|Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings)|
There isn't any question that the New York Islanders have amassed a nice pool of talented prospects as they try to restore the franchise to a winning one. Not going to talk about those who will be headed to Bridgeport of the AHL but that team will be extremely talented this year.
To me the biggest issue with the Islanders is their development of their prospects as at times it can be suspect. Yes I admit I am a fan of Nino Niederreiter and there is no question in my mind that the Islanders royally screwed up developing him. Nino is gone but he should be a poster child to remind the Islanders to have a solid plan to develop each prospect regardless of if he is the 5th pick or the 500th.
2012 Draft Class
Griffin Reinhart (1st 5th overall) is going to be the best Islander defenseman just not this season as the Islanders have too many defenders on NHL contracts to be able to afford to waive them to the AHL. Reinhart can work on adding offense back in the WHL which he really does need more of. Send him back to the WHL also means that Reinhart would be a lock for Team Canada's Under-20 team which I would expect Reinhart to be one of the leaders on.
Reinhart will be an Islander next year but it won't hurt to polish his game more.
Adam Pelech (3rd 65th) returns to the Erie Otters where he really needs more maturity to his overall game. Pelech brings good size and skill to the blueline but he just didn't think on a couple of occasions and that hurt both Pelech and his teammates. Erie is an up and coming team that needs a strong leader and if Pelech fills that role then everyone will win.
Pelech should join Reinhart on Team Canada.
Loic Leduc (4th 103rd) lost most of last season to injury and sadly also has the bad luck of playing on the hapless Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL. So far Leduc looks improved over his last couple of seasons. Very much a project because of his 6'6 size but worth taking the chance on.
I want to see Leduc play a more physical game using his size more than he has been.
Doyle Somerby (5th 125th) like Leduc is a huge defender at 6'5-6'6 and also seen as a bit of a project. The biggest difference is Somerby is heading to Boston University of the Hockey East. 4 years there under legendary coach Jack Parker will go a very long way in determining whether Somerby is prospect or pretender.
Somerby also needs to work on adding a more physical dimension to his game.
Jesse Graham (5th 155th) is a defender who I wish the Islanders and the Niagara IceDogs would convert to a forward. Graham has solid skating skills as well as some pretty good offensive skills which would be easy to transfer to playing forward. His smallish 5'11 frame makes him a longshot to make the NHL as a defender especially given the glut the Islanders at the position.
Graham's Niagara IceDogs are in rebuild mode which could lead to Graham traded at mid-season to a playoff contender.
Jake Bischoff (7th 185th) is a prospect who I did not get to see play last season but all who I talked with said his upside is his offensive skills. Bischoff is headed to Minnesota which alone says something because the Golden Gophers are expecting him to contribute as a freshman on defense.
Not the biggest dog in the pound at 6' and wish I could tell you more but I can not at the moment.
2013 Draft Class
Ryan Pulock (1st 15th) is a solid pick as the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings is a strong 2 way player who can do some damage at both ends of the ice. Pulock was tied for the team scoring lead last year as the rebuilding Wheat Kings are expected to be a playoff contender. The Islanders could find themselves with 3 defensive prospects on Team Canada.
Somebody forgot to tell Pulock that 18 year olds are not supposed to be as poised and mature as he is. Expect Pulock to make a lot of noise this year.
Eamon McAdam (3rd 70th) is a goalie who is heading to Penn State for his college career. McAdam comes to Penn State via the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL where he did not put up stellar numbers last year 17-9-3 3.45 GAA and a 0.896 save percentage. I think the Islanders made a better pick when they took Stephon Williams in the 4th round.
Taylor Cammarata (3rd 76th) is a 5'7 forward who is headed to Minnesota to play with Jake Bischoff. Cammarata is one of those players who scouts will preface their statements with "if he was taller,,," because if he was 6'2 then nobody would question his potential. But at 5'7 expect to see a ton of those statements despite Cammarata having a ton of offensive skill.
Stephon Williams (4th 106th) is also a goalie who used to play for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL but he is a year ahead of Eamon McAdam and plays for Minnesota State of the WCHA. He is coming off a solid freshman season where he was 21-12-2 2.00 GAA with a 0.924 save percentage. It makes you wonder why the Islanders drafted both he and McAdam.
William's play in goal was a huge reason why Minnesota State went from 12-24-2 in 2011-2012 to 24-4-3 in 2012-2013.
Viktor Crus-Rydberg (5th 136th) to quote Elite Prospects says that Crus-Rydberg is a
Crus Rydberg is a very smart and skilled playmaker. Impressive hockey sense and passing ability. Stickhandles well through heavy traffic and makes room for himself and his teammates. Not a natural goal scorer, but has a good release. Two-way ability is good. Should work on his consistency, acceleration and skating, a bit, although it is not a major concern.
That said, Crus-Rydberg will be playing for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL which is a good place for him. Plymouth is a solid program in the OHL who is an annual contender for the OHL championship. Crus-Rydberg will see plenty of icetime for the Whalers.
Alan Quine (6th 166th) is a re-entry pick as Quine was originally selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2011 draft (3rd 85th) but was not signed. Quine IF he is returned to the OHL will play for the Belleville Bulls the team he joined at mid-season last year. Quine would be an overage player if he returns to Belleville who will give the Bulls a serious goal scorer.
Quine is a proven goal scorer who as an overager should put up at least 30-40 goals.
Kyle Burroughs (7th 196th) is a smallish defender who gives you a little of everything from offense to a willingness to drop the gloves despite being just 5'11. The question with Burroughs on a rebuilding Regina Pats team is can he build off a strong 2nd half? Regina will need him to do that if they want to have any hope of making the playoffs in a tough WHL's Eastern Conference.
2011 Draft Class
Robbie Russo (4th 95th) will be entering his junior season at Notre Dame and it is time for Russo to have a breakout season if he wants an Islander contract down the line. Russo has solid offensive skills but now he needs to turn them up on a consistent basis. Anders Lee took his 20 goals to the Islanders and that was a big chunk of Notre Dame's offense last season.
4 out of the 5 goals Russo scored last season were on the power play with 2 being game winners. Notre Dame needs at least 15 goals out of Russo in order to compete in the powerful Hockey East.