ESPN released their comprehensive evaluation of the prospects in the system for each NHL team, and the New York Islanders have some talented forwards that could break into the lineup this season.
Before diving in, let’s define a prospect as any player who has played less than 25 games in an NHL season and/or less than 50 NHL games total. Goalies won’t be included on this list, they’ll get their own ranking.
The Islanders have some really impressive looking prospects that could bolster New York's forward corps for the 2017/18 season.
Mathew Barzal, Center
The Coquitlam, BC native was taken 16th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and has been turning heads in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds ever since. The 20-year-old plays hard and fast and is an expert at controlling the puck when he’s on the ice. He scored 10 goals and 69 assists in 41 games in the WHL last season and is projected to make the Islanders’ roster come October. A budding top-six forward for sure.
Josh Ho-Sang, Center/Right Wing
If Ho-Sang can stay consistent, he’s an NHL tier talent for sure. When the 6’0, 172-pound forward is hot, he’s hot. He was good playing well enough to get 21 games with the Islanders last season, and he managed 4 goals and 10 points, along with his AHL totals of 10 goals and 36 points in 50 games. Unfortunately, issues keeping his game at that level might hold him back, but his puck handling and speed give him a ton of potential to be a major asset for the Islanders in the near future.
Kieffer Bellows, Left Wing
The 19-year-old power forward was the Islanders first-round draft pick in 2016 and spent last season playing in the NCAA for Boston University. He managed 7 goals and 14 points in 34 games, along with 30 penalty minutes. AT 6’, 201-pounds he’s a big body that shoots hard and hits even harder. The knocks against him are his speed and play away from the puck, liabilities that saw him sitting on the bench more than he should have been. Still, he showed an exciting potential upside with his play at the World Juniors, and could be a real diamond in the rough.
What does this mean for 2017-18?
While Ho-Sand has the most NHL experience with 21 games, it’s probably Barzal that’s worth getting the most excited for. Both players should be regulars in the Islanders lineup this season, and the Islanders also have a crop of other young prospects that could break into the NHL, including Michael Dal Colle, Ryan Pulock, David Quenneville and Robin Salo. Expect lots of bright young talent to be making their NHL debuts with the Islanders.
The Islanders missed the playoffs by a single point last season, if these young players can live up to their potential it could mean a return to the post-season for the Brooklyn-based New York franchise.