With an eye towards the future, what New York Islanders prospect has turned heads during the 2019-20 season? Who shot up the Isles prospect depth charts?
Most of us are spending a ton of mental capital thinking about how the New York Islanders navigate the salary cap in 2020-21 with a possible flat cap and with three RFA’s to sign who will earn substantial increases to their current deals. I’ve got at least three text chains with three very different conclusions, timelines, and creative solutions to the problem.
The best solution to any cap situation is a cheap but productive labor force. In the NHL that translates to prospects making the jump from the lower ranks to the “Chel” on ELC’s. Players like Mathew Barzal who held an $863,333 cap hit and produced 207 points in 234 games.
We know the next wave of players on ELC’s that could hit the NHL include Ilya Sorokin, Kieffer Bellows, and Oliver Wahlstrom. But what about the wave after that? We might have our eyes on 2020-21, but the Isles cap issues will likely go beyond just next season.
Looking at the Islanders prospect pool who made a significant jump in the depth charts?
Collin Adams | University of North Dakota (NCAA)
2016 6th Round Pick, 170th Overall
Collin Adams had a big year for the University of North Dakota. He played top-line minutes for the Fighting Hawks. In 35 games he put up 28 points this season while playing alongside Hobey Baker finalist Jordan Kawaguchi and Shane Pinto (a second-round pick in 2019 by the Ottawa Senators).
Adams, a sixth-round pick by the Islanders in 2016, added 21 points over his production from the 2018-19 season. The 5’9″ winger showed that when put in a good position he can produce. He will return to UND for his senior year, as well as Kawaguchi and Pinto.
Previously, Adams wasn’t a factor in the Islanders depth charts. But with a productive junior year, the Islanders will certainly have bumped him up a few spots.
Robin Salo | Orebro HK (SHL)
2017 2nd Round Pick, 46th Overall
Robin Salo, a second-round pick in 2017 has been playing solid hockey since he joined Finnish outfit SaiPa in 2018. In two seasons with SaiPa where he was given more responsibility, he put up 37 points over 103 games.
In February 2020, Salo moved to Orebro HK in Sweden where he’d put up six points in 12 games before the season was canceled. Five of his six points came in his last four games of the season.
It looked like it took Salo a few games to get accustomed to the higher caliber of the Swedish league before he stepped up and produced more consistently.
With the move to Sweden and a contract that extends until the end of 2020-21, Salo might not be here quite as soon as I had previously thought.
But, there’s no doubt that Salo is raising up the Islanders defensive depth charts.
Felix Bibeau | Chicoutimi Saguenées (QMJHL)
2019 6th Round Pick, 178th Overall
Between the Québec Remparts and Chicoutimi Saguenées Bibeau put up 70 points in 63 games before the QMJHL season was canceled. With the third-place Saguenées, Bibeau had serious aspirations of, at the very least, winning back-to-back QMJHL championships and maybe even back-to-back Memorial Cups like former teammate Noah Dobson.
He just turned 21 at the end of March, which explains why a player who put up back-to-back point-per-game seasons before being drafted was only selected in the sixth round of the draft.
I’m sure the Islanders bring Bibeau into the fold for the 2020-21 season. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a carbon-copy deal to the one they gave Arnaud Durandeau last season.
Just like Collin Adams, Bibeau is a sixth-round pick that may not pan out but is at least taking steps in the right direction.