but when the other team tries to set up on the power play and Weslosky’s given the chance to get himself into position, it’s a safe bet he’ll stop the puck. This was something that he needed to work on during the off-season, as eight of the 16 goals he let in last year were on the power play. This season, only six of the 39 goals he has let in have come on the power play.

Weslosky’s in an excellent position for an opportunity in the organization. The Islanders do not have a lot of depth when it comes to goaltending, so any prospect has a legitimate shot at making it through the system quickly. There are still some aspects of Weslosky’s game that need to be worked on, particularly with his ability to quickly get into position, but if he’s able to hold on to the starter role for the remaining time he spends with St. Cloud State, which will be no easy task with Capitals goaltending prospect Dan Dunn, a freshman, nipping at his heels, Weslosky should be primed to make a big splash in training camp a few seasons down the road.