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10. Bobo Carpenter, center
Undrafted free agent (2019)
2019-20 (w/Bridgeport): 28 GP, 4-8-12
It seemed that Carpenter, a good college free-agent pickup in the spring, might lose the entire season after surgery last summer cost him all of development and training camp, as happened with Bode Wilde. But the 23-year-old worked his way back in December and into a consistent role, opening some eyes along the way. He’s never going to be a huge pro scorer, but he could become a fourth-liner in the NHL if things break properly.
“He embraced his role — a hard-nosed, 200-foot center who uses that work ethic to generate offense,” Thompson said. “Probably one of our most consistent forwards because you know what you’re getting night in and night out. Keeping the game simple, bringing energy every night, and when he was physical, he was a force.”
“Not a guy you’d think you’d notice, but I saw him a couple times and he stood out,” one scout said. “He won a ton of faceoffs, which isn’t easy as a rookie in the AHL. He was out there on the PK. You can see the work ethic. That’s going to help him.”
9. Mitch Vande Sompel, defenseman
82nd overall, 2015
2019-20: Did not play
It’s hard to know if Vande Sompel would be higher on this list had he played this season, but an arm injury suffered the first days of training camp turned out to be season-ending for the 23-year-old who showed some promise in 2018-19, his second pro season. He has the high-end offensive skills to play in today’s NHL, but can he do enough other good things in his own end to reach the top level, especially with the defense-first Islanders? And how much will missing an entire year set him back?
“I still like him a lot,” one scout said. “They missed him in Bridgeport this year. He could have had a big role with (Devon) Toews gone.”
8. Sebastian Aho, defenseman
139th overall, 2017
2019-20 (w/Bridgeport): 49 GP, 3-27-30
He established himself as Bridgeport’s top defenseman in his third pro season and earned a few call-ups, but zero NHL games. On the heels of a mediocre training camp, there’s definitely a question as to whether he can maintain his “next in line” status beyond this season. It’s now been two straight seasons under new management in which Aho hasn’t gotten into an NHL game despite three straight AHL All-Star appearances.
“Sebby is a very confident guy with his skill set,” Thompson said. “He knows what he needs to do to be successful, practice habits are tight. Just continue to get stronger — if he does that, he can help an NHL team. He defends pretty well with his stick and good positioning, there are times with his body where it’s 50-50. But he was one of our best defensemen all year. If I look at the whole season, he was inconsistent early on because he was pushing to do too much. Once he was back to his regular game, he was fine; that’s why he got called up. Puck moving, vision are definitely NHL-level.”
“He’s a great power-play guy, he always seems to get his shot through,” one AHL coach said. “That’s a real skill at any level. The size can hold him back a little.”
“This next year will be big for him,” said a scout. “You look at some of the undersized guys in the league, a guy like Matt Grzelcyk, it was a few years out from his draft year before he really established himself. So (Aho), you know he has the offense to play in the NHL, but with that team, is it his size or is it numbers? You already have (Nick) Leddy and Toews on the left side — how many so-called skill guys can you have in your six?”
7. Grant Hutton, defenseman
Undrafted free agent (2019)
2019-20 (w/Bridgeport): 55 GP, 6-15-21
There’s a lot to like in Hutton’s game, even if it wasn’t always evident in his first full pro season. The size, the big shot and a very smooth skating stride for a big man — Hutton has great tools and doesn’t seem that far off from putting them together.
“What stands out right away, he’s got the plus size, moves really well for his size and good sense and feel with the puck,” a scout said. “Maybe leans a little more towards the offensive side. He made a lot of strides in year one but you have to get more well-rounded and start to use his size to his advantage. He’s on the right track as a prospect if he can do that.”
“I have a lot of time for him,” another scout said. “You love to see a big kid like that who moves as well as he does.”
“It was a good season, but probably not good enough,” Thompson said. “Inconsistency at times, but I really like his potential. He’s a big, big body, and we have a lot of those back there. He skates extremely well, can make a good outlet pass, good shot. He got himself in trouble with intensity — a little casual at times with and without the puck, the physical engagement needed to be there. He skates so well for a big man; he skates well for a small guy, too. Especially the last third of the season, he really found his game, he became a much more solid defenseman. What made him a lot better was his intensity level with and without the puck.”
