The New York Islanders are off to a fantastic start to the 2014-15 season with a 28-13-1 record. They currently contending for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and have among the most potent offenses in the NHL.
Impacts from the young players on the team have been a major reason for the turnaround from last year’s disappointing season. Anders Lee and Ryan Strome have stepped into the lineup full time and have provided secondary scoring that has been tough for opposing teams to match. Calvin de Haan has been a part of the revamped defense on Long Island. Both Strome and de Haan both played more than 25 games last season so they are not eligible for the Calder Trophy, however Lee is.
Anders Lee, LW, 24
Anders Lee has 10 goals and four assists in 36 games this season. After starting the season in Bridgeport, Lee received an early season callup and has remained in the lineup since. Lee started the season mainly as the left winger on a line with Brock Nelson and Strome, but recently has been with Frans Nielsen and Strome. The Minnesota native has been hot as of late scoring five goals in his past 11 games.
Lee is a heavy forechecker who plays a north south power game. He is a strong net presence which is where he scores a majority of his goals. Lee also has a powerful release on his shot.
Griffin Reinhart, D, 20
Reinhart has appeared in eight games for the Islanders this season. He made the team out of camp due to injuries, but was shortly sent down after three games. When injuries hit again in early December, Reinhart received a callup and appeared in five games. He registered his first NHL point, an assist, on December 9th against the Minnesota Wild.
Reinhart is near NHL ready and looks to be the frontrunner for a roster spot next season should the Islanders choose to move on from veteran Lubomir Visnovsky. His size and hockey sense makes Reinhart a safe projection to be a top four defenseman through his prime.
Ryan Strome, C, 21
In his first full NHL season, Strome has provided the Islanders with scoring depth. He is third on the team in scoring with seven goals and 23 assists, surpassing his totals from last season. The Mississauga native has often played on a line with Lee and Nelson, but has recently been with Nielsen and Lee. He has provided consistent offense with 10 points in both November and December. On New Year’s Eve, Strome registered his first career four point game, scoring a goal and three assists against the Winnipeg Jets.
Strome is developing just as expected when the team took him fifth overall in 2011. He is a creative offensive player who has tremendous on ice vision. Strome has been versatile for the Islanders playing both center and wing and has seen time on both the power play and penalty kill. Strome has now graduated from the prospect ranks and looks to be an impact NHL player for years to come.
Calvin de Haan, D, 23
In his second season on Long Island, de Haan has become a key member of the Islanders blue line. The 2009 first round pick has primarily been paired with Travis Hamonic on the second pairing. He has averaged 19:28 per game and plays on the top penalty killing unit. De Haan leads the Islanders with 82 blocked shots and is fourth on the team in hits.
De Haan has good hockey sense and moves the puck effectively. He still has another level to reach offensively and his point totals would be higher if he saw regular powerplay time. De Haan has proven he can be a solid top four defenseman through his prime who can contribute in any situation.
2015 World Junior Tournament Update
Linus Soderstrom, G, 18
Soderstrom starred in net for Team Sweden at the 2015 World Junior Championships. He was the only goalie to start in every one of his country’s games. The fourth round pick appeared in seven games with a 2.31 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Sweden as a team had a decent tournament going undefeated in the round robin. They lost to Russia in the semifinals 3-2. In the bronze medal game they fell short to an underdog Slovakia team 4-2. Soderstrom will probably be back in net next year for Sweden.
Ilya Sorokin, G, 19
Sorokin was the backup on a silver medal winning Russian team. He started the first game of the tournament against Denmark making 24 saves in a 3-2 win. He also started against team Sweden in the round robin making 23 saves in a 3-2 loss. Sorokin came in relief of starter Igor Shestyorkin (NYR) in the gold medal game when Canada got out to an early 2-0 lead. Sorokin stopped 15 of 18 shots letting in three early second period goals. After trailing 5-1, Russia’s comeback attempt ultimately fell short as the lost 5-4. Russia is the only country to medal every year for the past five years.
New York Islanders Prospect of the Month
Josh Ho-Sang started the season strong but went into a funk in late November and early December. That can be attested to adjusting to a new team, but he has really picked up his play as of late. He has 20 points in his last 11 games dating back to early December. During this time, Ho-Sang has had multiple three point games and a four point game. The former first round pick had four goals and nine assists in the month of December and has seven points in four games so far in January. Ho-Sang leads Niagara in scoring. The Ice Dogs has been a better team since Ho-Sang has joined and they are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games.