In 2017-18, the New York Islanders inadvertently picked an excellent year to underperform.
Yes, the franchise lost one of its most iconic players in John Tavares, however, the Islanders’ poor performance as a team allowed the franchise to add a trio of insanely talented players to their prospect pool. Holding four choices in the opening two rounds, the Islanders quickly added two promising forwards as well as two excellent defencemen to their organization.
Although all four of which — who we will meet below — remain years away from playing significant roles at the NHL-level, New York’s crop of prospects chosen in the 2018 NHL Draft alone boast the skills, smarts, and size to influence the team’s success in the immediate future.
Stanley Cups: Four
2017-18 Record: 35-37-10; 80 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Mathew Barzal; 22G, 63A, 85PTS
Farm System Grade: A-
Top 10 Prospects:
- Noah Dobson
- Oliver Wahlstrom
- Bode Wilde
- Kieffer Bellows
- Ilya Sorokin
- Linus Soderstrom
- Devon Toews
- Sebastian Aho
- Ruslan Iskhakov
- Michael Dal Colle
The State of the Islanders’ Farm System
Defending has long been the Islanders’ main area of weakness.
In fact, over their past five seasons of play, New York has allowed 1227 goals against — the third most of any NHL franchise in that period of time. Allowing 2.99 goals against per game of late, the Islanders’ inability to keep the puck out of their own net has hindered the organization’s ability to make significant headway in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fortunately for New York, the franchise now boasts four excellent young defenders who should help to stabilize the team’s blue line for years to come.
Of the lot, no Islanders defence prospect is more promising than Noah Dobson. Nabbed by New York with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Dobson is a sizeable and smooth-skating defender who graces the ice with both poise and confidence on a nightly basis. Standing 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds, Dobson’s size allows him to play a shutdown role while his offensive instincts have morphed the youngster into a steady two-way threat.
Although he likely won’t play for New York at the NHL-level until at least the 2019-20 season, Dobson has all the makings of a top-pairing defenceman.
In addition to Dobson, the Islanders possess Bode Wilde — a second-round choice of the team in the 2018 NHL Draft who will also play a major role in the near future. At 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Wilde is an intimidating defender who knows how to use his size to his advantage. Willing to throw his weight around yet also a strong offensive player, Wilde too plays a quality all-around game and one which should ensure his presence at the NHL-level.
Further, add Devon Toews and Sebastian Aho to the mix, and New York suddenly boasts a bludgeoning blue line poised for greatness.
Adding further strength to the Islanders’ farm system are forwards Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows — two snipers who love to score goals.
Wahlstrom, New York’s 11th-overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft, is a driven forward with an excellent release who will shoot the puck from seemingly anywhere. Boasting a strong and heavy shot, Wahlstrom has a nose for the net and can score either from a distance or in-close to the goal. Then, in Bellows, the Islanders hold a competitive power-forward who strives to make an impact each and every shift.
Outside of these four prospects, New York still holds the likes of goaltenders Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom, as well as Michael Dal Colle — three players who afford the Islanders with ample positional versatility and depth on the ice.
One Islanders Prospect to Watch
With so many excellent young prospects under the control of the Islanders, it is extremely difficult to discuss just one player.
However, let’s take a moment to look into the game of Dobson — as he is arguably the team’s top prospect.
Ahead of the 2014-15 season, Dobson left home at the age of 15-years to further pursue his hockey career. In choosing to leave home, Dobson fully committed himself to his passion and it is a decision which has paid great dividends for both Dobson and his family. After enduring his first season of hockey away from home, Dobson was nabbed by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan with the sixth-overall choice in 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft.
In his two QMJHL seasons which immediately followed, Dobson progressed from a raw teenager into a seasoned and confident threat from the blue line. Willing to walk the blue line and never willing to surrender possession, Dobson has quickly yet quietly become a puck-hound who drives the game at both ends of the ice for his team.
Once again skating for the Titan of the QMJHL in 2018-19, Dobson will enter his third major junior season desperate to dominate his competition. Despite recording 69 points in 67 games played last campaign, expect Dobson to achieve new career-highs across the board while stabilizing and perfecting his defensive game in the process.
Although he likely won’t skate for the Islanders until the 2019-20 season, expect Dobson to stand as a reliable two-way threat once ascended to hockey’s highest level.