Funny how all this prospecting turned out. Ten weeks ago, I thought that by the end of the 2009 NHL Draft the Islanders would have more selections than they’d need. Figured after John Tavares they’d continue to re-stock the prospect pool with a few highly-ranked forwards and defensemen, maybe take a goalie with one of the third round picks.
But noooooooo. The Islanders traded some of the picks they acquired when moving down in 2008 to move up in 2009 to take defenseman Calvin de Haan. Then they took goaltenders with the first picks in the second and third rounds. Surprising, because they had holes everywhere and taking goalies back-to-back seemed unnecessary.
So where does that leave the Islanders? With a scoring phenom in John Tavares. With a good-not-great prospect pool. Still with gaps on the depth chart at forward and defense. And with all eyes on de Haan to see if Ryan Jankowski and his staff got that one right.
Make no mistake: the Islanders have improved their developmental roster since 2006. But have they come far enough? Still seems like they have a strong base of many solid young players, as opposed to an impressive list bursting with top-tier prospects.
Here are our lists of the top prospects in Bridgeport and in junior, college and Europe. These always seem to result in some heckling from the crowds. Last season, we got some guff about excluding Max Gratchev, Shea Guthrie and Simon Lacroix on our lists and the Islanders ended up not even signing them. Time will tell if the Islanders made a mistake.
TOP 10 JUNIOR, COLLEGE OR EUROPEAN PROSPECTS
1. Calvin de Haan
(Frankly, considering the price, the Islanders’ praise and his selection at 12, he has to be).
2. Aaron Ness
3. Corey Trivino
4. Travis Hamonic
5. Kirill Petrov
(Not attending Prospect Camp because his KHL team has workouts at the same time; may be on this list for years).
6. David Ullstrom
(Terrific SEL playoff, committed to NYI camp).
7. Rhett Rakhshani
8. Matt Martin
(Good 3rd/4th line intangibles prospect still unsigned, likely headed back for one more year in Sarnia. This week gives him another chance to make an impression).
9. Kevin Poulin
10. Anders Nilsson
Worth a Mention: Blake Kessel, Jason Gregoire, Matt Donovan, Casey Cizikas
TOP PROSPECTS IN BRIDGEPORT
Note: If you are cross-checking this list with the official team website, note that almost half the players currently listed as “In The System” are either not playing in Bridgeport this season or are no longer NYI property. Among those departed or playing elsewhere: Jeremy Colliton, Kurtis McLean, Jamie Fraser (best of luck in Minny, Jamie), Peter Mannino, Mike Iggulden and the traded Ben Walter. The site’s roster also does not include the acquired LIer Tony Romano or the “depth” signings like Mark Flood.
1. Mikko Koskinen
(Considering where they took him, the Islanders’ praise and that he’s almost 21, he has to be).
2. Jesse Joensuu
3. Trevor Smith
4. Mark Katic
5. Justin DiBenedetto
(The ultimate wild card begins his NHL pursuit in earnest this season).
6. Robin Figren
(One way or the other, this year you’re going to learn what Figren is…or is not).
7. Andrew MacDonald
8. Joel Rechlicz
(Yes, the Wrecker probably has a better chance of playing in the NHL again sooner than many of those above him on this list, but we like him as the gritty-gutty underdog).
Worth a Mention: Dustin Kohn, Tomas Marcinko, Tony Romano, Mark Flood, Matt Moulson
A Note to Readers about Prospect Camp Coverage: For blow-by-blow accounts of every goal scored in every drill or scrimmage at Iceworks over the next 6 days, this will not be the place to be. I’ve been to many of these and I won’t go ga-ga every time a kid throws a hit or gets a few points in a game. Unfortunately, Cinderella stories rarely emerge long-term from these camps. Of course, I hope one does.
Instead, my focus will be on de Haan, Koskinen, Ness, Trivino, Cizikas, Josh Bailey and many of the top prospects and their development. And I imagine I’ll write a few dozen more stories about that Tavares kid. I hope you’ll stay with Point Blank through it all. Don’t forget to check out all the blogs in the Country. First group hits the ice tomorrow at 11:00 am.