Mar 4, 2012; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalieAnders Nilsson
(45) during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Just yesterday, Islanders prospects hit the freshly made Nassau Coliseum ice to participate in the teams’ annual Rookie Camp. The young guys are set to go through various drills and maybe even a scrimmage at the end of practice.
As many an Islanders fan know, the team boasts a highly-acclaimed prospect pool that contains some of the best young talent available. While most of the aforementioned talent will appear on this list, there are others who deserve some consideration .
Eyes will continue keeping analytical eye on the burgeoning talent and advise you to do the same.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the most intriguing prospects to watch in this year’s Rookie Camp:
1. Ryan Strome
Surprised? Strome is without question the Islanders’ most skilled prospect in their farm system. His dynamic skating ability, along with superior vision of the ice and overall keen hockey sense, allows all Islander personnel and fans to consider Strome the key to major success. Moreover, his is unique skill set, coupled with a dynamic wrist shot informed by a deliberateness seldom found in young players affords him the most ‘looks’ by coaches, future teammates, and administration alike.
Strome really has no reason not to be on the team. The only apparent issue restricting him from rising to the NHL has been the excessive amounts of forwards the Islanders have had these past two seasons. Now with a roster spot open on the third line, look for Strome to shine in prospect camp and viably contend for the open position.
2. Brock Nelson
Brock Nelson, also known as “The Other First Round Pick,” has quietly become one of the best prospects in the Islanders’ system. Without a doubt, Nelson is the best two-way forward the Islanders have in their talent pool. He is the future Frans Nielsen, but with upgraded scoring ability. Nelson’s strong skating ability affords him the required space on the ice to brandish his skilled offensive tendencies, best punctuated by leading Bridgeport in scoring last season. Nelson also has great defensive ability, similar to that of former Islander Michael Peca.
Nelson made his NHL debut last season in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. While no points were put up, Nelson looked comfortable out on the ice, and certainly wasn’t out of place, playing strong defense against a mighty offensive force that is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Nelson, like Ryan Strome, will be a top competitor for the Islanders final remaining offensive position. This dog fight is sure to be the story of camp, and it will be exciting to see how it plays out.
Anders Nilsson is one of two highly-touted goaltending prospects currently inhabiting the prospect pool. He is perhaps the better of the two, and it’s possible he could see NHL time this year.
Camp is set to be big for Nilsson, as many critiques and fans want Nilsson on the team rather than current back-up Kevin Poulin.
Nilsson has shown true potential, albeit in spurts, including a 1-0 shutout win against the New Jersey Devils on March 4th, 2012. After suffering a full recovery from debilitating health issue, and given his capability and drive to start consistently at the NHL level, look for Anders Nilsson to be the best goaltender in camp and possibly back-up Evgeni Nabokov come October 4th.
4. Anders Lee
Anders Lee is yet another highly acclaimed offensive prospect. He put up strong numbers while playing at Notre Dame that are a direct result of a terrific wrist shot, shown in his first NHL goal. Lee does have one rather large fault in his game, and that is his skating ability. At times, Lee looked like he was behind in the play, and appears to have some difficulty jumping up on the rush, as was the case a couple of times in the game vs. Winnipeg.
Lee still is a great prospect who could see some NHL time this upcoming season. While he is a long shot to make the team out of camp, perhaps a strong September could leave a lasting impression that the Islanders front office will remember mid season.
5. Matt Donovan
Matt Donovan is in all likelihood the newest defenseman for the New York Islanders. He is a strong offensive-defenseman, leading the AHL in scoring by defenseman with 48 points. He is a very similar player to Mark Streit, but can actually check opponents. He likes to jump up in the play, and can likewise score goals. Expect Donovan to be a strong contributor on the Power Play, and, with time, its official back-up quarterback alongside Travis Hamonic.
Donovan’s one weakness, as it was/is for Mark Streit, is his defensive play. While it has improved as of late, Donovan is a bit too eager at times on the offensive rush, resulting in odd-man rushes going back the other way.
If you had to count on one guy to make the team out of training camp, Matt Donovan is it. He may be the Islanders most NHL-ready prospect, and look from a strong training camp from him this week.
At one point, Calvin de Haan was the best defensive prospect in the Islanders’ system. His game had progressed, and considered by many as a strong two-way defenseman who was in reach of obtaining a regular spot with the club. Unfortunately, Calvin de Haan suffered his first shoulder injury in 2009 and has been his major setback; hopes of him making the team are begin dwindling.
However, a strong camp could rekindle hopes that de Haan is an NHL-ready player. While he most likely won’t be starting the season in New York, it’s important to know where he stands as a player. de Haan must prove that he’s both stronger physically and mentally, with a skill set that matches his desire to play. If he could compete for the open roster spot along with Matt Donovan, then he could probably take a roster spot as early as the 2014-15 season.
Griffin Reinhart is yet another big name defensive prospect the Islanders can call their own. Towering at 6’4″, Reinhart likes to use his size to his advantage, but that doesn’t take away from his strong offensive ability. Reinhart is an offensive-defenseman, who can both shoot and pass the puck well.
Reinhart really doesn’t have any major flaws that would limit his game, but don’t expect him to make the team out of camp this season. Being just 19 years old, his inexperience at the professional level certainly is a set back. However, expect Reinhart to have a solid training camp, and should raise a few eyebrows over this next week, and setting the tone for what is to be a great career.
8. Ryan Pulock
There’s just something about this kid that makes him fun to watch. Whether it’s his vision of the ice or his booming slap shot reaching speeds of 101.1 miles per hour, he’s someone to keep your eyes on when he’s out on a shift.
Pulock is the Islanders’ shiny new prospect. Drafted 15th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Pulock is one of the top picks in the Islanders’ star-studded system. He has a supreme skill set for a defenseman, and likes to jump up in the offensive rush, but knows when to stay put and when not to do so.
Pulock is sure to be one of the Islanders’ top defenseman in the coming seasons. While he won’t be playing in Long Island this season, look for him to have a strong camp that gives a glimpse of into a promising future.
Crus Rydberg had an impressive Mini Camp back in July. He played a solid two-way game, and put his skill set on display with an impressive shootout goal in the Skill Competition of Mini Camp.
If there’s one current Islander that bears a strong resemblance to Curs Rydberg, it’s Frans Nielsen. Both have a solid two-way game. They can occasionally put up goals, put playmaking is their primary attribute. Nielsen and Crus Rydberg both have a strong defensive presence as a forward, similar to former Islanders’ Captain Michael Peca.
Crus Rydberg, selected in the fifth round, has the potential to be a steal in the draft. While he probably won’t ever be an NHL star, he certainly will be a solid player, and look to see that in this year’s rookie camp.
10. Alan Quine
Alan Quine was at first glance, seemingly a fill-the-hole draftee. Being drafted in the sixth round, expectations for Quine weren’t very high. However, during the Islanders’ Mini Camp in July, Quine shined. He did well in the Orange vs. Blue Scrimmage, highlighted by a beautiful shootout goal in the Skills Competition.
Quine boasts a strong offensive game. He has a nice pair of hands, and a powerful snap shot; he can dangle through opposing players, and let go a cannon in the slot. Quine also possesses strong hand-eye coordination, as well (see all three of his attributes on display here).
While many Islanders fans don’t know the name Alan Quine, you might want to learn it. He could be a strong scorer one day in the NHL, and look for him to be a surprise in Training Camp.