Although the Islanders will not make the playoffs this season, all has not been lost. With injuries to John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Eric Boulton the Islanders have been given a glimpse of their promising future. This future includes the likes of; Brock Nelson, Calvin de Haan, Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Matt Donovan.
#29 Brock Nelson
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Brock is the only one of the rookies who has not spent anytime in Bridgeport this season as he earned his spot early in training camp and never played himself off of the team. Early in the season he was not given the ice time many people believe he deserved but that changes rather quickly and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. Nelson has played in 59 of the Islanders’ 69 games this season and has tallied 12 goals and 12 assists for a total of 24 points on the season, a very respectable number for a hard-nosed first year player. Clearly not the most overly skilled player on the team, he is not afraid to go to the dirty areas and more often than not comes out with the puck. In addition, he also has the hands and shot to bury the puck when the opportunity arises.
Future Prediction: Nelson will make an excellent 2nd or 3rd line center depending on additions and subtractions to the New York offense over the next two seasons.
One word description : Gritty
#44 Calvin de Haan
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de Haan is a highly skilled offensive defenseman, who has the defensive abilities that many similarly gifted defensemen lack. Calvin started the year with Bridgeport before getting the call to join the Islanders. He has played in 43 of the team’s 69 games and has racked up 3 goals and 10 assists totaling 13 points. Already showing to be one of the better, young, puck moving defenseman in the league, his vision allows the Islanders to easily exit their defensive zone. de Haan makes that initial breakout pass better than most players in the league for many years before him.
Future Prediction: Paired with an efficient shut-down defenseman de Haan is a legitimate top-pair option.
One word description : Smooth
#46 Matt Donovan
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It is no lie that while Matt Donovan has had his successes at the NHL level this season he has also struggled at times, but don’t let that deter you from believing that he can and will be a quality NHL defenseman. Donovan has a very high hockey IQ and has 1 goal and 9 assists good for 10 points in 40 games this season. One major thing Matt can improve on in the off-season is his strength, it is probably the most common thing young defensemen around the league need to work on, and once he gets a bit stronger the rest of his game will fall into place.
Future Prediction: Donovan should be the offensive defenseman on the team’s second pairing.
One word description : Smart
#18 Ryan Strome
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Ryan is by far the most anticipated and hyped prospect in the Islanders’ system and many people expect him to be the Malkin to Tavares’ Crosby. Strome dominated the American Hockey League scoring at a dynamic rate posting 13 goals and 36 assists good for 49 points in only 37 games. In his 24 games with the big club this year he has posted 4 goals and 6 assists totaling 10 points. It seems as though he has put an immense amount of pressure on himself to produce at the NHL level and he has seen some of his opportunities pass him by, maybe from gripping his stick a little too tight or thinking a second too long. You can see the frustration on his face from time to time but you can also see the incredible talent he has when he doesn’t and just lets the game come to him.
Future Prediction: Give Ryan some time to adapt to the NHL speed and intensity and he will be a dynamic top-six forward. Ryan will either be a 1st line winger or 2nd line center depending on how the roster shapes up.
One word description : Playmaker
#27 Anders Lee
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Lee has been the most impressive of the ‘Young Guns’ and has earned a look on the team’s “first line” with the injury to Michael Grabner. Although in a small 9 game sample size, Lee is averaging over a point per game. 6 goals and 4 assists good for 10 points and he is the most physically ready for the NHL level. Anders is a tenacious power forward who has a nose for finding the net when presented with an open opportunity. Lee and Strome had developed incredible chemistry in Bridgeport and I think that will contribute to their roles with the big club.
Future Prediction: Lee will be a 2nd or 3rd line winger. If Strome takes over the 2nd line center role Lee may find himself alongside his own linemate. Lee will play the power forward role while Strome will play the playmaker role and whoever plays with them (looking at you Josh Bailey) will be the beneficiary of their chemistry.
One word description : IslANDERS (on a serious note – tenacious)
With this core of youth and the many A and B level defensive prospects that the Islanders have, while the present has certainly not worked out to anyone’s liking, the Islanders’ future is promising and NO ONE can deny that.