One of the forgotten New York Islanders draft picks from 2017 is rising up the prospect depth chart, and could be in North America as soon as next year.
Remember Robin Salo? The New York Islanders drafted the Finnish defenseman in the second round of the 2017 NHL draft. But we haven’t heard much from him since.
That’s typically what happens to prospects playing out in Europe. Out of sight out of mind, right? But for
, Robin Salo is third on the Islanders prospect pool. Behind only Oliver Wahlstrom and Bode Wilde.
Down, but Up Again
It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Robin Salo since being drafted by the New York Islanders. He put up an impressive 16 points in 54 games for Sport Vaasa of the Finnish Liiga in his draft year. But in the following year (2017-18), he scored five in 43 games for Sport Vaasa and was even sent down to the lower Finnish league for a bit.
Salo took the opportunity to seek greener pastures at the end of 2017-18. So he signed a two-year deal with Liiga club SaiPa. Since he’s been much better.
He’s playing a ton of minutes with a lot of responsibility for SaiPa, and it’s paying off. In 2018-19 he matched his 16 points from 2016-17. This season, he’s already eclipsed his 16 points by putting up 20 points in 41 games played.
"I have received a lot of responsibility and play a lot. It has also brought a lot of power through it. It feels like the game is moving forward all the time. There are still some things I still need to develop before I can reach my full potential."
Wheeler has Salo third in his prospect pool over some Islanders names like Otto Koivula (fourth and is currently in the NHL…sorta), Kieffer Bellows (seventh), and Samuel Bolduc (tenth).
Wheeler believes in Salo’s talent by stating that he might not be the best skater, but that Salo makes up for it with what can only be defined as good “hockey IQ”.
With this being the final year of his contract with SaiPa, Salo has his sights set on North America. This past summer he told Arthur Staple (subscription required) that with one more good season in Finland he hopes to play in North America in the 2020-21 season.
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If Salo makes his way to North America next season it will continue the influx of Islanders draft picks taking the next step. It also means that one of the Isles current defensive prospects stuck in the AHL, like Sebastian Aho, could be moved at the trade deadline to help acquire what the Isles need today.