Yesterday, we ranked tiers four and five in the Islanders Prospect Pyramid. Welcome back for tiers one, two and three!
These players have a high ceiling with the potential to make an impact. The first player is Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin, 24, is continuing to dominate the KHL. He has an 8-1-1 record with a 1.37 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage with two shutouts. His contract with CSKA Moscow expires after this season, and there is speculation that part of the reason that the Islanders signed Semyon Varlamov was to convince him to come over this offseason. I believe there is no reason not to, so I would expect him to sign an entry-level contract with the Islanders after this season.
Kieffer Bellows, 21, was the Islanders’ first-round selection in 2016 and has stood out as a key contributor for the Sound Tigers. He put up 12 goals and 19 points last season, but he came up clutch in the playoffs, scoring two goals and adding an assist in five games. He has looked strong so far in the AHL this year, and I believe we will see him in an impact role in the NHL sooner than later.
Otto Koivula had a breakout season in the AHL at the age of 20. He finished the 2018-19 season with 21-25-46 in 63 games, and he also solidified the first-line center spot on the Sound Tigers. He opened the season this year in that same role and has one assist in two games.
Mitch Vande Sompel. The dynamic skating defenseman is entering his third season with Bridgeport, but he suffered a shoulder injury in camp and is currently out to start the year. Vande Sompel has put up decent numbers in the AHL with 17-43-60 in 128 regular-season games. If you want to read more about Vande Sompel and two other defensemen that need to have a “make-or-break” season, you can read that article here.
Simon Holmström was picked 23rd overall in 2019 and has displayed his speed and power on the ice. He had seven goals and 20 points in 21 SuperElit games last season, and he will need to mature in the AHL before he becomes a regular on Long Island.
Bode Wilde put up dominant numbers in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit last season with 19-51-70 in 62 games. He has dealt with a high-ankle sprain to start the year. On Thursday, he was assigned to the Sound Tigers, so he must be close to returning.
Ruslan Iskhakov was picked two selections after Wilde, and he had a strong season with the UConn Huskies last year. He only played 32 games due to being part of a nasty hit early in the season last year, and he tallied 6-15-21 in those 32 games. He is playing at UConn again this year, and most definitely needs more time before becoming an option for the Islanders.
There are two players in the Islanders’ prospect pool that fit the mold of “high potential, high ceiling”. The first of the two is the one who made the team out of training camp in defenseman Noah Dobson.
Dobson, 19, tallied 39-108-147 in 186 regular-season games and 11-36-47 in 51 playoff games with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He impressed in his NHL debut versus the Edmonton Oilers, and many people believe that he is on the track to be an everyday NHL defenseman as early as next season.
The other of the two first-round picks in 2018 is the right-winger Oliver Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom, 19, was selected 11th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft and has had an interesting year-and-a-half. He started last year at Boston College (8-11-19 in 36 games), but then left and signed his entry-level contract with the Islanders, reporting to Bridgeport where he became the youngest Sound Tiger to score in the regular season, scoring two goals and adding one assist in five games.
He then played the entire playoff series, tallying 2-2-4. He impressed in the preseason as well as in his NHL debut on Columbus Day against the St. Louis Blues.
The first tier is for the “cream of the crop”. I know there may be some debates over which prospects can be described as that, but the answer is NO ONE. If we were doing this a few years ago, Mat Barzal would be top tier, but when it comes to the current system, there are no players that are generational talents.
Thank you for following along with our Islanders Prospect Pyramid!