Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:
Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:With the Islanders about halfway through training camp and the players to be separated in into NHL and AHL squads in the coming days, it’s a good time to take a look at how the Isles prospects have been performing.And what better way to do it than through power rankings… For this exercise, we’re going to limit the players to players drafted by the Islanders who are currently at camp.
Brock Nelson – In my book, Nelson is the leading candidate to garner a roster spot. He seems to be favored a bit by management given his playoff appearance last season and has earned a long look on the penalty kill, a unit that was expected to have Cal Clutterbuck. He’s probably the most all-around player on the list, so we’ll give him the edge over…
Ryan Strome – He is going to make it a really tough decision as to which forward the team takes, and that’s if we assume they only take one. He’s all there offensively and has shown some flashes, but is his two-way game enough to not be a liability? And is he only going to make the team if he is deemed ready for a top-six position? Quite possibly.
Griffin Reinhart – The 19-year old has impressed at Islanders camp thus far and played in three-of-four preseason games. He’s scored a goal in Calgary and set up some nice offensive chances; one in Saturday’s third period comes to mind. Reinhart has also been tough in his own zone defensively. He’ll get a nine game look, that almost seems certain at this point assuming it makes sense for the roster size. But will he be good enough to force the Islanders to keep him for 82? It would be a nice surprise but it’s hard to say at this point.
Matt Donovan – Has had the inside track for the open defensive spot since Garth Snow said as much over the summer. There hasn’t been much to disprove this, as he’s been paired with Andrew MacDonald at camp.
Calvin de Haan – It may be a numbers game on the defensive side, but it appears de Haan could be on the outside looking in. Staple notes that he, along with de Haan and Reinhart, could be in the NHL pool of players this week. There’s probably one too many players in front of him to make the roster out of camp, but he would likely be the first call up over the winter, depending on how things shake out with the two defenders above him.
Anders Lee – The third player on the top prospect line with Nelson and Strome. Lee is a good player in his own right and knocked in a couple points in New Jersey last week. The line seems to have great chemistry but on a personal level Lee is still a step behind the two first round picks. His defensive game also needed a lot of improvement, and it’s tough to say if that aspect of his game has gotten there yet. He could be another mid-season call up depending on how the injury bug goes.
Kevin Poulin – He has looked OK, not great, in his preseason game situations. With Nilsson possibly being set back by last season’s injuries, Poulin could get the backup job by default. But it’s hard to tell…
Anders Nilsson – …because yesterday, Nilsson got a full 60-minute start. We should give him credit for allowing only two goals on 25 shots, probably the best full-game performance of any Isles goalie in the preseason in terms of statistics. But it was only one game and the other problem is that the game was in Nashville and wasn’t broadcast, so no one outside of the arena got a look at him. It’s hard to say where he is physically. We’re in the dark on this one and anyone who tells you different is either a scout or selling some snake oil.
Andrey Pedan – Is a big bodied defender who has been using his size well in preseason thus far. He’s still going to need some time and will start the year in the AHL. Hopefully this time next year he’ll be making a push.
Johan Sundstrom – Got back-to-back action this weekend, so the staff clearly likes his game more than some of the players below him on this list. Unfortunately for him, he’s still way down the depth chart at this point.
Kirill Kabanov – Despite a grueling off-season regimen with Gary Roberts, Kabanov has not been seen seen during the Islanders last three preseason games after less than 9 minutes ice time during split-squad in Calgary. He’s clearly fallen out of favor and will certainly be starting in the AHL this season.
Aaron Ness – He’s another player who hasn’t been seen since the split-squad dates against the Flames. He’ll be in Bridgeport during the season and at the end of the year, unless something drastically changes, will likely be in Europe.