Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Islander's Prospect Report (Part 1)

Doing a recap about how the New York Islander prospects quite honestly is a "no-win" situation for us because Ranger fans do not want to see it here while many an Islander fan think our Ranger background creates a bias.

Not going to try to convince anyone about why or how we cover the Islander prospects but we do wish to make one thing clear. We want the Islanders to get better for a true rivalry does not happen until you meet in the playoffs.

The sport wins when the Rangers and Islanders face each other in the playoffs and we do look forward to that day.

As for the Islander prospects, what was a very quiet yet productive first half was turned upside down when Corey Trivino (2008 2nd) was arrested and kicked off the Boston University hockey team. Now Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) is being investigated by the OHL after being accused of using racial slurs in a game.

Injuries and losing streaks also hurt the causes of a couple of Islander prospects so we are going to do things different for the Islander prospects than we did the Rangers.

First Half MVP- Brock Nelson (2010 1st)

Others had more goals, others had more points but when we look at the Islander future then we can't help but to look at Brock Nelson (2010 1st) of North Dakota. The 6'4 200 lb sophomore forward has repeatedly shown us how big an improvement Nelson has made in the last year.

In 18 games Nelson has already surpassed his numbers from last season in goals (14), points (22) and power play goals (9). In fact Nelson currently leads the NCAA in power play goals and is 16th overall in scoring.

We are watching the breaking out of a power forward who can use his size as well as his skill to his advantage. Niederreiter is more flashy and Strome more productive but Nelson will be more of a big game player than they will be.

2011 Class

Ryan Strome (1)- Strome since being returned to the Niagara IceDogs has been the most consistent scorer for the Islander prospects. Strome had a 13 game scoring streak (11-9-25) to start his OHL season and a 16-17-33 overall mark.

It took a while but Strome and his IceDogs are contenders for the OHL Eastern Conference championship. Strome is going to start his 2nd half with Team Canada so it is very doubtful that he will match is 33-73-106.

For us what Strome has to do to have a winning season then he has to learn from last year's disappointment in the OHL Eastern Conference Finals. Strome was shut down and Niagara was eliminated real fast so show us you learned Ryan.

Scott Mayfield (2)- Well here is where we will get Islander fans mad because on draft day, we felt that the Islanders should have taken Ryan Strome's teammate Dougie Hamilton was the better pick over Strome.

Nothing against Mayfield but he is suffering from growing pains this year as a freshman so if you don't have patience then you will not like Mayfield. His Denver Pioneers are like the Islanders in goal, someone is always getting hurt (Denver is playing their 3rd string) which puts a lot of pressure on a freshman.

This season is going to be rough for Mayfield so the best hope for him is to soak in everything he can and not try to speed his own development up. Down the road this season will help him even if it may not look that way now.

Andrey Pedan (3)- OK here is a prospect who we have to honestly say disappoints us with his play. You can see there is skill there to go along with his nice size but his play so far has to be called underwhelming for the Guelph Storm.

Offensively Pedan should be better than he is (6-12-18) as he has been inconsistent which is also the way Pedan has been defensively. The one area where Pedan just loses points with us is penalties as Pedan has 31 minors in 29 games.

More frustrating is here is your starting defenseman and he had a streak of 9 games where he took a penalty in each game (penalties in 20 out of 29 games). Add in the OHL investigation that we mentioned earlier and Pedan is going to have a lot on his plate in the second half.

Robbie Russo (4th)- Now here is a bright spot among the 2011 draft class as we have liked what we have seen from the Notre Dame freshman. He has stepped in and stepped up with his play as we see a player who should eventually help the Islanders.

Smooth skater not afraid to get his nose dirty despite only being 5'11 185 and we see him helping Notre Dame as they make a push for a NCAA tournament spot. Want to see Russo jump into the play more as we think he can double his point output (3-6-9) with no problem.

Put some weight on Russo and he is going to help the Islander power play down the road.

John Persson (5th)- Here was the prospect who was running away the Islander prospect MVP until injuries, illnesses (him) and suspensions just wiped out his Red Deer Rebels. Despite only 2 goals in his last 15 games, Persson still leads the Islander prospects in scoring with a 13-23-36 and get him some support and the goals will start flowing again.

We really like Persson as he could be a nice steal pick as he has size 6'2 215 to go along with some nice offensive skills. Persson has the skill set to give a reliable 15-20 goals in a season which makes him 2nd-3rd line material but adding another bigger forward to a pool of playmakers is always a plus.

If Red Deer can regain the form of November then put Persson down for 30-35 goals and 70 points.

Brendan Kichton (5)- Kichton is the kind of player a coach will like as you know that you will get steady production out of night in and night out. The Spokane Chief defenseman is not flashy and is not going to make Sportscenter with his game but want to guess who is the 2nd leading scorer among WHL defenseman?

6-26-32 in a league that is going to see as many as 5 defensemen drafted in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft. His goal scoring is down and we want to see that stat worked on in the 2nd half if his Spokane Chiefs have any hope of surviving the first round of the WHL playoffs in the Western Conference.

Not going to see the 80 points like Kichton put up last season but 65-70 is fair and reasonable expectation for the 6 ft defender. Want to see better acceleration out of his skating too.

Mitchell Theoret (7th)- Here is what every team really needs and that is a guy who you can plug in almost everywhere depending on the situation. A teammate of Ryan Strome's who has found himself on more than 1 occasion being on the same line.

Got off to a good start then for reasons that escape us went on this 12 game scoreless streak where Theoret could not buy a point.  Take those 12 games and all of a sudden Theoret is having a decent season already equally career highs in goals with 9.

Had to project him as an NHLer right now but we can see why the Islanders rolled the dice on him with their 7th and who knows the season is not over. Top 6 forward? No not really but a penalty killer who could chip in the odd goal here and there maybe.

We did not include Johan Sundstrom (2nd) because we did not get any independent confirmation reports on him BUT we consider a reliable source so here is what they say about him:

A center, that can also play wing. Sundström has very good size, strength and speed. Has nice hands and hockey sense. Doesn't mind going into high-traffic areas. Is very well-rounded. Has tremendous reach. Pretty good release. Some consistency issues.

We expect to see Sundstrom play for Sweden at the 2012 World Under-20 Championships so we will find out something then.

(Nelson- NHL Media)

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