6. Otto Koivula, center
120th overall, 2016
2019-20 (w/Islanders): 12 GP, 0-0-0
(w/Bridgeport): 36 GP, 9-13-22
The numbers weren’t as pronounced as they were in Koivula’s surprising first pro season, but the 21-year-old center still progressed, getting the most NHL games of any call-up this season. His first Islander games were cautious, but all of the talent evaluators who chimed in see Koivula as a skilled bottom-six option, given his size and hockey IQ. That’s an easier way to break in than needing to get top-six minutes.
“The good news for him, he doesn’t just have to play in the scoring role to make it,” a scout said. “He’s got the plus size and he did score a lot as a rookie, but you can slot him into your bottom six and he’s really well-rounded. He was honestly around the puck as much as he was the year before. I see him as a guy who will make it as a checker but can contribute offense, like (Casey) Cizikas does. And you love to have that size, especially up the middle. And he’s so young, still only 21-22, and now he’s got some NHL experience.”
“Now he’s learning to play against better defenders and shutdown lines,” Thompson said. “A new challenge for him and I expect even more next year. He has high offensive instincts, he knows what to do defensively. A lot of times when you go up and come back down, the focus isn’t as sharp. And a lot of players want to play safe when they get called up. They want to make sure coaches can trust him. At times he was a little safe, but I thought he did some good things when he was up there. Definitely a different role from when he’s with us. But you’ve got a second year guy going to the NHL and he did a great job. If he comes in in unbelievable shape, works hard, the sky’s the limit for him.
5. Kieffer Bellows, left wing
19th overall, 2016
2019-20 (w/Islanders): 8 GP, 2-1-3
(w/Bridgeport): 52 GP, 22-9-31
Of all the players on this list, none took as big a step forward as Bellows. His first pro season did not give off “future NHLer” vibes, with just 12 goals in 73 games; one goal in his first 19 games this season didn’t help either. But after a couple of healthy scratches around Thanksgiving, Bellows turned it around — so much so that his eight-game stint with the Islanders didn’t slow him down.
“After (being scratched), he understood the value of working every shift,” Thompson said. “You saw him go up, did a nice job and he’ll be fighting for a spot. The way he finished — take away the first 20 games — 200-foot, reliable player, won his battles, defensively responsible. That’s what Barry wants. It’s more consistency for him. Getting him to believe in consistent focus the entire game. As a younger kid, there’s distractions in a game — bad calls, cheap shots — there’s always adversity. How you handle that shows your maturity. Early in the year he was letting some little things distract him, starting with the lack of production, and then it’s referees, etc. But he took huge steps in consistency and being mentally focused.”
“You know last year was a tough year for him,” one scout said. “The start of this year was tough for him, too. It’s not that unusual, especially with one year of college, one year in the Western League. It’s probably one of the bigger challenges on the development side is convincing these 18 and 19 year old guys that the American League is really hard when their sights are set on the NHL. You’re trying to prove your draft status and you end up digging yourself a bigger hole. That’s where the coaching staff and the development staff get credit — you keep him on the power play, on the top two lines and then he starts to show why you drafted him where you did.
“When you saw him in the NHL, you were comfortable his skating was going to be fine there. That’s the biggest takeaway. The hands and the skill are there, but he made the biggest strides of any prospect maybe from Thanksgiving on.”
4. Simon Holmstrom, left wing
23rd overall, 2019
2019-20 (w/Bridgeport): 46 GP, 8-7-15
“The most important thing to remember when watching this kid,” one scout said, “is he was the youngest kid in the entire league! You can’t make any decisions about someone that young. You just can’t. It’s all about the experience for him at this point.”
And Holmstrom showed flashes of why the Islanders picked him in the first round last June, well ahead of where he stood in most projections. The final numbers weren’t overly impressive, but compare him to Klim Kostin, the 31st pick of the 2017 draft by the Blues who chose to stay in North America and play in the AHL as an 18-year-old.
Kostin, like Holmstrom a winger with skill and decent size, had 6-22-28 in 67 games with AHL San Antonio in 2017-18, then went 10-14-24 in 66 games in 18-19. He got his first call-up to St. Louis this past season and should battle for a regular spot next season.
Holmstrom’s timeline should be similar, barring a big breakout next year — which may come back in Sweden, given the uncertain status of the season. Staying in Sweden to play for HV71 may end up being the right call with the pandemic throwing every level of hockey into chaos at this point.
“The fact he got drafted in June and went right to the American League makes him so unique,” the scout said. “It’s going to be time, not rushing him, getting him that exposure, playing with good players. Next year could be more of the same, you have to be ready for that.”
