Islanders prospect update: New blood in the system and loan

Robin Salo is interviewed after being selected 46th overall by the New York Islanders (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Robin Salo is interviewed after being selected 46th overall by the New York Islanders (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Here’s your latest update on New York Islanders prospects who are currently playing. Including some of the new kids drafted in the 2020 NHL Draft.

There may not be any NHL hockey to watch, but the 2020-21 European hockey season (and QMJHL season) has begun and a number of New York Islanders prospects are taking part.

I have the ability to sit on my computer early in the morning and into the afternoon to watch some of the Isles prospects, or at least keep up with the others. So here’s what I’ve observed watching (or following) Islanders prospects this week.

New Blood in the System

The Isles added new blood to the Islanders system at the 2020 NHL draft class. The earliest draft pick was in the third round, so none of these players are sure-fire locks for the NHL. All of them are projects.

Here’s who they picked, in what round, and where they’ll be playing in 2020-21:

  • 3rd round: Alexander Ljungkrantz (Brynas | SHL)
  • 4th round: Alex Jefferies (Merrimack | NCAA)
  • 5th round: William Dufour (Voltigeur | QMJHL)
  • 6th round: Matias Rajaniemi (Pelicans | Liiga)
  • 7th round: Henrik Tikkanen (IPK | Mestis)

If you want to know more about these picks check out this piece I wrote after the second day of the draft: Getting to know the Isles 2020 draft class.

Loan Moves

More loan moves may come for Islanders prospects in the next week. But for now, they’ve only sent one player overseas. Otto Koivula was sent on loan to HIFK (Liiga).

Koivula hasn’t played in Finland since 2017-18 where he put up 27 points in 53 games playing for Ilves. We’ll see what he can do after two years in the Islanders organization where he’s scored 68 points in 105 AHL games.

Finland (Liiga/Mestis)

Ruslan Iskhakov (TPS)
Season stats: 4GP, 2G, 3A, 5pts

He’s acclimating himself well to life in Finland after two years playing in the US for UConn. This week, Iskhakov came up clutch for TPS scoring the OT winner on Friday. He added two helpers on Saturday as TPS picked up back-to-back wins.

He’s exactly what TPS thought they were getting when they signed him. He’s using space well and linking up with his teammates on the third line to create offense for TPS who was so starved for scoring last year.

Otto Koivula (HIFK)

He hasn’t suited up just yet. I’m not sure if he was already in Finland at the time of the loan, but if not he’ll have to quarantine for a bit before he can join the team.

Matias Rajaniemi (Pelicans)
Season stats: 3GP

We shouldn’t expect too much here. The 6’4″ blueliner just turned 18 on September 11. He’s playing just over 12 minutes a night for Lathi. Again, this is a project for the Isles.

Henrik Tikkanen (IPK)
Season stats: 3GP, 2.69GAA, 0.875SV%

The 20-year-old monster goalie (he stands 6’8″) holds a 2-0-1 record over his three games and has his team at the top of the Mestis league.

Sweden (SHL/Allsvenskan)

Simon Holmstrom (Vita Hasten)
Season stats: 1GP

He missed the first few games of the seasons with the flu, but he was in the fold for Vita Hasten’s 5-3 loss to Karlskoga getting two shots on goal.

He played well in the preseason for the White Horse and I’m sure his contributions ramp up with more practice and game time. He’s a crafty winger that should do well at this level. His vision and passing should allow him to take full advantage of the larger ice surface.

Oliver Wahlstrom (AIK)
Season stats: 5GP, 2G, 2A, 4pts

He’s scoring a bunch with four points in five games so far with AIK. The concern from Islanders fans is less about his offensive abilities but more about his abilities off the puck. I’ve reached out to AIK and expect to get some answers on that once they get back from their weekend road trip.

Robin Salo (Orebro)
Season stats: 6GP, 1G, 3A, 4pts

Salo has done well in Sweden. He’s putting up a bunch of points and playing big minutes for Orebro who are fourth in the SHL. Through six games this season Salo already has four points, two points shy of the six points he netted in 12 games last season.

His average of 23:18 for Orebro is fourth for defensemen in the entire SHL. He’s an important piece in Orebro’s game.

The 21-year-old second-round pick from 2017 will likely be in North America soon to join a growing core of defensemen in the Islanders system.

Alexander Ljungkrantz (Brynas J20)
Season stats: 8GP, 3G, 2A, 5pts

He put up two helpers in Brynas’ 7-5 win over Djugarden on Sunday. He played at this level last season, putting up 27 points in 42 games, we’ll see if he can progress and many even crack the senior squad for some time in the SHL.

Canada (QMJHL)

William Dufour (Voltigeur)
Season stats: 2GP, 3A, 3pts

I haven’t been able to watch a game of his since the Isles drafted him last week. But he’s clearly picked up where he left off with three-point in two games. He put up 33 points in 28 games last season with the Voltigeurs.

Russia (KHL)

Anatoli Golyshev (Avtomobilist)
Season stats: 12GP, 6G, 4A, 10pts

He’s on pace to score 49 points over a full KHL season. He’s hit 40 or more points twice before in a KHL season, so this isn’t necessarily new territory for Golyshev, who has said he’ll be NHL bound next season.

He’s playing with a bit more bite this year. He picked up ten-minute misconduct against Metallurg the other night put him at 24 PIM on the season. His previous PIM high was 59PIM in 49 games back in 2016-17.