While the New York Islanders have seen a big turn-around since Doug Weight took over behind the bench, there is also good things to report down on the farm. Yours truly will give an assessment of who the Islanders current top three prospects are and why.
#3 Devon Toews
Has any youngster in the New York Islanders organization gained more ground in climbing the team’s prospect ladder than Devon Toews this year? Toews was a fourth-round pick in 2014 and currently, that selection is looking like an absolute steal.
In his first full season in the AHL, playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the soon to be 23-year old defenseman is second on the team in scoring with four goals and 28 points. The 6’1, 181 lbs blue liner plays a complete game on both ends of the ice and is a tremendous skater. Toews just won the fastest skater competition at last month’s AHL All-Star Game.
This skill set puts Toews near the top of the Islanders prospect list and surpasses Ryan Pulock as the number one blue liner down on the farm.
By this time next year, Toews will be with the big club and the British Columbia native will be here to stay. The rise of Toews gives Garth Snow the ability to move Travis Hamonic for a dynamic forward.
New York Islanders
#2 Ilya Sorokin
Is there a more intriguing NHL prospect than Ilya Sorokin? The 21-year old net minder, who was a third-round pick for the Islanders in 2014, is currently dominating the KHL. Playing for CSKA Moscow, Sorokin is 23-7-6, with 1.61 goals against average, .928 save percentage so far this season.
This season is no fluke for Sorokin who won the KHL top goalie award last year. Scouts have praised Sorokin on his quickness, athleticism, and his great physical skills. However, Sorokin is also beyond his years mentally. After his stellar 2015-16 season, Sorokin’s goal for this season was to repeat it and make sure everyone knew that consistency was part of his game as well.
Sorokin has a chance to become one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL. He is signed to play in the KHL for one more season (2017-18). Sorokin was on Long Island last summer for the team’s prospect camp. He was terrific of course. But now the organization just needs to get the talented goalie over to North America for good.
#1 Mathew Barzal
While Islander country was disappointed that Mathew Barzal just winded up having a cup of coffee with the Islanders after making the team out of training camp, the future looks very bright for the British Columbia kid.
Barzal has dazzled once again this year in the WHL for the Seattle Thunderbirds with seven goals and 41 points in 26 games. He also was a strong contributor for Team Canada at the 2017 World Junior Championships.
The 19-year old center has an excellent chance to be part of the big club come opening night next season. Barzal was part of the very deep 2015 draft. A knee injury during that season caused him to slip to the middle of the first-round.
The Islanders pounced when that happened and shipped Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for the 16th and 33rd overall picks in the 2015 draft. The Isles traded up from the 33rd spot to 28 and selected Anthony Beauvillier.
Barzal should be a sure-fire top-six forward. He has a really good chance to be an impact player in the NHL.
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What makes the Islanders top three prospects so special is the ceiling for all of them is to be NHL All-Star caliber players.