With the NHL regular season coming to a close, the New York Islanders are nearing their second consecutive playoff berth. Many of the organization’s prospects have found similar success competing on teams competing for a championship in their respective leagues.
The Islanders have a fair number of players playing at the NCAA level. The organization has looked to the NCAA ranks with mid- to late-round picks with hopes that they can patch any holes in their game over their four years of eligibility. This also gives the Islanders more time to decide whether or not the prospect is worth giving a contract to. Brock Nelson was the last successful pick the Islanders have had from the NCAA, but the likes of Devon Toews, Doyle Somerby, and Kyle Schempp have shown promise.
The Islanders have also gambled on high upside Europeans with later round picks in the draft, although at a lower rate in comparison to the NCAA. This approach is looking shrewd as both Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom have shown NHL upside at this point in their young careers. These two netminders along with Johan Sundstrom and Petter Hansson make up the Islanders European prospect pool.
Eamon McAdam, G, Penn State University (Big Ten)
Drafted 3rd round, 70th overall, in 2013
McAdam finished the best season of his collegiate career on an improved Penn State program. He took over the starting job and finished with a .913 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average. Now in their fourth NCAA D-1 season, McAdam has helped transition Penn State into a respectable program as they were ranked in the top 25 for the majority of the season.
Penn State entered the Big Ten tournament as the number three seed. In the opening round, the Nitany Lions beat Wisconsin, 5-2, with McAdam turning aside 35 shots. In the next round, they fell 7-2 to the high-octane Michigan offense. At the conclusion of Penn State’s season, McAdam signed an entry-level contract with the New York Islanders. He will be in the mix next season for a spot on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Kyle Schempp, C, Ferris State University (WCHA)
Drafted 6th round, 155th overall, in 2012
Now in his junior season, Schempp continued to be a leader for the Ferris State Bulldogs, serving as team captain. He regained his offensive touch, bouncing back from a rough sophomore season to tie his career-high of 25 points from his freshman year, a year in which Schempp took home WCHA All-Rookie honors. Schempp played a critical role for the Bulldogs as a go-to player who can handle any situation.
Ferris State advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the WCHA tournament. Schempp helped lead the Bulldogs with a goal and an assist in four WCHA tournament games. Ferris State upset the number one-seeded St. Cloud State Huskies, 5-1, in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional and then advanced to play the University of Denver in the second round. Schempp scored on the power play to tie the game at 3 in the middle stages of the third period, but Ferris State ultimately fell short by a score of 6-3.
With his season completed, Schempp also elected to end his college career, signing a two-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders. He has appeared in two games for the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, where he has picked up two assists
Taylor Cammarata, LW, University of Minnesota (Big Ten)
Drafted 3rd round, 76th overall, in 2013
Cammarata had a troubling junior season for the historical powerhouse Minnesota Golden Gophers. His development has stagnated since coming in as a highly-touted freshman. The Minnesota native finished his season with 19 points after posting back-to-back 27-point seasons as a freshman and sophomore. Cammarata started the season out slow, but finished strong with 13 points in his last 15 games.
Minnesota entered the Big Ten tournament as the number one seed. They advanced to the Big Ten Championship, but ultimately fell short to Michigan, 5-3. Minnesota failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
Next year will be Cammarata’s last collegiate season and he will need a bounce back season to earn a contract with the Islanders. His size hurts him, but Cammarata has excellent vision and can make plays when given an opportunity.
Devon Toews, D, Quinnipiac University (ECAC)
Drafted 4th round, 108th overall, in 2014
Toews has developed extremely well since being drafted two seasons ago. The offensively talented defenseman posted 30 points in 40 games this season, which has set a career high for the British Columbia native. He was one of five defensemen to reach the 30-point plateau in the NCAA this season.
Toews led Quinnipiac to the ECAC Tournament championship, where they beat Harvard, 4-1, in the championship game. Quinnipiac entered the NCAA Tournament as the number one seed, looking for the program’s first-ever national championship. The team advanced to the Frozen Four after beating RIT, 4-0, and UMass-Lowell, 4-1, then defeated Boston College for a birth in the National Championship game. But the Bobcats were bested by the University of North Dakota, 5-1, in the final, handing Quinnipiac their second title game loss in four years.
Toews has been one of the best collegiate defenders this season. He is a calm puck-mover who is effective at both ends of the ice. It is yet to be determined whether Toews will return for his senior season or turn pro next season.
