After a disappointing season, the New York Islanders found themselves again near the top of the draft with a fifth top five selection in six years. With no first round pick in next year’s draft, the Islanders could not afford to miss with the fifth overall pick this year.
The Islanders are an up and coming team in the Metropolitan division that already has a strong core already in place. The organization has done well drafting lately; it is just a matter of developing their young core and bringing in the right veterans to provide support. With some of the top prospects such as Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart stepping into the full time lineup next season, as well as the additions of Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, and Jaroslav Halak; the team should see a boost next season.
Garth Snow’s approach at the draft was ideal for what the organization needs. He added two high end wingers to the prospect pool with his two first round picks, taking Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang. Snow then added two goalies to the pipeline, Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom, as the position needed some fresh faces with the disappointment of some recent picks. He spent his next two picks on NCAA players, Devon Toews and Kyle Schempp, that will have more time to develop and allow the organization to get a better feel if they are worth a contract or not. Snow finished off his draft by taking overage forward in Lukas Sutter, a player that can step right into Bridgeport’s lineup in the fall.
Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
1st round, 5th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 182 lbs
The start of the draft unfolded perfectly for the New York Islanders as they prepared to add another potential franchise cornerstone. Set at the center ice position, which dominated the top of the draft, the Islanders went with Michael Dal Colle, the skilled winger from the Oshawa Generals. Dal Colle projects as a top line winger who has great hockey sense and finishing abilities.
Dal Colle fills a need in the organization and just happened to be the best player left on the board when the Islanders were on the clock.
“They talked with me this morning.” Dal Colle said when asked about the Islanders “I kind of had a gut feeling I was going there if I was available and it worked out great.”
“I think I’ll fit in well,” He added. “I think they need depth at the left wing and I think I’ll add to that for sure.”
Family is a big part of who Dal Colle is. His older brother Jonluca is autistic and Dal Colle calls him a role model in his life. His mom beat breast cancer when she was diagnosed seven years ago and has been cleared since 2009.
“My whole family is what drives me every day. I’m a very family oriented guy and everything I do is for them,” he said. “When they draft you, they want to know you off the ice, they see you on the ice, they don’t know you as a person.”
“They brought me in at sixteen and gave me first line minutes as a 16-year-old which doesn’t normally happen.” Dal Colle said. “I can’t thank DJ and the entire coaching staff, management staff enough.”
Dal Colle plans to compete for an NHL roster spot in Islanders training camp, but remains realistic about the possibility of him making camp as an 18-year-old.
“I want to play next year, that’s my goal. If not, one more year of junior, but my goal is I want to play next year and I think I’m almost there.”
The Islanders currently have 14 forwards signed on the roster so Dal Colle would have to blow the Islanders away at camp to make the team next fall. The Islanders have been very patient with their prospects lately and Dal Colle will be no exception. One more of junior would be the best fit for Dal Colle as he continues to fill out and work on his all-around game before he is ready to one day step into a top six forward role.
Dal Colle spoke with the media following his selection by the Islanders, with some of his comments captured in this HF video.
Josh Ho-Sang, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
1st round, 28th overall
Height: 5-11 Weight: 175 lbs – update admin
The Islanders traded picks 35 and 57 to move up to 28 to select Ho-Sang, a gifted but controversial player. Ho-Sang has been a hyped prospect since he played on the same minor midget team as top prospect Connor McDavid (2015) and was once considered a potential top five pick for this draft.
Ho-Sang has often been criticized as a “hotdog” with the puck and said to not use his teammates well enough, although he has come a long way in that regard. With all the noted flaws in Ho-Sang’s game, he does bring elite offensive ability to the table. He has silky hands and arguably as much pure talent as anyone in this draft, but alleged character issues have plagued him in his career so far.
Ho-Sang has not been chosen to represent Team Canada at any international event, although based on talent he could have easily played a scoring role in the past U18s. That has steered some teams to stay clear of Ho-Sang even though he had a great year in Windsor with 85 points. With the amount of depth in the Islander’s system, the organization could afford to go for the home run.
