The Islanders franchise seems to be stuck in a perpetual rebuilding phase. The team has had an impressive crop of promising prospects for what seems like several years but the kids need to take the next step and start making an impact at the NHL level.
It seems every time the organization takes a step forward with an improved season or playoff performance and is poised to move forward, it takes two steps back instead. The team has a deep and impressive group of prospects but if Islanders can’t get John Tavares to sign a contract extension, it will be another monumental step backwards.
Top 10 New York Islanders Prospects
1. Mathew Barzal – Center
2015-16: Seattle (WHL)
Drafted: 16th overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft by New York Islanders
Barzal started the season in the NHL making his debut but was limited to just two games. He was quickly and surprisingly returned to his junior team. Barzal was an important player for Team Canada at the World Junior where he scored three goals and five assists in seven games.
That Barzal failed to crack the Islanders roster as a 19-year-old does not diminish his potential as a prominent NHL prospect. He has all the skills to be a top-six NHL forward. Allowing prospects to slowly develop in junior and possibly the minors until they are over ripe is a tried, tested and true practice that should serve Barzal and the Islanders well.
2. Anthony Beauvillier – Center/Left Wing
2015-16: Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Drafted: 28th overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft by New York Islanders
Beauvillier is finding his way in the NHL as a rookie with some highs and lows. While he has been a healthy scratch periodically, he has occasionally found the score sheet in limited ice time. His inclusion on the Islanders roster ahead of Barzal as a 19-year-old is impressive and the pair certainly represent the future of the Islanders.
Beauvillier has tremendous skill and upside; he plays well on both sides of the puck and demonstrates a tremendous compete level. As he gains valuable NHL experience his role and ice time will increase, as will his offensive production.
3. Ryan Pulock – Defence
2015-16: Bridgeport (AHL)
Drafted: 15th overall in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft by New York Islanders
After making his NHL debut last year and seeing 15 games of NHL action, it was hoped that Pulock would make the jump to the NHL full time this year where he would assume a top four role and quarterback the power play. It didn’t happen and he played in just one NHL game and dealt with an injury before being assigned to the AHL again.
His play in the AHL has been solid and he could be recalled to the NHL under the correct circumstances, but at the very least, it is difficult to imagine he won’t be on the Islanders blueline full time next year one way or another.
4. Ilya Sorokin – Goaltender
2015-16: CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Drafted: 78th overall in the third round of the 2104 draft by New York Islanders
The Islanders top goalie prospect is arguably the best goalie prospect in the NHL. His unbelievable KHL stats of 1.06 GAA and .953 save percentage last season were a preview of what’s to come. He is again posting impressive stats in the KHL again this season with a 1.61 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
The Islanders staff must be drooling over the notion of playing him in the starting role. With Thomas Greiss, J-F Berube and Linus Soderstrom in the system, goaltending is a position of strength going forward for the Islanders.
5. Michael Dal Colle – Center/Left Wing
2015-16: Kingston (OHL)
Drafted: 5th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by New York Islanders
In his first full pro season Dal Colle is adjusting to the pace of the AHL and struggling to find the offensive production he enjoyed in junior. In his final season in the OHL he struggled in the first half before a trade to Kingston rejuvenated his production on a strong line with Spencer Watson and Warren Foegele.
At 20-years-old he will be allowed the opportunity to adjust his game to the higher pace in the AHL and then to the NHL as his skill, size and vision are all NHL calibre. Dal Colle will finish the season in the AHL and likely will play another season there before he is a legit threat to make the NHL, and that is not a problem for the Islanders.
6. Adam Pelech – Defence
2015-16: Bridgeport (AHL)
Drafted: 65th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by New York Islanders
Pelech may never achieve the lofty offensive totals he produced in junior, but with his size and skating ability he will almost definitely develop into a top-four NHL defenceman. He was recalled to the NHL recently due to injuries and is close to earning a full time job.
He is a reliable defensive player who provides hits, blocks and defensive reliability. The offense may come in time with an expanded role.
7. Kieffer Bellows – Center/Left Wing
2015-16: Team USA (USHL)
Drafted: 19th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by New York Islanders
Bellows is a power forward with an NHL level shot. He is in his freshman season of NCAA hockey with Boston University and is struggling to score the way he did in the USHL where he scored 50 goals in 62 games.
Bellows did find his game for USA at the WJC scoring two key goals helping the USA win the Gold Medal. The Islanders are in no rush with Bellows and will happily allow him to refine his game in Boston U. and continue to develop size and strength to compliment his power forward game.
8. Linus Soderstrom – Goaltender
2015-16: Vita Hasten (Swe2)
Drafted: 95th overall in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by New York Islanders
Soderstrom is modern day NHL starting goalie. He is a monster at 6-foot-5 athletic goalie with strong fundamental skills and positioning. He has excelled for Sweden internationally and in his first pro season playing for HV71 in the SHL, he is posting career best numbers with an impressive 1.53 GAA and a.937 Sv%.
The good news for Islanders fans to look forward to is a future starting goalie battle between Soderstrom and Sorokin. The bad news is only one can play at a time.
9. Devon Toews – Defence
2015-16: Quinnipiac (NCAA)
Drafted: 108th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by New York Islanders
After signing his pro contract and leaving the NCAA with a Championship on his resume with Quinnipiac, Toews has had an impressive pro debut in Bridgeport. The rookie has produced 27 points in 44 games to date and was named to the AHL All-Star where he won the fastest skater competition.
With so many of the Islanders top prospects stagnant, Toews is the fastest rising prospect in the system and on the verge of passing some big names on the depth chart.
10. Josh Ho-Sang – Center/Right Wing
2015-16: Niagara (OHL)
Drafted: 28th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by New York Islanders
Ho-Sang has the skill and creativity to be one of the top prospects in the NHL. He has good size and skating to compliment his hands and vision. Ho-Sang can set the pace of the play and should be at or near the top of this ranking, but his compete level is often wanting and his commitment or professionalism are holding him back.
With 23 points in 38 games to date this season, he has managed to produce offensive numbers in his first pro season of hockey in the AHL with Bridgeport, but still struggles with other areas of his game, such as defensive play, and discipline. Ho-Sang has been a scratch several times this season for behavioural issues. If he can mature off the ice and round out his game on the ice he will be a top-six NHL forward.