Jake Bischoff, D, University of Minnesota (Big Ten)
Drafted 7th round, 185th overall, in 2014
Bischoff, now serving as assistant captain for the Golden Gophers, has taken a larger role on the team, becoming a leader on the back end. Bischoff has gained confidence with the puck and has had solid play away from the puck. These improvements allowed Bischoff to set a career-high with 18 points in 37 games.
Like Cammarata, Bischoff was disappointed with the end to the Gophers season. The Grand Rapids native will enter his senior year in the fall and will be looking to build on this season’s success. He will be playing for a contract as the Islanders have a deep system on defense, with many young defensemen already signed.
Doyle Somerby, D, Boston University (Hockey East)
Drafted 5th round, 125th overall, in 2012
Somerby has made significant strides in his game throughout his three seasons with the Terriers. He came to Boston University as a project who had good size and athletic ability, but had holes to patch in his game. He has since improved his play with the puck and has gained confidence overall. It has shown in his game, as he has set a career high with 13 points.
Boston University fell to UMass-Lowell in the second round of the Hockey East Tournament. They entered the NCAA Tournament as the third seed in the West Regional, but never found their groove and fell to the University of Denver, 7-2, in the opening round.
Somerby will likely return for his senior season next fall. He will likely see an increased role as captain Matt Grzelcyk is set to graduate. Somerby is a project, but has NHL potential if he can continue to progress.
Linus Soderstrom, G, HC Vita Hästen (Allsvenskan)
Drafted 4th round, 95th overall, in 2014
Soderstrom has progressed well since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft. He has become an elite goalie in the Allsvenskan, posting a 1.86 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. The Stockholm native is big in net and uses strong positioning to make saves.
Soderstrom started for Team Sweden at the World Juniors, again taking home top goaltender honors. He finished the tournament with a .947 save percentage and a 1.42 goals-against average. Sweden had a disappointing end to the tournament, however, finishing fourth.
Soderstrom will likely continue to develop in Sweden next season, which should include playing time in the SHL. The tall Swede has NHL potential, but is a long-term development project who will need time to get there.
Ilya Sorokin, G, CSKA Moskva (KHL)
Drafted 3rd round, 78th overall, in 2014
Sorokin has had an incredible season in the KHL. He started the season on the third string but quickly became the go-to, number one goaltender for CSKA Moskva. Sorokin finished the regular season with an outstanding .953 save percentage and a 1.06 goals-against average, which were both among the best in the KHL. The Russian netminder had a 17-7-4 record with 10 shutouts.
In the postseason so far, Sorokin is 14-2 as CSKA Moskva looks to win the Gagarin Cup after finishing first in the regular season. Sorokin is also among the KHL leaders with a .948 save percentage and a 1.23 goals-against average in postseason play.
Sorokin has established himself as a premier goaltender in the KHL at the ripe age of 21. He has the potential to be a starting goaltender in the NHL, but is signed until 2018 in the KHL and may not cross the pond until then.
Johan Sundstrom, C, Frolunda HC (SHL)
Drafted 2nd round, 50th overall, in 2016
Sundstrom returned to his native country to play in the SHL this season after spending the past three seasons in North America. Sundstrom has had his best professional season to date with 36 points in 51 SHL games. The SHL is a low-scoring league, so Sundstrom’s 36 points were enough to finish in the top 20. Sundstrom never found his groove in the Islanders system, but has shown his talent this season. Sundstrom is signed through next season in the SHL and it seems unlikely that he will return to New York when that deal has expired.
Petter Hansson, D, Linköping HC J20 (SuperElit)
Drafted 7th round, 202nd overall, in 2015
Hansson has struggled to make his mark so far in his young career. He has played games at both professional levels in Sweden this season, the SHL and the Allsvenskan, and also the junior level. The offensive defenseman was not able to find his game and had no points in a combined 17 games professionally. Hansson finished his season playing for Linkoping U20 of the SuperElit. Hansson is a long-term project who will continue to gain key development time next season.
Prospect of the Month: Michael Dal Colle
Michael Dal Colle finished his season strong with 22 points in February and nine points in March. Kingston enters the OHL playoffs as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Dal Colle has stepped in big for the Frontenacs during their series against his former team, the Oshawa Generals. In game two of the series, Dal Colle registered five assists in a 7-3 win. In game three, Dal Colle put up two goals and two assists in a 5-4 win. Dal Colle knows what it takes to win, having been through the playoff grind after winning the Memorial Cup last season. The skilled winger is looking to finish his OHL career off on a high note before turning pro next season.