If Ho-Sang pans out, he would give the Islanders a potential top six winger to go along with their impressive group of centers. The bottom line is he fills a weakness in the organization’s prospect pool where they have built depth at every other position. Ho-Sang is also a right handed shot which is something the Islanders need more of.
Ho-Sang met with the media after being chosen by the Islanders, with some of that scrum being captured in this HF video.
Ilya Sorokin, G, Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL)
3rd round, 78th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 167 lbs
Ilya Sorokin spent a large portion of this year playing for Novokuznetsk of the KHL at the young age of 18. It is a rare sight to see the Islanders draft a player out of Russia; Sorokin is the first since Anton Klementyev back in 2009.
Sorokin is advanced for his age, already playing a full season against men where he put up a very respectable .911 save percentage and 2.90 goals against average. He is a very athletic goalie who uses fast movements and quick reflexes to make saves. Sorokin has good size, but needs to fill out weighing in at 167 pounds. He was ranked fifth for European goalies by Central Scouting.
The knock on Sorokin is the “Russian factor”. Sorokin is signed for the next three years in the KHL and there are questions if he will ever come over. With Halak signed for the next four years, the Islanders can afford to be patient with Sorokin as he develops. Goaltenders are difficult to get a good read on at this age, but Sorokin certainly has the potential to be an NHL goalie someday.
Linus Söderström, G, Djurgården J20 (SuperElit)
4th round, 95th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 187 lbs
The Islanders again went with a goaltender, selecting Linus Söderström out of Djurgården J20 in the SuperElit league. He is one of the youngest players in this draft, turning 18 in late August. Söderström is a long term project who will have plenty of time to develop in Sweden before coming to North America. He has great size in net and uses positioning to make saves. Söderström was ranked third for European goalies by Central Scouting.
Söderström was Sweden’s number one goaltender at the World Under 18’s this past Spring, starting six of the seven games in the tournament. He finished with a .899 save percentage and a 2.33 goals against average. Söderström was also a standout for Sweden at the Four Nations U18 tournament back in November as well as the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
There is a chance that Söderström gets to play some games for Djurgården of the SHL next year, but will likely play most of the season for Djurgården J20 again.
Devon Toews, D, Quinnipiac Bobcats (ECAC)
4th round, 108th overall
Height: 5-11 Weight: 175 lbs
Toews is an overage selection and a bit of a late bloomer, just finishing his freshman season after spending the previous two seasons in the BCHL. Toews is a tad undersized by NHL standards at 5’11, but plays bigger than his size. He has a great stick and uses positioning to keep opponents in check.
Toews is still developing and is in a great program to fine tune his game over the course of the next three years. He has great character and is often thought of as a leader of the Bobcats. Toews still has another level to reach offensively and will continue to increase his production as he plays more at the NCAA level.
Kyle Schempp, C, Ferris State Bulldogs (WCHA)
6th round, 155th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 178 lbs
Like Toews, Schempp was another overage selection for the Islanders, again from the NCAA. He has worked his way up from the NAHL to the USHL to Ferris State where he played this past season. Schempp is an offensive player who has great hands and offensive instincts. He had a good year, scoring 10 goals and putting up 25 points. As a result Schempp was selected to the WCHA all-rookie team.
There are a lot of seniors that graduated from Ferris State this past year, so Schempp has a chance to emerge as the main offensive threat for the Bulldogs next season. Ferris State is one of the top defensive programs in the country so there is hope that Schempp can eventually make his defensive game a strength. Schempp has three more years to work on his all-around game before making the jump to professional hockey.
Lukas Sutter, C, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
7th round, 200th overall
Height: 6-1 Weight: 202 lbs
The Islanders concluded their draft by taking a former 2nd rounder of the Winnipeg Jets in 2009 with Lukas Sutter. The Islanders traded down to select Sutter, acquiring another 7th next year in the process. He comes from the hockey famous Sutter family and you can see it in his play. Sutter plays hard, is responsible defensively, and is a good penalty killer. He does not have too much offensive potential as an NHL player, but he can become a valuable depth player. Sutter can step right into Bridgeport’s lineup next season, which had to play into the decision to draft him as they are short on incoming forward prospects.