This summer we’ll be ranking all the prospects in the Isles’ organization from top to bottom. The goal is to give you a picture of who is in the pipeline, what their chances are to someday be on the Islanders roster and to serve as a comprehensive guide for the team’s current talent pool. You can view part one of the list here.
30. Tyler McNeely, F, RFA
25 years old, Bridgeport (AHL)
2011-12 stats: 66G, 9-12-21, +9, 53PIM
When we last left off on the countdown, we discussed McNeely’s teammate Tomas Marcinko. Both are in a similar position with the Sound Tigers, as they have a quickly growing prospect pool of forwards coming up behind them. This was McNeely’s first full season in Bridgeport, and ended up sitting out the first two of Bridgeport’s post-season games in favor of youngsters on ATOs. Leading up to that point, he had only 21 points on the year after an impressive jump to the AHL last season. In 2010-11, McNeely notched 11 points in 10 games at the tail end of the year after jumping from Northeastern University. But at 25 years old, there isn’t a very high ceiling on McNeely. The Islanders should retain him this year, but only as a second or third line contributor in Bridgeport.
29. Marc Cantin, D, 2nd Year of ELC
22 years old, Reading (ECHL), Providence/Bridgeport (AHL)
2011-12 stats: 21G, 0-0-0, -9, 26PIM
Cantin was the other half of the Brian Rolston/Mike Mottau trade from Boston. The Islanders received Yannik Reindeau (#34 on the countdown) and Cantin at the deadline, getting something for nothing. Cantin is certainly the better of the two players and is the kind of physical defenseman that the organization sorely needs. The problem is that there’s not a ton of upside.
Cantin went undrafted and played as an over-age 21 year old in the OHL last season until signed by the Bruins. This year, the B’s demoted Cantin to their ECHL affiliate in Reading after 19 games in the AHL. However, the Bruins are very deep at defense in their prospect pool with Dougie Hamilton (9th overall, 2011) leading the way. Cantin is still under his ELC, so he’ll be in Bridgeport next year and presumably will help fill in with some physical defensive depth. Given that a few young defenders will be given the chance to make the team out of camp, that depth isn’t a bad thing.
28. Mitchell Theoret, LW, 2011 7th Round Pick
18 years old, Niagara (OHL)
2011-12 stats: 62G, 12-9-21, 7, 39PIM
A teammate of Ryan Strome in the OHL, Theoret was also selected by the Islanders in the 2011 draft. He’s a feisty winger who plays with an edge, and saw regular playing time with the IceDogs as they made a run to the Memorial Cup finals. As his junior team graduates a few forwards who will age out of the league and maybe lose more to the NHL in the next year, Theoret should see some extra playing time. He’s still quite a lot shot but he’s not out of the race yet.
27. Mike Halmo, LW, 1st Year of ELC
21 years old, Owen Sound (OHL)/Bridgeport (AHL)
2011-12 stats (OHL): 66G, 40-45-85, 24, 162 PIM
(AHL): 5G, 1-0-1, 1, 5PIM
Speaking of players aging out of the OHL, the Islanders signed one a few months back in Owen Sound’s Mike Halmo. As you can see by the stats Halmo is a bruiser but can put the puck in the net as well. He’s a potential replacement (read: younger) for the KHL bound Trevor Gillies. He put up a ton of points last year in the OHL but, of course, that comes with the asterisk of being over-age. One last note, you may remember Halmo from such films as; Nail Yakupov Gets Destroyed and Lighting Up a Player Away From the Puck. So yes, he’s got an edgy, highly suspendable side.
26. Tony Romano, RW, RFA
24 years old, Bridgeport (AHL)
2011-12 stats: 60G, 12-22-34, 3, 29PIM
Romano is the third of the three restricted free agent Sound Tiger forwards the Islanders will have to make a decision on and also is the most talented. He’s still an NHL long shot but showed improvement in his second full season in Bridgeport. He got bumped down to the ECHL for about a week and returned with a serious fire, scoring 17 points in a 15 game span in February and March. He’s a small, quick forward (think sort of like Justin DiBenedetto) that can put the puck in the net. He finished fifth on the Sound Tigers in points, and could be a good contributor next season if he continues to find the motivation.
25. Ty Wishart, D, RFA
24 years old, Bridgeport (AHL)
2011-12 stats: 71G, 5-14-19, -2, 32PIM
One of the most disappointing prospects on these rankings is Ty Wishart, whose stock took a huge hit this past season. He’s fallen out of favor with the organization, as he was the fourth defensive call up this past season behind Dylan Reese, Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness. Wishart is a former first round pick from 2006 but since then, two organizations have passed him along and now a third is seeing him fall down the defensive depth chart. After getting a long, 20-game look on the Island in 2010-11, Wishart played only one game in the NHL this year and is looking like he won’t be coming back up any time soon.
24. Robbie Russo, D, 2011 4th Round Pick
Sophomore, Notre Dame
2011-12 stats: 40, 4-11-15, 14
He’s still got a few more years to develop before we’ll have any kind of a verdict, but the 19-year old Russo was solid at Notre Dame in his freshman season. Russo is a small (5-11), speedy defender with offensive upside (have you heard this story before?) and he’s also got the pedigree of playing in the US National Team Developmental Program. He’s still going to need at least another two years before we’ll really get an idea of where he is in his development, so for now he’s a prospect of the wait-and-see variety.
23. Kirill Petrov, RW, 2008 3rd Round Pick
22 years old, Kazan Ak-Bars (KHL)
2011-12 stats: 52G, 16-13-29, -3, 8PIM
Petrov falls way down on this Islanders’ list due to the fact that it will be a long time, if ever, we see him in an Islanders’ uniform. The 22-year old re-signed with his team in KHL for two years, keeping him off of Long Island that much longer and leaving us to wonder if he will ever want to make the jump to the NHL. He’s still a 6-3, 200lb power forward with first-round talent but is not going to be helping the team any time soon.
22. Mikko Koskinen, G, RFA
23 years old, KalPa (Finland)
2011-12 stats: 25G, 13-5-4, 2.34, .915
One of the solid players who may simply not get a shot is Mikko Koskinen, who spent the season playing in Finland after the creases in Bridgeport and Long Island were full. With two young studs in the system ahead of him (Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson), Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov, Koskinen is on the lowest rung as far as Islanders’ goaltenders go. There should be room for him in Bridgeport this season if the Islanders carry three netminders on the Island again (or you take RDP out of the whole equation). He’s a former 31st overall pick from 2009 and has upside but will likely get buried as the current talent pool for goalies stands.
21. Andrey Pedan, D, 2011 3rd Round Pick
18 years old, Guelph (OHL)
2011-12 stats: 63G, 10-30-40, -8, 152PIM
Another big (6-foot-4 kind of big), physical defender in the system is Andrey Pedan who could be a solid two-way, lower pair defender. He’s big but has mobility and has a big shot, too. His issue is getting the physicality under control. His PIM’s jumped by more than 60 minutes since last season and got penalized at the rate of more than one minor penalty per game (the OHL doesn’t include misconducts in its statistics, so those 152 are all minors). The penalties are a huge liability, but he’s a promising player if he can figure out how to play a cleaner physical style.