In our continuing look at the draft, here are some defenders (and one goalie) that could be available for the Islanders to take with the 15th pick tomorrow afternoon.
Josh Morrissey — 6-0, 183 // Prince Albert (WHL)
Morissey has been playing for Prince Albert, a team that hasn’t had a winning season in the WHL since 2004. He’s helped them start to turn things around, though. This year they did finally have a winning record with the help of Morrissey’s power play and puck moving skills. He’s your prototypical offensive defenseman with gifted passing and vision. From Jr Hockey Recruit:
Mirco Mueller — 6-4, 176 // Everett (WHL)
Mueller hails from Switzerland and was a part of their silver medal team at the World Championships earlier this spring. He’s one of many reasons why that team succeeded and the Swiss have been on the upswing on the international stage. This year was his first playing North American hockey and he’s been a late-comer on most of the draft rankings. Here’s Corey Pronman:
Rasmus Ristolainen — 6-3, 220 // TPS (Finland)
For the past two years, Ristolainen has played in Finland’s top league and is arguably the #2 defender in this year’s draft, behind Seth Jones. He could very likely be a Top-10 pick and out of the Islanders’ reach. For such a big player, he’s got a solid two-way game, writes Finnish writer Matias Strozyk from Elite Prospects:
Nikita Zadorov — 6-5, 230 // London (OHL)
Another huge-body defender, Zadorov uses his size a lot more than Ristolainen and is still a good two-way player, putting him right within the Islanders range at 15. The difference is that Zadorov isn’t quite as good a skater and that physiciality has a tendency to take him out of the play at times. Hockey’s Future writes that he’s worked to correct that in London this year: “…as the year progressed, Zadorov learned to reign in his physicality and became a much more effective stay-at-home blueliner. He has a solid shot, but doesn’t project as a number-one blueliner. However, he should fit very nicely on a top pairing as the defensively responsible, crease-clearer for whom so many teams are looking.”
Robert Hagg — 6-2, 200 // MoDo (Sweden)
Another European-born defender on our countdown is Robert Hagg, a Swedish blueliner who had his first shot at Sweden’s top league this past year. He had only 1 point in 21 games after being called up from the Swedish U-20 league, a league he lit up for nearly a point per game. Part of that is due to his lack of playing time as a rookie — he didn’t even skate during the team’s playoff run. Here’s Pronman:
Madison Bowey — 6-1, 200 // Kelowna (WHL)
Bowey grew up as a two-sport athlete in Winnipeg, playing hockey in the winter and pitching during the summer. He is an excellent skater, is offensively gifted and played for Canada’s U-18 team this past year. Who better to give a scouting report than the home town blog:
Bowey has very good puck-moving skills, he makes a great first pass and has the ability to rush the puck or join the play. He scored 12 goals this past season and has a cannon for a shot from the point. Madison Bowey has the tools to become a very good offensive defenceman but this part of his game is still developing.
Ryan Pulock — 6-0, 210 // Brandon (WHL)
Pulock has almost an extra year on everyone else, as he was born in 1994. He’s also scored a ton in his three years with Brandon; 42 points his first year, then 60 and 45. Here’s Defending Big D on his huge slapshot:
Darnell Nurse — 6-4, 185 // Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Our final defender on the countdown is another with a series scoring touch; Darnell Nurse. In his second OHL season Nurse notched 41 points in 68 games and has drawn comparisons to Shea Weber:
The answer to a trivia question somewhere is that Nurse is NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb’s nephew.
Zachary Fucale — 6-1, 180 // Halifax (QMJHL)
There’s one goaltender who is projected to go in the first round, and it’s Zach Fucale who was the goaltender on Jon Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon’s Halfiax Moosehead team. As with most goalies, Fucale is projected high on some boards and low on others. Bob McKenzie has him at #19, while Pronman has him in the Top-95 (although to be fair Pronman admittedly does not value goalies high in genreal). Here’s Pronman’s thoughts:
And here’s Defending Big D with what the hype is all about:
What is so impressive about Zach Fucale is his work ethic and also his mental coolness. During his time in the juniors he’s known to be a workhorse and to work as hard as possible all the time. When he does give up a bad goal he doesn’t let it get to him and he gets back into the game straight away. While lots of young, and older, goaltenders might be downhearted by a slipup or a mistake Fucale does just get back into the game. It might be something that I might be overemphasising but it shows a mature mental attitude which is promising in a young prospect.