3. Oliver Wahlstrom, right wing
11th overall, 2018
2019-20 (w/Islanders): 9 GP, 0-0-0
(w/Bridgeport): 45 GP, 10-12-22
It wasn’t a dominant year for the 19-year-old, but in an ideal world he would have been a sophomore at Boston College and prepping for a jump to the pros next season — or even into whatever form the remainder of the 2019-20 NHL season takes.
But that’s old news. Wahlstrom made his choice, the Islanders made theirs and the bumps were expected, even though the big winger can boast he still hasn’t lost an NHL game in regulation as the Isles went 8-0-1 with Wahlstrom in their lineup.
“What I liked, aside from the skill and the shooter’s mentality, the confidence he can score,” a scout said. “I liked how his game became more well-rounded as the season went on. He had to move his feet more, stay in the flow of the game and I thought he competed harder from seeing him early on. Not just relying on scoring from the outside, but getting to the inside. He’s a big, strong kid, strong on the puck, one of those guys from the top of the circle down, it’s tough to get the puck off him. He showed he’s a top-six player in the American League as a 19 year old, which is really rare. I wouldn’t rush to judge him because of the age — 95 out of 100 times those guys take the extra year in college. He’s on the right track and they’ve got to feel good about where he’s at.”
“I thought, you look at the whole season, big picture, he would want more goals, but what I thought he did well was being better away from the puck,” Thompson said. “And understanding situations — if it’s one-on-three, you don’t need to try and beat everyone. His work ethic was consistently better as the year went on. When he started shooting a bit more at the end of the year, he produced more. He’s 19 years old and he’s in a serious league. I expect big things for him next year. He’ll have a bigger impact offensively for sure.
“I think he is figuring it out. There are times where he looks to make an extra move to get closer, rather than not one-timing a puck. It was, ‘Hey, you can be selfish. When you can get a puck to the net, you do it.’ Away from the puck it’s a work in progress, and it will continue to be.”
One scout compared Wahlstrom to Joel Farabee, who was selected three picks after Wahlstrom by the Flyers and also turned pro last season. Farabee played 52 NHL games this season.
“Just the consistency thing — that’s the biggest difference between him and Farabee,” the scout said. “Farabee brings it every game. You see the different players you’d worry about as a coach. When I saw (Wahlstrom), I didn’t think I’d have to worry about him.”
2. Noah Dobson, defenseman
12th overall, 2018
2019-20 (w/Islanders): 34 GP, 1-6-7
OK, OK, you don’t normally see guys who play a full NHL season on the prospects list. But Dobson is a special case. His NHL season was a reluctant one, in which the plan seemed to be that Dobson would have played barely 30 games if everyone ahead of him on the depth chart had been healthy.
When Adam Pelech went down for the season with an Achilles’ tendon injury on Jan. 2, Dobson was into the lineup — albeit mostly on the left side, where he wouldn’t normally play. And he got over 17 minutes in a game just four times.
But even with all those shackles, Dobson impressed plenty of observers.
“Love him,” one pro scout said. “He’s got so much upside — a kid that can skate like him, move the puck like him, has that ability to recover when he’s looking for the offense. For his age, he showed a lot of poise. He’s a top, top prospect, has that 2-3 potential. Could very easily be a top-pair guy in the next few years.”
1. Ilya Sorokin, goalie
78th overall, 2014
2019-20 (w/CSKA Moscow): 40 GP, 26-10-3, .935 save pct., 1.50 GAA
Dec. 27, 2014 is a date to remember. That night marked the last time an Islander-drafted goalie started a game for them (it was Kevin Poulin, by the way). Sorokin had also been drafted six months earlier and was just embarking on his successful six-year run with CSKA Moscow, one of the top KHL clubs.
By the time you read this, Sorokin could finally be an Islander — at least for next season, whenever that may happen. The pandemic will delay the arrival of the Isles’ potential cornerstone goalie, but six years after he was drafted it will finally happen. And, given what Sorokin’s good friend Igor Shesterkin did in his first season with the Rangers, Sorokin’s arrival in North America means even more now than it might have a few years ago.
In the Garth Snow era, Sorokin was talked about privately as the one prospect who could change the Isles’ future. We’re about to see if that still holds.[img][/img]
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Последний раз редактировалось: Vasilyev (Среда, 06 Май 2020 17:22:03), всего редактировалось 2 раз(а)