2015 NHL Draft: New York Islanders draft review

By Christian Litscher

Parker Wotherspoon - New York Islanders - 2015 NHL Draft

Photo: New York Islanders fourth round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, defenseman Parker Wotherspoon of the Tri-City Americans, is the brother of Calgary Flames prospect Tyler Wotherspoon (courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

 

Parker Wotherspoon, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
4th round, 112th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 171 lbs

The Islanders went back to the WHL with their fourth selection of the draft, taking another defenseman in Wotherspoon. He went under the radar this year, but plays a safe, smart game that can be translated to the NHL. Wotherspoon is a great skater and is effective at both ends of the ice.

Wotherspoon finished with 42 points this season, improving off last year’s total of 18. He also made an impact at the U18 World Junior Championships, finishing tied with Senators first rounder Thomas Chabot for the lead in points from Canada’s blueline with five.

Wotherspoon has good bloodlines; his brother is a prospect for the Calgary Flames, and has seen some action in the NHL over the past two seasons. Wotherspoon will likely follow in the same footsteps. He has the potential to be a second pairing defenseman if everything goes right, but will likely settle into a third-pairing role.

Ryan Pilon, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
5th round, 147th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 206 lbs

Pilon was a player who saw his stock slide on draft day. He was projected to go anywhere between the second or third round. However, he fell all the way to the fifth, where the Islanders took their third defenseman of the day. Pilon was just excited to get drafted.

“Words can’t really describe it right now. It happens so quick coming down here putting on the jersey down here, it’s very humbling, I’m just excited,” he said. “It’s definitely a good experience watching that first round, watching Ivan go, that was very special , very proud of him going that high. Going through it today, it’s a long process, but it’s a great process. It’s something that I’ve looked forward to my whole life, you know it’s happened here being able to put on an NHL jersey is special.”

Pilon finished the season with 52 points in 68 games which was good enough to finish in the top ten amongst defenseman. The Wheat Kings finished with the most points in the WHL last year.

The Islanders have had recent success drafting out of the Brandon Wheat Kings organization, taking Ryan Pulock with their first round pick in 2013.

“Yeah for sure, it’s great for Brandon and it’s great for the players there. Knowing Puly very well, he’s said nothing but good things in New York and their farm system there so it’s exciting and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Pilon’s cousin Rich played for the Islanders from 1988-2000.

“It’s in the family, in the bloodlines. He played a lot of seasons with New York in the league. He’s had a big influence on it.”

Pilon compares his playing style to a Chicago Blackhawks defenseman who recently won his third Stanley Cup.

“I like to compare my game to a Brent Seabrook type of player. He’s hard in his own end, he’s also pretty clutch and likes to put up points too.”

Pilon has the talent to be a top four defenseman in the NHL, but these next two years in his development will be crucial for him to get there.

After his selection by the Islanders on Day 2 of the NHL Draft, Pilon met with the media to discuss his new team, with his comments being captured in this HF video.

Andong Song, D, Lawrenceville High School (USHS)
6th round, 182nd overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 161 lbs

There might not have been a bigger surprise in the 2015 NHL draft than the selection of Andong Song out of Lawrenceville High School. Song made history becoming the first Chinese player to ever get drafted by an NHL team.

“When I was 6 years old I kept getting sick as a child and my mom tried finding a sport for me and hockey came up as one of the options. I tried it out and fell in love with it.”

Song came to Canada as a kid to advance his hockey career.

“I moved to Canada when I was 10 years old. I’ve been going to prep school in New Jersey since I was 15. Before that I lived in China,” he said. “Definitely being the first Chinese player there is a lot of pressure from people back home, good pressure that will motivate me to be a better player and hopefully I will make them proud.”

Although there were not many opportunities for young hockey players, Song always found a way to get his ice time.

“Growing up there were only two rinks in at the time, it was really small, they weren’t even full-sized NHL rinks or anything. We would just section off parts of the ice and that’s how I started.

Hockey has been growing in China since Song left. The selection of Song is only going to add to that.

“When I started playing there weren’t a lot of people there,” he said. “There wasn’t much support for the game. Last year when I went back, it had been eight years since I’d seen Chinese hockey and it was tremendous how far it’s grown. I’m sure they’ll keep trying to catch up to Europe and North America and Russia. There’s still a gap between them, but I’m sure if we focus on hockey we can catch up.”

Song has spent the last three seasons playing for Lawrenceville, but will play for Andover Academy next season where Chris Kreider and Cory Schneider have previously played.

Song spoke with the media after his selection by the Islanders, with some of his comments being captured in this HF video.

Petter Hansson, D, Linkoping J20 (SuperElit)
7th round, 202nd overall
Height: 6-1 Weight: 187 lbs

The Islanders capped off their draft taking another defenseman in Peter Hansson. Hansson can be considered a late bloomer as he was undrafted last year, but exploded this year for 34 points in 38 games in the SuperElit. Hansson also saw 15 games in the SHL, which is no small feat at his age. Next year, he should be a full time player in the Swedish Hockey League. Hansson just seems to be just hitting the tip of the iceberg with his development, and would benefit from a few more years in Sweden. Hansson projects to be an all-around two way defenseman.

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