Islanders CHL prospects update

By Leslie Treff

The New York Islanders have six prospects playing in the CHL in 2005-06, four in the OHL and two in the WHL.

Ontario Hockey League

Ryan O’Marra, C, Erie Otters, OHL
6’1, 193; DOB: 6/9/87 Drafted: 2005 (1st Rd, 15th Overall)

O’Marra, one of the Islanders’ top prospects, is in his third season in Erie. His sophomore season brought increased offensive production over his first year, and he is on pace to increase his point totals yet again. In the 15 games he has played this year, O’Marra has garnered 26 points. Until he was stopped last night, he had a six-game scoring streak (of 15 points). In fact, during the week of October 22, O’Marra and his linemate, Michael Blunden, scored 31 points in five games for Erie.

Additionally, O’Marra has improved every other area of his game. Known as a skater who is fast and hard to knock off his skates, O’Marra has an excellent shot and good vision on the ice. His leadership skills have been rewarded with the captaincy of the Otter team.

O’Marra has been named to play for Team OHL in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge later this month.

Nick Tuzzolino, D, Sarnia Sting, OHL
6’5, 225; DOB: 1/18/86 Drafted: 2005 (7th Rd, 196 Overall)

Tuzzolino, a New York native, was the Islanders’ last pick in the 2005, and considered a project (he had been draft eligible in 2004). He has good size, and last year at Sarnia, Tuzzolino’s numbers were very presentable (24 points in 67 games), but his plus/minus (-30) was a worry to scouts.

A big guy who is not afraid to hit or to protect his teammates, Tuzzolino’s penalty minutes reflect his physical play — 128 last season, 45 this season. However, so far, in 18 games, Tuzzolino has continued to improve his offensive production with 12 points, and has made great strides in his plus/minus, which currently sits at +3. The Islanders are watching Tuzzolino closely, and if he continues to perform as he has so far this season, they will have gotten a steal in their last pick.

Jaroslav Mrazek, D, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, OHL
6’3, 198; DOB: 1/14/86 Drafted: 2004 (6th Rd, 179 Overall)

Mrazek came to North America and the OHL in 2004-05, after playing in the Czech league the previous year. It has been a tough adjustment for this stay-at-home defenseman. He did not show any real offensive skill during the season last year, just two points in 57 games, although he did garner 3 assists in 10 playoff games. It was hoped that Mrazek would build on that performance, however, after 18 games this season, he has only four points, and a plus/minus of –4.

Jason Pitton, LW, Sault-St.-Marie Greyhounds, OHL
6’3, 219; DOB: 5/23/86 Drafted: 2004 (8th Rd, 244 Overall)

This is Pitton’s fourth year with the Greyhounds, and each year he shown improvement in his game and his offensive production, even though the Soo team has not done well. Last season, Pitton accumulated 42 points in 68 games. This season, the big forward is on pace for even greater production, 15 points in 19 games. His plus/minus has gone from –4 to +3. Because Pitton has increased his size this year, he is a powerful force in front of the net. With a good shot and physical dominance, he will stand out on the Greyhound team.

Western Hockey League

Dustin Kohn, D, Calgary Hitmen, WHL
6’1, 195; DOB: 2/2/87 Drafted: 2005 (2nd Rd, 46th Overall)

Kohn, who was awarded the title of best defenseman by the Hitmen last season, has been named assistant captain in 2005-06. Although Kohn accumulated 43 points in 71 games last year, his production has slowed noticeably this season. In 17 games, Kohn has just one goal and three assists. Additionally, he has not picked up his physical game or his defensive play.

Despite this lack of progress, Kohn has been chosen to play for Team WHL at the 2005 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge on November 30 and December 1 of this year.

Blake Comeau, RW, Kelowna Rockets, WHL
6’1, 198; DOB: 2/18/86 Drafted: 2004 (2nd Rd, 47th Overall)

Comeau is lighting up the WHL with his offensive play. He is currently tied for second in the WHL in scoring with 27 points in 17 games. In his fourth full season with Kelowna, Comeau was named assistant captain at the start of the season. Not afraid of mixing it up (Comeau has taken over 100 PIM in the last two seasons), he is a gritty player, good on the forecheck, and a penalty killer.

This year, because of his tremendous offensive output, Comeau has seen quite a bit of time on the power play as well. Comeau’s offensive prowess has been noticed outside of Kelowna — he was recently named to the WHL team to play in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge.

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