The 2018-19 regular season ends next Saturday but before that, it is time to take a look at some of the Islanders’ prospects (Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, Ilya Sorokin) and what they have been up to this year. Have some taken a step forward or backward? Washington won the Stanley Cup last year but still has a pretty good pipeline.
Prospect wise, New York expects a pick somewhere in the late teens and early twenties this year. The Islanders pick just five times in the 2019 NHL Draft. They exchanged picks with the Calgary Flames in the Travis Hamonic deal Below, are the top ten prospects of the New York Islanders.
2018-19 Top 10 New York Islanders Prospects
1. Ilya Sorokin, G – CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Drafted: 22nd overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by New York.
Sorokin is an elite goaltender over in the KHL and has been for a few years now. This season, he played in 40 games for CSKA and again produced top-flight numbers (1.16 goals-against average, .940 save percentage, and 28 wins).
Those numbers are so good that the Islanders have played this game for some time now. Will Sorokin come over at last? New York has his rights for one more year. After that, this becomes anyone’s guess. There is little doubt of his talent but it all comes down to does he want to play in North America. Some think he never will.
2. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW – Boston College (NCAA)
HT/WT: 6-1/ 207
Drafted: 11th overall in the first round of the 2018 draft by New York.
The forward enjoyed solid numbers for Boston College but the Eagles did not make the NCAA tournament. Wahlstrom scored eight times and had 19 points in 36 games as a freshman. However, the player announced that he is leaving Boston College and may head either to the AHL or Europe for next season.
Again, Wahlstrom matured a bit in the second half and his points went up (15 points in the final 23 games). That included a stretch where the right winger had ten points (four goals) in 13 contests. The forward needs to play in a league where he will get top line ice time. Again, will it be Bridgeport or somewhere else? His shot volume was okay at Boston College but was better while playing with the USNTDP. He must get back to that level.
3. Noah Dobson, D – AB Titan and Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Draft: 12th overall in the first round of the 2018 draft by New York.
Dobson was the captain of his team then traded midway to Rouyn-Noranda. It may have been the best thing for him as his numbers took off. The defenseman put six pucks in the net with 30 assists in 28 games. The offense continued in the first few playoff games — with five points in three contests.
Defensively, Dobson still has some aspects to work on like battles near the front of the net. He needs to probably gain some upper-body muscle mass and work a little bit on technique in his own zone. When that catches up to his offense, then look out! The defenseman plays likely in the QMJHL again next season with an eye towards the AHL not too long after.
4. Kieffer Bellows, C/LW – Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)
Drafted: 19th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by New York.
Bellows will take time to develop in the AHL. He followed up a great year in Portland last year with okay numbers in Bridgeport this year. The transition to the AHL has not been the easiest for his offensive game. His ability to battle for pucks has been noted. Bellows forces play by being a bit too over-zealous at times.
His upside is that of a top-six forward. That may fluctuate some but based on what has been seen, Bellows will grow. He is not super quick but can engage in the action quickly enough. Next year expects to be a more dominant year from Bellows when it comes to the offense (20+ goals is not out of the question).
5. Devon Toews, D – Bridgeport (AHL), New York (NHL)
Drafted: 108th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by New York.
The defenseman surprised a lot of pundits and fans alike when he came up and looked as composed as he did. Toews is 25 but was a slow developing defenseman who could move the puck fairly quickly. Also, he showed a knack of racking up points. A 19 point start in 24 games was enough to warrant a call-up. Toews stayed up with the big club and has chipped in 16 points in 43 games. Furthermore, he even sees some power-play time as well.
One of his biggest assets Toews possesses is his ability to make the right play at the right time. Furthermore, he has vaulted himself past Sebastian Aho on the depth chart into a permanent position in New York. Expect him to stay in New York even for the playoffs.
6. Sebastian Aho, D – Bridgeport (AHL), Washington (NHL)
Drafted: 139th overall in the fifth round of the 2017 draft by New York
Aho saw a good run last season up in New York as he played 22 games but only had four points. This season, he has been excellent in Bridgeport. Aho totaled up 40 points in 56 games — taking Devon Toews‘ old position basically.
Furthermore, he gets the minutes that the defenseman would likely not get in New York. This is valuable experience going forward for the young blueliner. It should help him maybe gain a better chance of securing a spot in camp come September. Either way, Aho still is on the way up in his trajectory and another power-play defenseman of the future.
7. Ruslan Iskhakov, RW – University of Connecticut (NCAA)
Drafted: 43rd overall in the second round of the 2018 draft by New York
With a solid season at 18 in the MHL and then internationally, Iskhakov went a different route than most. He ended up at UConn of all places to play college hockey. The freshman adapted well to the North American game with 21 points in 32 games including six goals and increasing shot volume.
The winger shows a dynamic ability to avoid hits yet be able to battle for pucks in corners with some tenacity. He is more of a project than some other prospects. Some will say that is because of his size. Honestly, it is a product of being so raw playing the North American style. He is a quick learner and that will serve him well in college then the pros.
8. Bode Wilde, D – Saginaw (OHL)
Drafted: 41st overall in the second round of the 2018 Draft by New York.
After the last year or so, Wilde bounced back in a big way with Saginaw in the OHL. He totaled 19 goals and 70 points in just 62 games. This came on the heels of a USNTDP year where he had 41 points in 61 contests. One of the biggest things Wilde did this year in Saginaw was cut down on penalties and he hit the net more. The result was more goals and more rebounds — which led to extra points.
Fortunately, the style that Wilde employs does translate well in the NHL as a top-four defenseman. He battles hard for pucks plus carries the puck well, and has one of the hardest shots among prospects in the pipeline. The question is how long will it take him to get there. As we said, expect him to be much higher than the list here. Depth-chart wise, the defensive position will take some time to crack as far as making the NHL roster.
9. Mitchell Vande Sompel, D – Bridgeport (AHL)
Drafted: 82nd overall in the third round of the 2015 Draft by New York.
Vande Sompel broke out last year with Bridgeport and had 29 points in 58 games. The expectation was a step forward but instead, the defenseman stayed at the same level. His 27 points in 62 games were disappointing but he is only 22. The encouraging aspect of his game is that Vande Sompel is growing — he is around 195 pounds now and can throw his weight around a bit.
Also, his defense has improved which was a big knock during Islanders’ training camp this year. It is not the +/- but the all-around game which has garnered attention. Vande Sompel could turn some heads next season in camp for New York. However, he has to battle a crowded depth chart full of potentially good fits for the Islanders.
10. Parker Wotherspoon, D – Bridgeport (AHL)
Drafted: 112th overall in the fourth round of the 2015 draft by New York
Wotherspoon presents as a victim of the numbers game. He is better than most of the lower-end prospect forwards that the Islanders have. The problem is climbing past all those defensemen. He enjoyed a slight uptick in offense with 23 points in 57 games this year.
The defenseman has a long way to go in development and that is just fine for the Islanders. They possess many blueliners on the depth chart that can play sooner. Wotherspoon will get his turn but this will take time. He likely is a year or two away from a real chance at making the New York Islanders.